Rabbi Leana Moritt, spiritual leader of the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation in New York City and founder and director of Thresholds: For the Jewishly Curious, lead a lively series of free workshops exploring Jewish attitudes toward “Pleasures of the Flesh.” The workshops were sponsored by National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), West Morris Section and
coordinated through the organization’s Our Jewish World program, chaired by Ellen Nesson and Melanie Levitan, both of Morristown.
The workshop series was held at noon on April 13, 21, and 27, at the Morris County Library, 30 E. Hanover Ave., in Whippany.
“Over our three weeks together, we will discuss and look at some perhaps surprising and inspirational Jewish texts from the Bible, Talmud and later rabbinic and scholarly literature exploring pleasures of the flesh,” said the rabbi. “We will ask and answer questions like these: What are our tradition’s attitudes toward sex? Is it for pleasure? Procreation? Both? Something else? What is more important? What is permitted between consenting partners? What if you have a headache?”
Rabbi Moritt delved into how Jewish tradition sees using and even abusing alcohol and other psychotropic substances: “What is their purpose in a Jewish life? A life of holiness? In spiritual exploration? Knowing God? The workshop leader also examined our spiritual relationship with food as it relates to the pleasure–and sometimes guilt–that it also inspires.”
Rabbi Moritt is a gifted singer and facilitator of life-cycle events, such as weddings, baby namings and funerals. Her work also includes the creation and shaping of ritual. She was awarded the Rabbi Chana Timoner Creative Liturgy Award by the Association of Rabbis and Cantors in 2008 for her innovative work on Jewish divorce rituals within a traditional setting.
Native to the New York area, Rabbi Moritt was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion, the nation’s first Jewish pluralistic seminary (established in 1956) in Riverdale, N.Y. She was later additionally ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal program, where she is on the rabbinic faculty, teaching entering clergy. She is a Rabbis Without Borders rabbinic fellow, a member of the Association of Rabbis and Cantors, OHALAH, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains.