We founded Or Zarua in 1989 to create a new model for the synagogue, especially the urban synagogue.
Contrary to the goals of most congregations, we want Or Zarua to be a small congregation - a place in the heart of the big city where a person can get to know other people and can get to be known, as well. We created Or Zarua to forge a religious environment where study and prayer would be thoughtful challenges, rather than passive experiences or perfunctory events.
Traditional texts provide profoundly rich resources which must be explored anew and our synagogue should be a place where serious searching, accompanied by serious commitment, takes place. The Torah should come alive, revelation should be an experience and not just a concept, and God should make a difference in all of our lives.
We welcome your presence in our community,
Dr. Harlan J. Wechsler is founding Rabbi of Congregation Or Zarua, a Conservative, participatory, traditional and egalitarian synagogue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Rabbi Wechsler is an alumnus of Harvard College and received his ordination and Ph.D. degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Author of What's So Bad About Guilt?, published by Simon and Schuster, Rabbi Wechsler's many articles on theology and ethics have appeared in numerous journals. Rabbi Wechsler taught Jewish ethics and the history of Jewish thought for over thirty years in the Department of Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
In seeking new methods of healing the seriously ill - in spirit as well as in body - Rabbi Wechsler has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Hospital Chaplaincy, an interfaith center which provides chaplains for the major hospitals of New York City and which teaches seminary students of all faiths to administer effective pastoral care. He is a Life Trustee of the Chaplaincy.
Rabbi Wechsler currently hosts the weekly national radio program "Rabbi Wechsler Teaches" on Sirius/XM Satellite radio, Sundays at 4:00 am, 8:00 am, and 8:00 pm.
Harvard College, BA 1965
Hebrew University, Graduate work, Department of Jewish Studies. Studied bible with Nehama Leibowitz and Talmud with Yonah Frankel.
Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbinical ordination, 1971
Jewish Theological Seminary of America, PhD, 1982
Concentrating in the history of Jewish philosophy and ethics.
Dissertation: "Broken Tablets in the Ark: Ideas of Aging in Talmudic Literature."
During his graduate work Rabbi Wechsler was "Fellow in Moral Theology" at
the Jewish Theological Seminary. His study was jointly also in the
department of religion at Princeton University where he was a student of the
late great theologian of Christian medical ethics, Prof. Paul Ramsey.
Weekly Talmud Class with Rabbi Bolton - The Yom Kippur Experience in the Talmud: Wednesdays at 7:30 - 9:00 pm
Weekly Siddur Class with Rabbi Bolton: Thursdays from 8:40 - 9:40 am, in the Library following minyan