Rabbi Moshe King
During my college years, I embarked on a sincere exploration of the spiritual realm. My mind was open to a multitude of approaches, unburdened by the limitations of the religion I had known until then. At that juncture in my life, Judaism was more of an identity than a profound spiritual connection. Many of its traditions appeared archaic, but I found myself profoundly drawn to its philosophy, even though it seemed to lack spiritual depth.
As the years passed, I achieved a degree of material success and established a comfortable career. However, my inner yearnings not only persisted but intensified, demanding my attention. I had been reluctant to fully embrace Judaism because I was unwilling to stifle my intellectual curiosity and spiritual imagination to conform to what I assumed were stagnant rituals.
Then, I encountered the teachings of Reb Zalman and the Renewal movement. How had I missed these transformative teachings in the past? I can only assume I wasn’t ready. Through this guidance, I discovered a Judaism that was vibrant and spiritually enriching, transcending mere cultural and structural aspects. It unveiled a world of ever-expanding spiritual depths—a way of life that offered stimulation, meaning, and fulfillment.
It became glaringly evident that my current life, though materially successful, was incongruent with the yearnings of my soul. I made the life-altering decision to step away from my career and prioritize my spiritual journey. Shortly thereafter, I immersed myself in learning with Aleph, and the possibility of serving as a Rabbi began to take shape.
These past few years within the AOP have proven to be some of the most challenging of my life. I’ve been compelled to confront facets of myself that were uncomfortable, expand my emotional and intellectual horizons, and confront uncomfortable truths.
Through these trials I was supported by my loving family, Rebecca and Nora, who sacrificed with me and reminded me why all of this mattered. I also appreciate the support and guidance from my home community: Congregation Beth Sholom, in Anchorage, AK. They offered me room to grow and provided a safety net for the times when I stumbled. I am profoundly grateful to them all.
Looking into the future: Our present era offers opportunities to shed materialism, champion egalitarianism, rectify social injustices, and make strides in crucial civil issues. It’s a time of progress, but it’s also a time when we require guidance and a connection to our heritage. We need a secure anchor in tradition, tested by generations, and renewed to meet both old and new challenges.
I pray that the knowledge I’ve acquired in AOP, the relationships I’ve cultivated, and the challenges I’ve surmounted will equip me to confront current challenges with strength, joy, lovingkindness, and intention. In the spirit of Reb Zalman, I remain open to whatever path God presents to me and aspire to continue the legacy of integral halakha, deep ecumenism, and equitable justice for all who share our world.