Rabbi Blane is a Universalist Jew, and while JSLI encourages the Universalist philosophy, students are multi-denominational and affiliate with the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements.
Jewish Universalism, as interpreted by Rabbi Blane, believes the following:
Jewish Universalism therefore goes beyond religious tolerance, which is the condition of peaceful existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations.
Biblical references as well as rabbinic literature support this Universalist view. For example:
The JSLI has its own Code of Ethics and Statement of Faith, which it strongly abides by. Prospective students of JSLI must ensure they agree with and will abide by both before committing to any one of our programs.
Cantor's Assembly - an international and highly regarded association of cantors affiliated with Conservative Judaism. However, he resigned after being offered either resignation or expulsion when he began officiating at interfaith weddings.
Between 2006 and 2009, Rabbi Blane served as rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah (a Conservative community in New Milford, NJ). He has also led services in Lubavitch, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform communities since his ordination. However, he always feels most comfortable among the most progressive Jewish movements, and it was while serving at Congregation Beth Tikvah that he realized he had a progressive mission, too:
"I was unhappy; I was sad. Yes, I was doing well - I was serving a lovely community and I was making a good salary. But I was not growing: my vision was much larger than I could realize in the Conservative or any particular movement. And so I left the traditional pulpit to journey on my own."
That journey has been extensive and fruitful. It has led to Sim Shalom - an interactive, online and free Jewish synagogue, which - like JSLI - meets the needs of unaffiliated Jews and interfaith couples and espouses the Universalist philosophy. Find out more about Sim Shalom.
Rabbi Blane's overarching commitment is to nurture, heal and bring joy to the community. His mantra?
"No is not in G-d's vocabulary."
Rabbi Blane is a member of the International Federation of Rabbis - a professional organization whose viewpoint is closely aligned to his own: a commitment to Jewish tradition and yet a realization of the need to facilitate and adapt to a changing Judaism in the 21st century.
Music has always played a huge part in Rabbi Blane's life - both inside and outside of synagogue. He majored in Voice and obtained a B.A. in Music Education from Jersey City University. Following college, he performed as a singer/actor off and on Broadway, most notably in the show "Strider" in 1978-1979. He was a film extra in "The Chosen" (don't blink) and wrote an Off-Off Broadway musical, which he produced in 1981. In 1986 he co-founded Blane & DeRosa Productions, an audiobook and children's audio production company. To date, the company has produced thousands of audio recordings for major publishers.
Rabbi Blane plays guitar, piano and ukelele, and he loves to sing Jazz Standards.
For more information on Rabbi Blane, visit Rabbi.Net.