Rami M. Shapiro

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Rami M. Shapiro
Born (1951-04-26) April 26, 1951 (age 67)
Springfield, Massachusetts
Alma mater University of Massachusetts
University of Tel Aviv
Smith College
McMaster University

Rami M. Shapiro (26 April 1951), commonly called “Rabbi Rami”, is an award-winning author,[1] teacher, and speaker[2] on the subjects of liberal Judaism and contemporary spirituality.[3] He served for ten years as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Middle Tennessee State University.

Early life and education[edit]

Shapiro was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and raised in a modern Orthodox Jewish household. Introduced to the study of world religion in high school he began a serious study of and practice in Zen Buddhism at age sixteen.

Shapiro entered the University of Massachusetts in 1969 majoring in philosophy. There he met Teresina Havens, then a retired professor of world religion from Smith College, who took him on as a private student studying both the Bhagavad Gita and Goddess-based spirituality. His work with Dr. Havens culminated in a private conference exploring the archetypal Divine Feminine in Hinduism and Judaism.

As part of a year abroad program, Rami attended the University of Tel Aviv where he focused on Jewish philosophy, especially the work of Martin Buber. While in Israel he studied Chabad Hasidism, and lived for a short time at Kfar Chabad, a Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic community. Returning from Israel, he enrolled full-time at Smith College (one of only eight men allowed to do so at the time) where he majored in Buddhist Studies with Professor Taitetsu Unno. Rami managed the zendo at Smith College and sat sesshin with Joshu Sasaki Roshi of Mount Baldy Zen Center. His degree in philosophy was conferred by the University of Massachusetts in 1973.

Upon graduation Shapiro married Deborah Flanigan and the two moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where he earned his M.A. in Religious Studies at McMaster University with a concentration in contemporary Jewish philosophy, especially the work of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan.

Rami entered the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1976, and spent his first year of study in Jerusalem where he studied privately with Rabbi Kaplan who was then 99 years of age. After his year in Jerusalem, Rami continued his studies under the tutelage of Drs. Ellis Rivkin, Eugene Mihaly, and Alvin Reines seeking to blend his love of Judaism with his passion for Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Advaita Vendanta (non dual Hinduism). While at HUC-JIR Rami worked with Rabbi Sherwin Wine and the Society for Humanistic Judaism, and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1979, where he served as the full–time rabbi at Wright–Patterson AFB while completing his rabbinic studies in 1981.[4]

Career and work[edit]

Rami moved to Miami, Florida upon graduation and created Temple Beth Or, a synagogue and think tank where he experimented with new forms of Jewish liturgy, practice, combining his experiences with Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.[5] He continued his Zen practice with the aid of Gesshin Roshi’s International Zen Institute of Miami. In 1985 Rami completed a Ph.D. in Contemporary Jewish Studies from Union Graduate School using his work with the temple as the basis for his dissertation. Throughout his twenty years with Temple Beth Or, Rami studied with Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, the founder of Jewish Renewal, a neo-hasidic movement within Judaism. In 2000 he was given the title of Rebbe (spiritual master) by Reb Zalman.

In 1984 Rabbi Rami was invited to become a founding member of the Snowmass Group, an annual gathering of contemplatives from various religions, held at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado under the auspices of Father Thomas Keating. It was through the mentoring of Father Thomas that Rami met Dr. Ed Bastian, the founder of the Spiritual Paths Institute and became part of the institute's faculty. Among the faculty of the institute was Swami Atmarupananda who became Rami's primary Hindu teacher. After a decade of study, Rami received initiation in the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism under Swami Swahananda, Swami Atmarupananda's teacher. Rami lectures on the parallels between Judaism and Hinduism at various Vedanta centers in India and the United States.

In 2012 Rabbi Rami teamed up with Reverend Tim Miner and the Order of Universal Interfaith to co-found the annual Big I Conference on Inclusive Theology, Spirituality, and Consciousness.

Shapiro served for ten years as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Middle Tennessee State University.[6]

In 2016, after leaving the university, Rabbi Rami teamed up with Rev. Claire Goodman and Frank Levy to create the One River Foundation. [7][8] One River promotes the study of Perennial Wisdom, the mystic heart found at the core of all religions. The foundation sponsors three projects: The One River Wisdom School, a retreat-based program for the study of sacred texts eastern and western, The Order of the Holy Rascal, an ordination program for individuals interested in becoming ordained clergy devoted to subverting the darker side of Big Religion with humor, and Cup of Wisdom, a book club for the study of The World Wisdom Bible, an anthology of Perennial Wisdom texts and teachings from many of the world's religions.

