Rabbi Rami Avraham Efal
Israel-born and descendent of Polish and Hungarian Holocaust survivors, I grew up in secular Israel and have lived mostly in the USA since 2004. Spiritual seeking led me to enter a life of study of Zen Buddhism in 2005, undergoing four years of monastic training at Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of New York City, including koan and sutras study. I took the Buddhist vows in 2010, and received Zen Buddhist lay ordination (Jukai.) I am a certified trauma-informed mindfulness teacher through the Engaged Mindfulness Institute, a Way-of-Council and Non-violent Communication facilitator, and was mentored with world renowned Jewish and Buddhist peace-builder Dr. Paula Green z”l in cross-cultural and conflict transformation at School of International Training in Vermont. In addition to rabbinic training at Aleph, I have been studying hazzanut with Hazzan Jack Kessler, and Neo-Hasidism with author and Rabbi Prof. Arthur Green, Paula’s younger brother. I am grateful to be receiving his private smicha later in 2024.
As the former executive director of Zen Peacemakers International I have followed Zen Buddhist teacher Bernie Glassman in his peacebuilding and teachings in the US, Europe, and Israel-Palestine. I have organized and co-led the multi-faith, multi-day Bearing Witness retreats in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the Native American Bearing Witness and reservation service programs in South Dakota, USA.
I studied in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and hold a BFA from School of Visual arts, am a published and presented visual artist, the author of the Ignatz award nominated graphic novel ‘The Lantern and the Wave’ about war and forgiveness, and was discharged from the IDF as a staff-sergeant after serving as a criminal investigator of soldiers including human right violations. At The Dialogue Project I organized dialogues with New Yorker Jews and Palestinians, and have translated testimonials of IDF soldiers who served in the Palestinian Occupied territories for Breaking the Silence. I have volunteered extensively in hunger, homelessness and elderly projects, and served as a chaplain in regional trauma 1 hospital in New York.
Today, I offer spiritual care & direction, teach neo-hasidic non-duality & mysticism, Zen & Buddhist meditation, secular universal presence-based life cycle rituals, and contemplative creativity. I self-deploy on chaplaincy, humanitarian & bearing witness missions globally, most recently with Ukrainian refugees. I offer ancestral chaplaincy to families on pilgrimage to their family homes in Europe and visiting concentration camps where their loved ones died. I articulate modern expressions of Jewish monastic practice; I practice in Amazonian plant medicine circles and offer kinnot, shamanic grief-tending prayers employing classic hazzanut (cantorial), Ashkenazi hassidic niggunim (melodies) and modern Israeli shira-mekudeshet repertoire. I create Jewish visual artwork for ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) and amulets.
More at www.ramiefal.com