As a child and younger man, Joshua Chasan understood Judaism as a call to mend the larger world. Raised in a home in which Jewish cultural identity was taken very seriously, while Jewish religious thought and practice were viewed as old world illusions, Joshua discovered traditional Judaism after studying 19th century American Christianity for a doctoral dissertation. After working as a typesetter and then director of a social service organization serving older people, he continued his studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he was ordained in 1987.
After serving four years as rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, New Jersey, Joshua and his family settled in Vermont in 1991, from which time he has served as rabbi of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue. He arrived at OZ during a time of transition, when the synagogue's membership was growing to include a large number of "immigrants" to the Green Mountains. Over the past decade, he has endeavored to create a synagogue environment that is respectful of the rich heritage of more than a century of Burlington Jewry, while helping to integrate newer arrivals that have a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.
Known for both his social activism and his conviction that Judaism is a spiritual path very much for our times, Joshua often can be found at Ohavi Zedek's evening minyan (7 pm, Sunday through Thursday), sharing in the communal spiritual practice that he understands to be the heart of Jewish people hood. Having come to religious Judaism as an adult, he delights in introducing others to the everyday spirituality of Judaism.
Joshua and Kathy Comstock Chasan were married in 1982. They are the parents of Zev and Ari, and Joshua's son Cavan lives in Burlington as well. What he loves most about Vermont is the accessibility of the water and the woods, particularly the Intervale in Burlington.
What he loves most about Ohavi Zedek is the synagogue's potential to model a Jewish way of living that is both traditional and unequivocally inclusive of all people. "We need everybody here," he says. "The world truly is smaller, and it's a wonderful time for Judaism, grounded as it is in the historic culture of our people, to embrace a universal vision that really can be fulfilled."
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Rabbi Jan Salzman joined OZ in the summer of 2010, and primarily serves as our Cantor and B'nai Mitzvah Teacher, and adds to our community as a teacher, Rabbi, and Spiritual Director. She received her rabbinic education and ordination, in January 2010, through ALEPH, the rabbinic seminary of Jewish Renewal, and was ordained there also as a Mashpia Ruchanit/Spiritual Director. She has also studied at Hebrew College, Spertus College, and Dartmouth College. With her strong voice and upbeat spirit, she opens and deepens the Jewish experience. She has lived in Vermont for over 30 years, raising two sons with her husband and rebbitzmon, Loredo Sola.
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