11 Gazin_Looking4Rabbi

Copyright © 2024  Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

“…I think it's possible for a Jew to be in this job not just because of how far Jews have come in the United States, but because of Buddhists, Hindus and Moslems…Jews turn out to be natural religious pluralists.

~ Rabbi Susan Laemmle, former Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California, interviewed 2000.

We translate Teshuvah as repentance. But it means to respond, to answer, to go beyond…to love.

~ Rabbi Don Singer, Congregation Shir Hadash,
leading a retreat at the Los Angeles, Zen Center, February 13, 1999.

Copyright © 2024. Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

“…How do you choose life out of what is set before you? There’s something to revel in not being someone who fits into other people’s ideas of what’s okay…”

~ Rabbi Donald Goor of Temple Judea, Tarzana,contemplating the expansive view of the San Fernando Valleyfrom his swimming pool over-look, 12/17/2000

ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHELLEY GAZINTo acquire: Limited Edition Prints, Rights of Usage or Licensing.

The GAZIN ARCHIVE introduces
an unpublished poster edition:


Looking for a Rabbi; It's a Collective Howl
Portraits by Shelley Gazin

“…I think that Judaism will have to be, in some sense, reinvented… the Judaism of two, three, four hundredyears ago has in it the flexibility to meet a new world.But only if it assumes new forms…”

~ Rabbi David Wolpe, Senior Rabbi, in hissecret writing office at Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, August 5, 1999.

Copyright © 2024  Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2024. Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

"The word rabbi comes from the Hebrew word ‘rabbi’ (pronounced ra-bee, or ‘rebbi’ in it’s Yiddish form) which means ‘my teacher.’ The title is as good as the quality of study, the quality of scholarship, the quality of the yeshiva or individual that granted it…”

~ Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director, Project Next Step of Simon Wiesenthal Center; Irmas Chair, Jewish Law & Ethics,Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, March 2, 1999

“…Judaism is evolving and developmental, and…is not a ‘one size fits all’ tradition.  I don’t believe there’s one form of Halacha [Jewish law] for every person… I suppose I am a Jewish rabbi, a Spiritual rabbi, a Pluralistic rabbi a Trans-denominational rabbi. I’ll say~ a 21st Century rabbi.


~ Rabbi Mordecai Finley, after Talmud Study and a skeet - shoot outing at Angeles Shooting Ranges; co-founder with wife Meirav of Ohr HaTorahA Traditional Progressive Congregation, Los Angeles; President, Academy for Jewish Religion, California, November 19, 1998

“I’d like to be able to move the mainstream a few inches…I once described my mission, humorously, as making the Jewish world more hospitable to people like me. To make it a place in which Jews of a contemplative disposition can feel safe…”

~ Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, founder of Metivta, amid the bamboo at his West Los Angeles office patio, October 13, 1999.

“We’re in a different Jewish used to be that Jewish identity in America was shaped by a response to anti-Semitism, by a vicarious connection to Israel, by a sense of group identity, community, issues related to assimilation......." 


~ Rabbi Laura Geller, Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills.  In the Harrison Memorial Chapel, January 21, 1999

“He holds the community together...If you ask him: ‘Tell me, why [do] people love you?’ he says, ‘because I love them’.’’

~ Rabbi David Shofet speaking of his father, Hacham Yedidia Shofet [1908-2005], former Iranian Chief Rabbi of Tehran and founding rabbiof  Nessah Israel Congregation in Santa Monica, March 1, 1999.

…My job is to permeate the West Coast with yiddishkeit ~ practical mitzvahs. Love of the Jewish people, love of Israel, love of the Torah, love of all humankind ~ those are the principles that unite us all. The people who come to Chabad have no labels…Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Hasidic, bananas, pears, apples, whatever else it may be…we don’t even ask if you’re Jewish…”


Rabbi Baruch Shlomo Eliyahu Cunin, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of California, 

and Chabad activities on the West Coast of the United States, at the To Life Telethon, 2001.

Copyright © 2024  Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

“…To the next generation I would say ~ don’t leave Judaism…You can never leave it…the Jewish dot will remain in your heart.”


~ Rabbi Mika M. Weiss [1913~2002], Holocaust survivor and,  Rabbi Emeritus, Temple B’nai Hayim, Sherman Oaks.

