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Monday, September 26, 2011
Rabbi Jennifer Krause: The Jewish Katie Couric

imageWNET’s MetroFocus named Rabbi Jennifer Krause one of NYC’s Hippest Rabbis and called her “the Jewish Katie Couric.” No stranger to us, Rabbi Krause has led the popular High Holidays services at 92Y since 2004. Metrofocus notes her “Rabbi Without Borders” style:

And ye shall know me: Krause is known for gigs as an interviewer and guest-host about town. For “Backstage Pass: Values and Visions Behind the Scenes,” a series she founded at the 92nd Street Y, she conducted onstage interviews with Elie Wiesel, actor Leonard Nimoy and “Sex and the City” writer/producer Cindy Chupack. She said one of her favorite interviews so far was with restaurateur Danny Meyer. “Danny and I talked a lot about the mitzvah of welcoming guests,” said Krause. Krause’s probing conversations continue at the downtown coffeehouse Joe, with a series called “Oy Latte.”

Preparing to repent: Krause said she’s working with her cantor Josh Nelson, with whom she often leads services, to include a rendition of U2′s “All I Want Is You” into this year’s service. There’s also an electric guitar Jimi Hendrix version of penitential prayer Avinu Malkeinu on the playlist.

Rabbi Krause is the author of The Answer: Making Sense of Life, One Question at a Time and her commentary has been featured in Newsweek, US News and World Report, Allure and O, The Oprah Magazine. Read her thoughts for the New Year from Jewish Woman magazine:

While being grateful for what’s ahead brings us hope, gratitude for what’s already in our midst proves a far more difficult, and easily forgotten, task. When I’m so fixated on what’s next that I’m overlooking what is, I rely on another gratitude model derived from a Jewish approach to—what else?—eating. And that’s where those rabbis of old continue to come to the rescue. Their instinct that we’re more able to offer heartfelt thanks after we’ve eaten than when we’re too ravenous to think straight predates a recently documented scientific phenomenon by thousands of years: “hanger.” A combination of hunger and anger, “hanger” occurs when we need to eat and our serotonin levels plummet. It’s the reason why, when I’ve skipped breakfast, worked through lunch and am waiting in line at the diner, I not only feel like I’ll die if I don’t get my grilled cheese sandwich, but that I might take a few innocent bystanders along with me! That’s why Hamotzi, the official opening blessing for any complete meal, is a one-liner, whereas Birkat Hamazon (the Grace after Meals) is several paragraphs long.

One of those paragraphs begins with the phrase, “Nodeh lecha —we thank you.” Yet, why not take this awareness beyond the table, using it to focus on what we already have, instead of waiting until things like illness, a close call, war or personal hardship bring us face-to-face with what we have and what we could have lost? Finding gratitude when we’re sated can help us feel less deprived, and sometimes even highlights that we have as much as, if not more than, we need. In this way, any time we take stock of what’s readily in our midst is a nodeh lecha moment.

[High Holiday Services at 92Y]

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