Friday, 13 September 2013

Staten Island's Congregation Om Shalom blends Judaism with yoga, meditation, Buddhism and Hinduism

From  SILive

By Maura Grunlund/Staten Island Advance 

"STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Sam Steinberg, newly ordained as Rabbi Samtosha and guided by an image of G-d as Stevie Nicks in purple robes, is developing a new synagogue in St. George that will blend Judaism with yoga, meditation, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Rabbi Samtosha, whose religious name means “contentment” in Sanskrit, is forming Congregation Om Shalom, a name that incorporates a yoga chanting sound; the logo is the Star of David with the symbol of Om in the middle. The first service of what the rabbi describes as “Jewish fusion” is planned for Rosh Hashanah, with the observance beginning the night before, on Sept. 4; the rabbi, who was ordained on June 27, is negotiating to rent space at Brighton Heights Reformed Church.

The synagogue where Joanie Sobsey of Dongan Hills — the rabbi’s significant other, and a yoga instructor and nurse practitioner — will serve as spiritual director, is welcoming to people of all faiths and lifestyles. The rabbi, who is divorced with two adult children, and Ms. Sobsey met on and have been together for more than eight years. She works for Teen Rap at Staten Island University Hospital.

“My girlfriend once asked me what is my image of G-d,” the rabbi said. “My image is Stevie Nicks onstage in purple robes. Maybe three times a year when I’m praying I get so connected, tears come to my eyes — and that’s when I’m praying to Stevie.”

As part of his course study at the Rabbinical Seminary International in Manhattan, Rabbi Samtosha read the holy books of all the major religions; he feels that incorporating aspects of all faiths helps to reduce or eliminate animosity between various religions and factions within religions.

“I want anyone looking for spirituality to come to us,” said the rabbi, who is a teacher with the Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) program and the son of Holocaust survivors Alex Steinberg and the former Helen Klaczko Steinberg.

“We are open to everyone, Jews, non-Jews, atheists, agnostics, interfaith couples, LGBT,” added the rabbi, whose brother is Lev Raphael, the author of books about the children of Holocaust survivors and his experiences as a gay Jew... "   Read it all 

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