Shmuly Yanklowitz

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Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Shmuly Yanklowitz (also known as Rav Shmuly), born 1981, is a Modern Orthodox rabbi, educator, author, motivational speaker, the President & Dean of Valley Beit Midrash[1] the founder and president of Uri L'Tzedek, the Orthodox Jewish social justice organization,[2] and the founder and CEO of The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute.[3] In March 2012 and in March 2013,[4] Newsweek called Yanklowitz one of the most influential rabbis in America.[5]

Educational and professional background[edit]

Yanklowitz was ordained as a rabbi at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and he received a second rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, and a third rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo of Jerusalem. As an undergraduate, he studied communication at the University of Texas at Austin.[6] He earned a master's degree at Harvard University in Leadership and Psychology, and a second master's degree in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. Yanklowitz earned his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from the Department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University[7] and has taught at UCLA Law School and Barnard College.

Yanklowitz worked in corporate and non-profit consulting and was the Director of Panim JAM in Washington D.C. training others in leadership and advocacy. While in rabbinical school, Yanklowitz served at four different Orthodox congregations in Montreal, Canada; Norwich, CT; Newton, MA; and Boca Raton, FL and was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Following his rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yanklowitz served as Senior Jewish Educator and Director of Jewish Life at UCLA Hillel from 2010 to 2012.[8] While in Los Angeles, he also taught a Senior Honors Talmud class at Shalhevet High School in 2011[9] From August 2012 to May 2013, Yanklowitz served as the Senior Rabbi of Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas. In July 2013,Yanklowitz became Executive Director (later President & Dean) of Valley Beit Midrash, a "collaborative organization that brings new, exciting, and relevant Jewish programming to the Greater Phoenix Jewish community in a diverse, welcoming, engaging, and pluralistic setting."[10][11] Yanklowitz, through the Valley Beit Midrash, leads the Start Me Up Fellowship, an incubator that trains and funds Jewish social entrepreneurs to launch innovative social ventures.[12] Yanklowitz also founded the Jewish Leadership Corps.[13]


Yanklowitz founded Uri L'Tzedek, the Orthodox social justice movement, in the spring of 2007 and serves as the President. Uri L'Tzedek was featured in the Slingshot Guide for five consecutive years (2009–2013) honoring the top 50 most innovative Jewish non-profits recognized for innovation, impact, strong leadership, and organizational effectiveness.[14] He is also the Founder and CEO of the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute, a spiritual activist center, where he promotes animal welfare and Jewish veganism. Yanklowitz has been a global activist volunteering, teaching, and staffing missions in countries such as Haiti, Thailand, Israel, Ghana, India, France, El Salvador, Guatemala, Britain, Senegal, Germany, Switzerland, Argentina, South Africa, and Ukraine.

In 2010, Yanklowitz flew to Haiti after the earthquake to sing with refugees[15] and has since been an advocate for greater transparency in disaster relief work.[16] In 2012,[17] Yanklowitz co-founded “Jews for Human Rights in Syria[18]” and he led petitions, wrote national op-eds,[19] and was interviewed on the humanitarian crisis.[20] Yanklowitz has called for higher standards for homeless populations in urban centers,[21] advocated for religious institutions to play a greater role in social justice work,[22] and questioned lavish life-cycle event ceremonies.[23]

Yanklowitz is vegan and promotes veganism because of his personal belief that there is cruelty involved in slaughtering animals for human consumption. He has been a public opponent of the kapporos ritual [24] the fur and leather industries,[25] using animals for cosmetic testing,[26] and the shackling and hoisting slaughter methodology.[27] Yanklowitz has called for stunning animals after kosher slaughter to prevent more pain at the end of life.[28]

The New York Times has covered Yanklowitz's approach to ethical kashrut: “The consumer of goods produced immorally is morally culpable.”[29]

Rabbi Yanklowitz has been a strong advocate for cadaveric organ donation as well as for living kidney donation.[30] In the summer of 2015, Yanklowitz underwent organ transplant surgery to donate his kidney, saving the life of an orphan with kidney disease who had been on dialysis for years.[31][32][33][34][35][36]

