Ally Profile: Rabbi Joshua Lief

Rabbi Lief_FP_Print_R3Rabbi Joshua B. Lief is the Senior Rabbi of historic Congregation Ahavath Chesed. He grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia where he was active in all sports, music, and was an Eagle Scout. He attended Princeton University, where he swam on the varsity squad, competed on the debate team, and graduated with a degree in History.

After Princeton, Rabbi Lief attended the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  After living in Jerusalem for the first year of the seminary, he completed his studies at HUC-JIR’s campus in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was ordained as a Rabbi in May of 2003.

Prior to moving to Jacksonville, Rabbi Lief served as the Rabbi of Mizpah Congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he helped grow the congregation and reached out to the larger community. Here in Jacksonville, he serves on the boards of ONEJAX, JCCI, and the Community Hospice. He is an avid athlete, a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, member of the Downtown Rotary Club, a graduate of the Leadership Jacksonville New Leadership Summit, enjoys and supports the arts, and is honored to engage in civic activities.

Rabbi Lief is married to his beautiful wife Rebecca. They are delighted daily by their adorable daughters, Leah and Ellie, and are proud to make Jacksonville their home.

As a Rabbi, I am relieved that Judaism only demands of me that I make myself the best person that I can possibly be.  I am not required to change anyone else to be more like me.  Indeed, with my faith in a God who is wholly (and holy) beyond my comprehension, and a conviction that all people are made in the Divine image, how could I ask anyone not to be who they are?  Many people are fond of taking Biblical verses out of context and frequently Leviticus 18:22 is cited as an injunction against homosexuality.  From my perspective, the operative verse on the issue of civil rights is actually to be found one chapter later, at Leviticus 19:17, “Reprove your neighbor, but come to no guilt on his account.”  The issue is not the perceived rightness or wrongness of any individual’s private behavior.  Rather, the issue is the absolute wrongness of public discrimination against our fellow human beings for simply being who they are.  It is quite fitting that the very next verse is Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”  Would that we could all reach that level of holiness.  Let’s keep trying.

To contact Rabbi Lief, please email him at rabbi@thetemplejacksonville.org.

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