Known as both a provocative religious leader and a respected spiritual iconoclast, Irwin Kula has inspired thousands of people across the country using Jewish wisdom in ways that speak to modern life. A cutting-edge scholar, teacher, and rabbi, he brings the insights of an ancient tradition to the challenges of the present to help people live more fully.
Named by both Fast Company magazine and "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" (PBS) as one of the new leaders shaping the American spiritual landscape, and ranked No. 8 in Newsweek's "Top 50 Rabbis in America," Kula provides a broad vision of religious pluralism. "The freedom and openness of America invites us to bring our traditions to the marketplace of ideas. The challenge is in translating these wisdoms into American idioms that are accessible to inspire and improve our personal and public lives."
A regular on NBC-TV's "The Today Show," and co-host of the popular weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula, airing on KXL in Portland, OR — one of the top 25 markets nationwide, Kula offers a perspective often missing in the media. A renowned thinker, he is the author of the new book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life (Hyperion, September 2006), which won the "Books for a Better Life" Award, Best "Spiritual" Book for 2006, and was featured in a national public TV pledge special, "The Hidden Wisdom of Our Yearnings."
In 2004, Kula wrote and was featured in Time for a New God, an acclaimed documentary shown at film festivals nationwide. Filmed as a moving monologue along the beaches, wharves, and roller coasters of Coney Island, he offers religion as a "giant tool box," asking: "In an era when we have what we need, and are the 'masters of our universe,' what kind of God do we seek, what kind of God do we need?" In 2003, Kula hosted a first-ever 13-part national public TV series produced by JTN Productions, "Simple Wisdom With Irwin Kula," using Jewish wisdom to explore the central issues of life — family, love, money, and work.
Kula is the President of CLAL—The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center. A regular guest on the Hallmark Channel's "New Morning" show, and "The Lars Larson Show" on Westwood One radio, he was featured on "Frontline" (PBS) on the anniversary of 9/11, and was a repeat guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Frequently quoted in the press, he is in great demand by leaders from such diverse fields as business, technology, relationships, and religion.
A nationally recognized educator and lecturer, Kula serves as a consultant to both corporate and family foundations, as well as to religious and philanthropic institutions and non-profit agencies on compassionate leadership development and institutional change. He is the co-editor of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: CLAL's Guide to Everyday & Holiday Rituals and Blessings (Jewish Lights, 2001), and co-founder of the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Chicago. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia Univ., his B.H.L. from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA) in NY, and his M.A. in Rabbinics and Rabbinic Ordination from JTSA. He has served as rabbi of congregations in St. Louis, MO; Queens, NY; and Jerusalem, Israel.
CLAL—The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
Founded in 1974, CLAL—The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership is a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center. A leader in religious pluralism, CLAL links Jewish wisdom with innovative scholarship to deepen civic and spiritual participation in American life. CLAL's interdisciplinary programs explore religious and national identity. The CLAL faculty, with its reputation for excellence, representing rabbis and scholars from a wide range of streams and disciplines, provides cutting-edge teaching, lectures, courses, seminars, and consulting across the country. CLAL's internship and professional education connects modern experience with ancient texts and traditions. CLAL's publications and materials offer thought-provoking ideas, tools, and techniques to enhance individual, community, and institutional life. In all of CLAL's work, it strives to build vibrant Jewish life that is spiritually engaged in the intellectual and ethical challenges of the wider world. For more information, go to www.clal.org.
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Segment 1: Irwin Kula on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in a segment about cheating in
Segment 2: Irwin Kula on "Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero," on the
anniversary of 9/11.