Shmuly Yanklowitz

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Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Shmuly Yanklowitz (born 1981) is a rabbi and author. In March 2012 and March 2013,[1] Newsweek[2] and The Daily Beast listed Yanklowitz as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America.[3] The Forward named Yanklowitz one of the 50 most influential Jews of 2016.[4][5]

Educational and professional background[edit]

Yanklowitz was ordained as a rabbi at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, 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. 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 a Doctorate from Columbia University in Epistemology and Moral Development and has taught seminars at UCLA Law School and Barnard College.[6][7]

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. Following his ordination, Yanklowitz served as Senior Jewish Educator and Director of Jewish Life at UCLA Hillel from 2010 to 2012.[8] Yanklowitz has served as a delegate to the World Economic Forum.[9][10] From August 2012 to May 2013, Yanklowitz served as the Senior Rabbi of Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas. In July 2013, he became Executive Director, then later President and Dean, of Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona.[11][12]


Yanklowitz is the founder of multiple nonprofit organizations that engage in activism:

  • He founded Uri L'Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization.[13]
  • He founded the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute, an animal welfare spiritual activist center.[13][14]
  • He founded YATOM: The Jewish Foster & Adoption Network.[15][16]
  • He founded Torat Chayim, a "progressive-minded" Orthodox rabbinic association.[17][18]
  • In 2012, Yanklowitz co-founded “Jews for Human Rights in Syria."[19][20]
  • Yanklowitz founded and leads the Jewish social justice group Arizona Jews for Justice.[21][22][23]

Yanklowitz has advocated for regulated organ market,[24] cadaveric organ donation as well as for living kidney donation. Yanklowitz is an organ donor.[25]

Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton appointed Yanklowitz to be a commissioner on the Phoenix Human Relations Commission.[26][27]

Asylum Seeker and Refugee Relief[edit]

Yanklowitz has advocated for refugees and asylum seekers at the Southern Border of the United States calling the need to assist asylum seekers a "spiritual revolution."[28] Through Uri L'Tzedek[29] and Arizona Jews for Justice[30][31], Yanklowitz and partners have raised awareness on the issue and have led campaigns to collect supplies for asylum seekers released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


A film crew followed Yanklowitz for over a year to produce a PBS documentary named The Calling, a documentary series that follows seven Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Jews as they train to become professional clergy. The program aired in the United States in December 2010.[32]

Jewish Veganism[edit]

Yanklowitz is vegan.[33] Under Yanklowitz's direction, the Shamyaim V'Aretz Institute launched the Synagogue Vegan Challenge in Summer 2017.[34][35][36]

Yanklowitz has written extensively on questions of Jewish veganism and vegetarianism. He has argued that Jewish animal ethics can encompass both speciest frameworks and more egalitarian frameworks.[37]

In 2017, Yanklowitz was one of the rabbis who signed a statement by Jewish Veg encouraging veganism for all Jews.[38]

Written Works[edit]

Yanklowitz's books include the following:

  • The Soul of Activism: A Spirituality for Social Change (Changemaker Books) - 2019
  • Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism: Studies and New Directions (ed.) (State University of New York Press)  - 2019
  • Kashrut & Jewish Food Ethics (ed.)(Academic Studies Press) - 2019
  • The Jewish Spirituality of Service: Giving Back Rather Than Giving In! (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2018
  • Pirkei Avot: A Social Justice Commentary (CCAR Press) - 2018
  • A Torah Giant: The Intellectual Legacy of Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg (ed.) (URIM Publications) - 2018
  • Postmodern Jewish Ethics: Emerging Social Justice Paradigms (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2017
  • Torah of the Street, Torah of the Heart (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2016
  • Existing Eternally, Existing Tomorrow: Essays on Jewish Ethics & Social Justice (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2015
  • The Jewish Vegan (ed.) (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2015
  • SPARKS! Bringing Light Back into the World (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2014
  • Soul Searching: A Jewish Workbook for Spiritual Exploration and Growth (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2014
  • Bringing Heaven Down To Earth: Jewish Ethics for a Complex and Evolving World  (Indie Publishing, LLC) - 2014
  • Spiritual Courage: Vignettes on Jewish Leadership for the Twenty-First Century  (Indie Publishing, LLC)  - 2014
  • The Soul of Jewish Social Justice (URIM Publications) - 2014
  • Epistemic Development in Talmud Study - 2013
  • Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century (Derusha Publishing, LLC) - 2012

Yanklowitz’s writing has been described as challenging Jews to seek social justice.[39][40][41][42] Regarding Jewish Ethics & Social Justice, Peter L. Rothholz wrote that “in language that is at once passionate and direct, the author tackles a number of delicate subjects head on and makes practical suggestions for dealing with them.”[43] Regarding Pirkei Avot: A Social Justice Commentary, David Ellenson wrote that Yanklowitz "inspires" and "challenges his readers... to improve the world."[44]

Personal life[edit]

