About

Educator

Leon received personal rabbinic ordination from Rabbi David Hartman ז״ל. Though he devotes most of his energies to teaching and writing, he also performs lifecycle events, taking special pleasure in working with couples on their way to marriage and then performing the wedding.

Rabbi

Leon received personal rabbinic ordination from Rabbi David Hartman ז״ל. Though he devotes most of his energies to teaching and writing, he also performs lifecycle events, taking special pleasure in working with couples on their way to marriage and then performing the wedding.

I am a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and I teach at Bina’s Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv. I received a BA from Princeton University, an MA in Jewish thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, private rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Professor David Hartman ז”ל, and a PhD in philosophy from Bar Ilan University. My book U’vlekhtekha Va’derekh (Hebrew) constructs an approach to halakha based on the thought of Franz Rosenzweig. In my newest book, The Going, I offer a meditation on Jewish law. I live in Jerusalem with my wife and our five children.

The beginning of my path to the rabbinate was, in many ways, paved by my 12th grade philosophy teacher, Tony Sirignano, who taught me the consummate importance of taking ideas seriously – in discourse and in one’s lived life. When Rabbi David Hartman ז״ל invited me to study with him for rabbinic ordination, I took a few days to think about it, and, since accepting the offer, have spent tremendous time and energy trying to be worthy of that title.

My greatest joy and my deepest sense of fulfillment are as husband to Bruria and father to Yael, Shiraz, Yifat, Yiska, and Evyatar. To be sure, I find it extremely difficult to translate Franz Rosenzweig from German to Hebrew, or to make clear the striking relevance of many Talmudic discussions for contemporary discourse. But for me, the challenge of being a good husband and father is qualitatively more demanding – and important.

I was born in Houston, Texas to Frieda and Melvin Dow. My four older brothers left an indelible imprint on me by using me as a football, closing me in a foldaway bed when I snored, and – most often – waking me up after I had fallen asleep, telling me it was morning and time to get ready for school, and waiting until I got into the shower until they confessed that it was 9pm and I could go back to bed.

One of the foremost challenges for me of living in Israel is overcoming the 8-hour time difference that separates me from the Houston Rockets and the Astros. A second is leaving my three pair of cowboy boots unworn in the closet (except for on the holiday of Purim).

I compensate for my longing for Texas primarily by listening to a spate of artists who range from Country to Western Swing to Alternative Country. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Gillian Welch, Jason Isbell, Jerry Jeff Walker. Todd Snider and Jeffrey Foucault sneak into the mix. And when I need a good Texas-Jewish-twang infused with laughter, it’s Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.

Get the latest critically acclaimed book: The Going