Is Marc Gafni A Rabbi?

His favorite self-description these days is "spiritual artist."

He writes on

I received Ordination many years ago from a well-regarded Orthodox institution in New York. Contrary to some rumors, that Ordination was never revoked. I retain a letter on my computer in which I wrote the president of the institution stating that our paths had parted in such a significant way that I no longer wished to hold Ordination from them.

I also passed a several-hour oral exam with one of the great Rabbinic minds of Israel today, representing the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and authorizing me to be a rabbi?particularly what is termed a Rav Yishuv. I retain that document in my records as well.

I have been asked whether I had, or have, Ordination from Reb Zalman Schachter. I retain in my records a document that Reb Zalman wrote for me several years ago. The document is not an Ordination, but rather an of my previous Ordination from the Orthodox institution mentioned above. When I returned that Ordination in 2004, Reb Zalman’s letter, which was based on my first Ordination, ceased to be valid. I have never held, nor do I seek, independent Ordination from Reb Zalman.

I am not a student of Reb Zalman’s nor have I ever been. I have in some very important ways benefited from his work, and I have publically and privately thanked him for all this. I appreciate and respect some important contributions that he made to Jewish teaching.

I have tried in many ways, large and small, to be of service to Reb Zalman and have sought a particular kind of relationship with him. I have failed in this respect. I have not been in substantive contact with Reb Zalman since March of 2006, other than a private exchange of two e-mails.

I feel very connected to a close friend and chevruta, Rabbi Gershon Winkler. Reb Gershon, with grace and dignity, gave me the transmission of his lineage’s rabbinic ordination, as a friend. This Ordination may be found here in both English and Hebrew.

I feel connected to the same soul root as Reb Gershon. His primary ordaining teacher was Rav Ben Zion Bruk of Jerusalem, a great Master of Mussar, whom I feel connected to both through Rabbi Hillel Goldberg’s transmission of his Torah and through Reb Gershon. At this time, I am working with Reb Gershon on a major work, which we hope will serve as a kind of Spiritual Code of Jewish Law for those who will seek its counsel.

Regarding academia: Virtually everything I have learned has been in the classic auto didactic manner. However, my B.A. is from Edison College (a completely reputable joke of a school, which gives credit for non-academic work). I studied for one semester at Yeshiva University and one semester at Queens College. Neither worked for me. Back then, I wanted to study only what I wanted to study. So, I followed my heart and dropped out. I only received my degree from Edison later on so my mom would be happy. Later in life, I earned a Master’s degree in Jewish Philosophy from Bar Illan University. And still later, I wrote a doctoral dissertation under the direction of Professor Moshe Idel and Professor Norman Solomon at Oxford University. My doctoral dissertation was approved by Oxford University on April 2, 2008.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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