In November 2015, Rabbi Yanklowitz was appointed a Phoenix City Commissioner to the Human Relations Commission by Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton.[37] In that same month, Rabbi Yanklowitz led several rallies in support of Syrian refugees[38][39][40] after Arizona governor Doug Ducey released a statement ordering the halt of refugees into the state."[41]


In 2008, the Jewish Week recognized Yanklowitz as one of "36 under 36" (one of 36 of the most influential Jewish leaders under the age of 36) and in 2009 he was recognized as a top 5 finalist Jewish Community Hero.[42] Yanklowitz has served as a rabbinic representative at the World Economic Forum[43] in Davos, Switzerland.[44] Yanklowitz has become a regular at the annual White House Chanukah party.[45] In March 2012 and in March 2013,[4] Newsweek called Yanklowitz one of the most influential rabbis in America.[5]

Yanklowitz served as a judge for The Genesis Prize to re-allocate $1 million granted to Michael Bloomberg and collaborated with Elie Wiesel, Natan Sharansky, and Michael Douglas at Bloomberg Philanthropies to honor the 10 selected young social entrepreneurs.[46][47]

Emmy Award nominated actress Mayim Bialik wrote about Yanklowitz: "This guy is like me times 100: he has a hand in everything, he is a social justice crusader, an observant vegan, a young hip well-dressed down-to-earth Modern Orthodox rabbi and teacher with connections in so many areas; he is a really brilliant and inspiring guy."[48]


A film crew followed Yanklowitz for over a year to produce a PBS documentary named The Calling about the training of religious leadership, which aired nationally in December 2010.[49] The Calling is a four-hour documentary series that follows seven Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Jews as they train to become professional clergy.[50] Yanklowitz is followed through his activism, rabbinic studies, travel, and personal faith journeys.[51] Yanklowitz has been involved with interfaith work, written on issues of pluralism[52] and been an advocate for religious epistemic pluralism[53] arguing that religious communities must evolve from tolerance to pluralism.[54]

In 2011, PBS aired a segment on ethical kashrut interviewing Yanklowitz.[55]

In 2015, PBS aired another segment on conversion to Judaism where Yanklowitz stressed the need for increased inclusivity.[56]


Yanklowitz uses his columns the "Social Justice Rav" in the Jewish Journal[57] and "Street Torah" in the Jewish Week[58] to educate others on different issues of social justice. He also blogs at the Times of Israel,[59] Huffington Post,[60] Jerusalem Post,[61] and the Jewish Press.[62] Yanklowitz has also written for the Wall Street Journal,[63] the New York Times [64] Washington Post,[19] The Forward,[65] the JTA,[66] Sh'ma,[67] Haaretz,[68] Newsweek[69] The Guardian,[70] Sojourners,[71] The Atlantic[72] and many others. Many of his articles relate to the prison system in America,[73][74] animal welfare,[75] religion in the public sphere,[76] health issues,[77] and issues in the Jewish community.[78] Yanklowitz’s essays have been translated into Hebrew and German.[79]

Yanklowitz has argued that the primary purpose of the Torah is social justice. Jewish law is the vehicle for cultivating the ethical personality with the aim of social progress that improves society and the world. He demonstrates that each law, tradition, ritual and theology has the ultimate aim of fostering a more just and equitable society. He has also been a strong advocate for "Open Orthodoxy" [80] and for Epistemic Pluralism.[53] He has been a consistent voice for labor rights,[81] immigrant rights,[82] and prison reform.[83] In April 2012, Yanklowitz emerged as an ally of those of LGBT orientation,[82] and in December 2013, he argued five points for his support of gay marriage.[84] In November 2014, Yanklowitz called for more inclusiveness for those pursuing conversion to Judaism.[85] In 2015, Yanklowitz called for slave reparations,[86][87] spoken out against Islamophobia[88] and has argued for a more open market for organ donation.[89][90]

Brandeis University history professor Jonathan Sarna wrote, "Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz's name has become synonymous with the call for ethical renewal and social justice within the American Jewish community. A modern Orthodox rabbi, he fuses ancient teachings with progressive sensibilities."[91]

Published Books[edit]

Yanklowitz has written nine books.