In addition to writing books and teaching, Rabbi Rami writes the Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler, a spiritual Q&A column for Spirituality and Health Magazine[9] and hosts the magazines podcast, Essential Conversations with Rabbi Rami [10]


[citation needed]

  • Spirituality & Practice Award for Best Spiritual Nonfiction (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)
  • Best Buddhist Writing (essay) (2009)
  • Tennessee Intellectual Freedom Award (2006)
  • Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi Legacy Award (2002)
  • Best Jewish Writing (essay) (2001, 2002)
  • Templeton Foundation Prize in Expanding Humanity’s Vision of God (2000)
  • Best Nonfiction Essay, Florida Newspaper Association (1993, 1994)
  • Moment Magazine Community Service Award (1989)
  • Bettan Memorial Prize for Creativity in the Liturgical Arts (1981)


  • Open Hands, a Jewish guide to dying, death & bereavement, Medic Publishing (1990)
  • Open Hearts, helping friends through mourning, Medic Publishing (1991)
  • The Wisdom of the Jewish Sages, Bell Tower/Random House (1995)[11]
  • Minyan, Bell Tower/Random House (1997)[12][13][14]
  • The Way of Solomon, HarperSanFrancisco (2000)
  • The Wisdom of Solomon, Bell Tower/Random House (2001)
  • Hasidic Tales, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2003)
  • The Prophets, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2004)
  • Open Secrets, Monkfish (2004)
  • Breaking Bread Together, Paraclete Press (2005)
  • The Divine Feminine, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2005)
  • Ethics of the Jewish Sages, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2006)
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness, Skylight Paths (2006)
  • Recovery, 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice, Skylight Paths (2009)
  • The Angelic Way, Bluebridge (2009)
  • Ecclesiastes, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2010)
  • Tanya, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2010)
  • Love of Eternal Wisdom, Wisdom House Books (2011)
  • Proverbs, Annotated and Explained, Skylight Paths (2011)
  • Rabbi Rami Guide to God, Spirituality & Health (2011)
  • Rabbi Rami Guide to Forgiveness, Spirituality & Health (2011)
  • Rabbi Rami Guide to Parenting, Spirituality & Health (2011)
  • Rabbi Rami Guide to Psalm 23, Spirituality & Health (2011)
  • The Sacred Art of Writing, Skylight Paths (2012)[15]
  • Mount & Mountain, Volume 1, Smyth & Helwys (2012), with Rev. Dr. Mike Smith[16][17]
  • Amazing Chesed, Jewish Lights Publishing (2012)
  • Mount & Mountain, Volume 2, Smyth & Helwys (2013)
  • Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent (2013)
  • Mount & Mountain, Volume 3, Smyth & Helwys (2014)
  • Let us Break Bread Together, with Rev. Dr. Mike Smith, Paraclete Press.[18]
  • The Golden Rule & the World’s Religions, Skylight Paths (2015)
  • Accidental Grace:Poetry, Prayers and Psalms. 2015[19]
  • The World Wisdom Bible, Tuner Publishing (2017)
  • Holy Rascals, Sounds True Publishing (2017)

In addition to these books, Rami has published widely in a variety of magazines, contributed chapters to over three dozen anthologies, and writes a regular spiritual advice column for Spirituality and Health magazine.


  1. ^ "A Timely Poetic Discovery". My Jewish Learning, By Dave Miller
  2. ^ "Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Aaron Shapiro explore writing, the self, the universe with Huntsville Literary Association". Kay Campbell, AL.COM.
  3. ^ Zalman Schachter-Shalomi; Joel Segel (2013). Jewish with Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice. Jewish Lights Publishing. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-1-58023-691-1. 
  4. ^ "Every religion has its shadow side: Rabbi Rami Shapiro". Poulomi Banerjee, Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Dec 06, 2015
  5. ^ "Book Review: Jesus through Jewish Eyes". Jews for Jesus, by Matt Sieger
  6. ^ "Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Aaron Shapiro explore writing, the self, the universe with Huntsville Literary Association (updated)". AL.COM, Kay Campbell on May 24, 2013
  7. ^ oneriverfoundation.org
  8. ^ "A Rabbi Seeking Wisdom Across Religious Lines". Tablet, Wayne Robins
  9. ^ spirituality health.com
  10. ^ spirituality health.com
  11. ^ Barbara J. McClure (1 January 2010). Moving Beyond Individualism in Pastoral Care and Counseling: Reflections on Theory, Theology, and Practice. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 235–. ISBN 978-1-63087-725-5. 
  12. ^ "Book Review: Minyan Ten Principles for Living a Life of Integrity" By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
  13. ^ "Minyan: Ten Principles for Living a Life of Integrity". Publishers Weekly.
  14. ^ Dinah Berland (26 November 2008). Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-307-48605-9. 
  15. ^ " Rami and Aaron Shapiro: Dynamic and Disagreeing Duo". Publishers Weekly, By Cindy Crosby |May 23, 2012
  16. ^ "Navigating interfaith marriage". Baptist Standard, February 7, 2014 By Ken Camp
  17. ^ "Jesus, Baptists and Jews — Oy Vey!". Huffington Post, 05/21/2013. Bert Montgomery
  18. ^ "Let Us Break Bread Together". Publishers Weekly
  19. ^ "Accidental Grace: Poetry, Prayers and Psalms". Reviews for Continuing Education and Reference. Association of Professional Chaplains. March 2016

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