Breslov scholar from Israel to speak at Congregation Beth Sholom


Rabbi Lazer Brody, of Israel’s Yeshiva Chut Shel Chesed and Breslev Israel, will speak at Congregation Beth Sholom, in Providence, on March 7 about the power of faith and gratitude – and how to strengthen both. 

Brody, who lives in Israel, is the English-language spokesman for Rabbi Shalom Arush, a prominent Moroccan-born Israeli Breslov leader. He has translated a number of Arush’s Hebrew works into English, including “Garden of Emuna” and “Garden of Gratitude,” in addition to writing his own books on Judaism.

Born in Washington, D.C., Brody is a graduate of the University of Maryland. In 1970, he moved to Israel, joining the Israel Defense Forces and serving for 19 years in regular and reserve-army combat service. Ordained a rabbi in 1992, his post-graduate study included personal and family counseling, and he eventually spent two years as the rabbi and spiritual rehabilitation director of a major Israeli prison.

Brody’s visit to Providence is part of a March tour of the United States, where he will lecture on the need for every Jew to realize his or her own life-changing redemption, enabled by the power of faith and gratitude, as a prelude to the universal redemption of the messianic era.

Under the leadership of Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Congregation Beth Sholom has been pursuing old and new ways to promote meaningful religious and communal spaces, including through the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the 19th-century founder of Breslov Hasidism.

As part of this effort, Dolinger offered a weekly Saturday afternoon class on Rebbe Nachman’s teachings about prayer and meditation.

“On a personal level, my practice has become heavily influenced by Rebbe Nachman,” Dolinger said. “His core teachings focus on the holistic spirituality of the body, emotional states and happiness, the vitality (chiyut) of life, and sensing the divine presence in our experiences.”

Breslov’s emphasis on intentional prayer, conversation with God, and meditation are practices that have proven powerful for Dolinger.

“These are in line with the shared spiritual experience of so many [including the Hasidim], and are extremely important in our current world, in my opinion,” says Dolinger. “Hence our efforts at Congregation Beth Sholom to make intentional prayer a reality on Shabbat through our MeSHuGA – Making Shabbat Great Again – campaign and also the start of Thrive, which emphasizes direct spiritual practice.”

“This is different and exciting for our community,” Dolinger said of Brody’s upcoming visit. “We’re bringing Breslov to Providence!”

Rabbi Brody will speak at Congregation Beth Sholom, 275 Camp St., Providence, on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is free and open to all. For more information, contact the synagogue at 401-621-9393.

SHAI AFSAI lives in Providence. His article “Uman: Pilgrimage and Prayer,” about Jewish pilgrimage to the burial place of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in Ukraine, appears in the summer 2017 issue of the Reform Jewish Quarterly.