  • Jewish Ethics & Social Justice. Derusha Publishing LLC, 2012.
  • Epistemic Development in Talmud Study. ProQuest LLC, 2013.
  • The Soul of Jewish Social Justice. URIM Publishing LLC, 2014.
  • Spiritual Courage: Vignettes on Jewish Leadership for the 21st Century. Indie Publishing LLC, 2014.
  • Bringing Heaven Down To Earth: Jewish Ethics for an Evolving and Complex World. Indie Publishing LLC, 2014.
  • Soul Searching: A Jewish Workbook for Spiritual Exploration and Growth. Indie Publishing LLC, 2014.
  • SPARKS! Bringing Light Back to the World. Indie Publishing LLC, 2014.
  • Existing Eternally, Existing Tomorrow: Essays on Jewish Ethics & Social Justice. Indie Publishing LLC, 2015.
  • The Jewish Vegan. Indie Publishing LLC, 2015. (Editor)

Yanklowitz was a Jewish Book Award Finalist in 2014."[92]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lon Bab(Past President, Phoenix Suns). "Leadership". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Leadership". The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute - מכון שמים וארץ. 
  4. ^ a b "America’s Top 50 Rabbis for 2013 (PHOTOS)". The Daily Beast. 
  5. ^ a b "America’s Top 50 Rabbis for 2012". The Daily Beast. 
  6. ^ Lee Hockstader (September 29, 2002). "Specter of War Stirs Dissent on Campus". Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ Shawn Yanklowitz, "Furthering argument skills and epistemic development in Talmudic learning for seniors in high school" (Ed.D. dissertation, Department of Human Development, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2013), supervised by Deanna Kuhn, 123 pp.
  8. ^ "Hillel at UCLA". Hillel at UCLA. 
  9. ^ "The Boiling Point". The Boiling Point. 
  10. ^ "Valley Beit Midrash hires one of ‘America’s top 50 rabbis’". 
  11. ^ Lon Bab(Past President, Phoenix Suns). "About Us". 
  12. ^ "Start Me Up!". 
  13. ^ "Jewish Leadership Corps to debut in fall". 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Singing in Haitian Refugee Camp, Shmuly Yanklowitz. YouTube. April 19, 2010. 
  16. ^ "The Jewish Week - Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. 
  17. ^ "Log into Facebook - Facebook". Facebook. 
  18. ^ Interfaith Free Syria Vigil (in front of the United Nations in NYC)!. YouTube. December 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "On Yom Kippur, praying mightily for Syria". OnFaith. 
  20. ^ Jonathan Craig. "In celebration of Yom Kippur, a Rabbi shares his thoughts on Syria". 
  21. ^ Miriam Wasser. "Huge Homeless Overflow Shelter Closing, and County Has No Plan for Displaced Men". Phoenix New Times. 
  22. ^ "How Religious Institutions Act as Forces for Progress". Sojourners. Retrieved 2015-11-06. 
  23. ^ Yanklowitz, Shmuly (November 6, 2015). "Enough With the Million-Dollar Birthday Parties". Newsweek. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "The Religious Case Against Wearing Fur & Leather! - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  26. ^ "Torturing Animals! For Eye Liner?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  27. ^ "A call for transparency in the kashrut industry". The Jerusalem Post - 
  28. ^ "Mandate to Stun Animals After Kosher Slaughter". The Huffington Post. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Organ Donation: Holiest of Mitzvot - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  31. ^ "Arizona rabbi donates his 'spare' kidney to save young Israeli - The Times of Israel". The Times of Israel. 
  32. ^ "You WON't Believe What This Rabbi Just... - The Jewish Standard - Facebook". 
  33. ^ "Why is kidney donation such a tough topic for Jews?". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 
  34. ^ Trisha Hendricks, 12 News (June 24, 2015). "Exclusive: Valley Rabbi donates kidney to save a stranger". KPNX. 
  35. ^ "Rabbi Donates Kidney To Complete Stranger and Saves His Life". A+ ( June 22, 2015. 
  36. ^, retrieved 2015-10-22  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ "Kate Gallego - Timeline Photos | Facebook". Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  38. ^ "Protests continue over Ducey's anti-refugee stance". azcentral. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  39. ^ "Phoenix rally shows solidarity for Syrian refugees". Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  40. ^ "Faith leaders want Gov. Ducey to change stance on Syrian refugees". Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  41. ^ "Statement From Governor Doug Ducey". Office of the Arizona Governor. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  42. ^ Jewish Community Hero: Shmuly Yanklowitz. YouTube. October 27, 2009. 
  43. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". Shmuly Yanklowitz - World Economic Forum. 
  44. ^ "Our Man in Davos". 
  45. ^ "The rabbi and his ‘calling’ - Religion". Jewish Journal. 
  46. ^ "Daily Kickoff: Saban calls out Zakaria on Israel - Jeb lost Sheldon? - From Yeshiva to West Point - Jewish Insider". Jewish Journal. 
  47. ^ "Judges". 
  48. ^ "Being a Vegan". Kveller. 
  49. ^ "The Calling". 
  50. ^ "Meet the Characters - What's Your Calling". 
  51. ^ "Video: Shmuly Yanklowitz – The Calling Classroom Module - Watch Independent Lens Online - KLRN Video". PBS Video. 
  52. ^ "The Essence of Judaism is Obligation: A Foundation for Pluralism". The Times of Israel. 
  53. ^ a b "Prophetic pluralism: Reaching higher truth together". The Times of Israel. 
  54. ^ "The Lethargy of Religious Tolerance". OnFaith. 
  55. ^ "Jewish Social Justice". Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. 
  56. ^ "Converting to Judaism". Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. 
  57. ^ "Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  58. ^ "The Jewish Week - Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. 
  59. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz - The Blogs - The Times of Israel". The Times of Israel. 
  60. ^ "Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz". 
  61. ^ "Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz". The Jerusalem Post - 
  62. ^ "The Jewish Press  »  » Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz". The Jewish Press. 
  63. ^ Shmuly Yanklowitz (May 29, 2014). "Shmuly Yanklowitz: Why This Rabbi Is Swearing Off Kosher Meat - WSJ". WSJ. 
  64. ^
  65. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". The Forward. 
  66. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz - Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 
  67. ^ "Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz - Sh'ma Journal: A Journal of Jewish Ideas". 
  68. ^ http://
  69. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". Newsweek. Retrieved 2015-11-06. 
  70. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  71. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". Sojourners. Retrieved 2015-11-06. 
  72. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  73. ^ "Why I Am Fasting Today! - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  74. ^ "Jewish Organizations Tackle Prison Reform". Moment Magazine. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  75. ^ "Caged and Traumatized: A Closer Look at the Egg Industry - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  76. ^ "The Bible and the Los Angeles Riots: Role of Religion in the Public Sphere? - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  77. ^ "The Jewish Week - Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week. 
  78. ^
  79. ^ Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland K.d.ö.R. "G7-Gipfel: Zeit zu handeln - Jüdische Allgemeine". 
  80. ^ "Proud to be Open Orthodox!". The Commentator. 
  81. ^ "Is our Labor System Broken? A Jewish Call for Minimum Wage Increases! - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  82. ^ a b "I’m Coming Out of the Closet! - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  83. ^ "Prison Reform: A Torah Perspective on the American Crisis". 
  84. ^ "5 Reasons Being an Orthodox Rabbi Compelled Me to Support Gay Marriage". The Huffington Post. 
  85. ^
  86. ^ "Is it Time We Pay Slave Reparations? - Social Justice Rav". Jewish Journal. 
  87. ^ "A Rabbi's Plea: We Need Slavery Reparations In Order to Move Forward". YES! Magazine. 
  88. ^ "US female Muslim leader claims discrimination on United flight". The Times of Israel. 
  89. ^ "We badly need more donated kidneys. Let’s start paying for them | Shmuly Yanklowitz". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  90. ^ "Give a Kidney, Get a Check". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  91. ^ "Urim Publications: THE SOUL OF JEWISH SOCIAL JUSTICE". 
  92. ^ "2014 National Jewish Book Award Winners and Finalists". 

External links[edit]