Yanklowitz is married, has four biological children, has fostered children, and lives in Phoenix, AZ.[45] Yanklowitz himself underwent Orthodox conversion to Judaism, as he is the son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother.[46] He is an advocate for greater inclusion of Jewish converts.[47][48][49]


  1. ^ "America's Top 50 Rabbis for 2013 (PHOTOS)". The Daily Beast. March 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "Wolpe heads 'Newsweeks list of 50 top rabbis". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  3. ^ "America's Top 50 Rabbis for 2012". The Daily Beast. April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ "Shmuly Yanklowitz: A Rabbi Leading by Example". The Forward. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  5. ^ "Ivanka Trump tops Forward 50 list of Jews impacting American life". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "New Judaic Studies teachers announced". The Boiling Point. June 17, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  7. ^ "Fiat Lux 2010-11 Seminars" (PDF). January 2018.
  8. ^ "Hillel at UCLA".
  9. ^ "List of Participants - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting" (PDF). April 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "Our Man in Davos". Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Valley Beit Midrash hires one of 'America's top 50 rabbis'".
  12. ^ "Staff & Board Of Directors |". Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Orthodox activist outlines a Judaism of the heart | Culture". September 7, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  14. ^ "For Judaism to survive, it has to get out of the shtetl". South African Jewish Report. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  15. ^ "An un-Orthodox approach". New Jersey Jewish News | NJJN. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  16. ^ "A single foster mother? Welcome to life as a mom-to-be – J". J. May 11, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Maltz, Judy (August 27, 2018). "Rallying Against Trump, These Are Not Your Parents' Orthodox Rabbis". Haaretz. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  18. ^ Maltz, Judy (August 1, 2018). "Dozens of Israeli and U.S. Orthodox Rabbis Come Out in Support of LGBTQ Community". Haaretz. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  19. ^ "Rabbis Urge Pelosi To Allow Vote on Bill That Would Sanction Assad Regime". September 30, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  20. ^ "Obama Administration Officials Get Holocaust Museum To Absolve Obama For Ignoring Syrian Genocide". Daily Wire. September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  21. ^ "Passover guides serve up a side of social justice for the seder table". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  22. ^ "Jewish groups' efforts to help refugees continue". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  23. ^ "A call to welcome refugees". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  24. ^ Yanklowitz, Shmuly (October 27, 2015). "Give a Kidney, Get a Check". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  25. ^ "Arizona rabbi donates his 'spare' kidney to save young Israeli". Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Phoenix rally shows solidarity for Syrian refugees". Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  27. ^ "BC_Detail.jsp". Retrieved October 16, 2017.[dead link]
  28. ^ Abramsky, Sasha (July 1, 2019). "Trump Is Dumping Asylum Seekers on American Streets—but Solidarity Activists Are Fighting Back". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  29. ^ Ch, Doug; ler. "From Here To The Border, Trump Policy Outrages Jews". Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  30. ^ href=''></a>, BY <a (January 23, 2019). "B'nai David-Judea Brings Aid to Arizona Asylum-Seekers". Jewish Journal. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  31. ^ Writer, DEBRA GELBART | Contributing. "Jewish groups' efforts to help refugees continue". Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  32. ^ "The Calling". PBS.
  33. ^ Yanklowitz, Shmuly (May 29, 2014). "Why This Rabbi is Swearing off Kosher Meat". Wall Street Journal.
  34. ^ "The Synagogue Vegan Challenge". Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  35. ^ "Jewish Animal Welfare Group Pushes Synagogues To 'Go Vegan'". The Forward. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  36. ^ "Jewish Animal Welfare Organization Challenges Synagogues To Go Vegan". Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  37. ^ Labendz, Jacob Ari; Yanklowitz, Shmuly, eds. (March 25, 2019). Jewish veganism and vegetarianism : studies and new directions. pp. xviii. ISBN 9781438473611. OCLC 1041228582.
  38. ^ "Rabbinic Statement". Jewish Veg. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  39. ^ "Judaism Beyond Slogans - Commentary Magazine". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  40. ^ "Orthodox activist outlines a Judaism of the heart | Culture". September 7, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  41. ^ "Rabbi's book examines 'Torah of the Heart'". Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  42. ^ "- Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion". Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  43. ^ Rothholz, Peter L. (2012). Rev. of Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century. Jewish Book Council. ISBN 9781935104148. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  44. ^ "Pirkei Avot: A Social Justice Commentary Book Review". RavBlog. January 25, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  45. ^ "Leadership - Valley Beit Midrash".
  46. ^ Shmuly Yanklowitz (November 23, 2014). "Judaism Must Embrace the Convert". The New York Times.
  47. ^ "May 1, 2015 ~ Converting to Judaism | May 1, 2015 | Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly | PBS". Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. May 1, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  48. ^ Arom, Eitan (September 7, 2016). "Orthodox activist outlines a Judaism of the heart — Jewish Journal". Jewish Journal. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  49. ^ Arom, Eitan (July 27, 2016). "The complex, secret path to becoming an Orthodox Jew — Jewish Journal". Jewish Journal. Retrieved July 19, 2017.

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