Interviewed, August 23, 1999

Fine Art Acquisition of OriginalMuseum Exhibition Prints ~

Selections from LOOKING for a RABBIStudies in Pluralism Portraits by Shelley Gazin

Unique Set of Selenium-toned Archival Prints ~ 16” x 20” Hand printed

Archival printed and mounted on aluminum with custom wooden cleat for hanging.

For information about availability and pricing please

My Conversations with the Rabbis: A Study in Pluralism ~ Shelley Gazin, [Edited 2022]

My conversations with the Rabbis began one winter morning. Only Hashem knows why I felt the calling to attend a Shabbat service in the middle of January 1998…a calling disguised as an invite by a friend who suggested that a session on Kabbalah, Finley-style, might be worth a listen. So, there I found myself, amused and confused, in the middle of a West Los Angeles church that posed as a synagogue, moved to tears by the cantor”s passion, the rabbi's compelling discourse, and the congregations’s eager desire.  Desire for what exactly, I wasn’t sure. 

I figured I must be missing (out on) something and decided I’d stay awhile. And then, I spied Will Kramer, the rabbi with the wispy beard and bushy, arched eyebrows, wearing his trademark black beret and tennis shoes, and suddenly, I got it. It was time t talk to a rabbi…

Such a consultation would have been unimaginable to me at any moment prior. The clergy of my youth were rabbis I saw once a year with nothing more to offer me than admonishments not to marry outside the faith.  But now my mind flooded with questions:  What is the draw for all these people? Who is that man at the pulpit with the red ponytail who can inspire all of these people to spend a Saturday morning in shul rather than getting early parking at Neiman’s? Where had I been?

A light flashed in my head, so I brought my soul to the rabbis. The mission was clear, and the questions: Just what is a rabbi?  Who is this purveyor of a 4,000 year-old bank of wisdom? What could they teach me?

I enlisted an advisory council of sorts as I embarked on my self-assigned study. And the rabbis, each in turn, shared a little of their souls with me ~ because they understood my quest, and had determined that their job would be better served if imbued with compassion, instead of conducting Torah study alone.

Excerpt from Looking for a Rabbi: Portraits & Commentary by Shelley Gazin 

First publication, Skirball Cultural Center, Exhibition Installation, 2001.

Copyright © 2024  Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

Looking for a Rabbi ~ Exhibit Catalogue


Copyright © 2024  Shelley Gazin. All Rights Reserved.

Looking for a Rabbi
Photographs by Shelley Gazin

Written by Barbara Gilbert, Senior Curator Emeritus, Skirball Museum and Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center is pleased to present Looking for a Rabbi, a study in contemporary rabbinic portraiture that was conceived by  Los Angeles photographer, Shelley Gazin, as a means of advancing her own spiritual and intellectual growth. Gazin shows the diversity of today’s rabbis: the breadth of the calling, the various traditional and experimental movements to which contemporary rabbis belong, and the greater role played by women as non-Orthodox Jewish religious and spiritual leaders.

Since beginning the project in 1998, Gazin has photographed twenty-seven rabbis. The result is a private journey shared. Through personal interviews and attendance at synagogue services and Torah study sessions led by the rabbis, Gazin set the stage for a process of learning and interaction that continued with the photo sessions, each set in a different environment. Gazin has placed the rabbis in their studies, in their places of worship, in the privacy of their homes, or in the great outdoors.  She goes behind-the-scenes to reveal the special talents and interests of these dedicated men and women, giving a personal, intimate view of her subjects while simultaneously revealing beliefs and attitudes that they share.

In executing this project, Gazin delved both into precedents in art history and recent technical innovations in photographic production and printing. At first uncertain about the appropriateness of photographing rabbis, she learned about the common practice beginning in the eighteenth century of engraved portraits of rabbis that were printed and distributed in great numbers in order to spread the teachings of the particular rabbi.  She also explored historical painting formats that originated in the Middle Ages such as the diptych, two-paneled paintings hinged together, or the predella, a small strip of paintings which form the lower edge of a large altarpiece.  It is her merging of these historical traditions with up-to-the-minute technology from digital prints to special toning of silver-gelatin prints that makes her photographs at once timeless and contemporary.

Copyright © 2001. Skirball Museum and Cultural Center. All Rights Reserved.

Reprinted Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved.