Praying and Playing Music with Rabbi Zoe B. Zak
1. Please share what you do:
I’m honored to be the rabbi of a wonderful community, the Temple Israel of Catskill. As a chaplain with the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, I visit residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Music is my preferred medium in how I pray and praise. I share my work through the Peace Ensemble, a music ensemble of Jewish & Christian clergy striving to spread peace through the sharing of music. I’m also involved with another ensemble focused on African-Jewish music fusion.
2. Why do you do what you do?
I feel a calling! That calling drives everything that I do. The pull can feel so strong that I sometimes need to pump the breaks just to let myself recalibrate!
3. What are you currently fascinated by in your work?
I love spending time with people of different backgrounds and upbringings. Even with all the differences, I’m in awe by what we all share. I’m amazed every time I can look into someone’s eyes or shake someone’s hand and know they aren’t really a stranger at all. To recognize and be recognized is truly a blessing.
4. How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers?
I’ve always been playing music and praying — yearning to express what I experience on the inside. I believe in healing and that my gifts are meant to support healing in others. My father Louis Buchman of blessed memory is my forever-teacher. Even though he passed 23 years ago, he keeps guiding me.
My aha moments come daily … usually from interactions with people who move me with their humanness and depth of compassion!
5. What book(s) did you like reading this year?
Recently I read The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self by Nick Ortner, and this book has made a real difference in my life. I highly recommend it.
6. If you’ve taught at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat before, what is one surprising thing about the experience for you?
I’ve been teaching at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, New York for several years. This has been a beautiful experience for me and one that has enriched my life. Everyone always asks, “Have you been to the Bahamas yet?” I’m so honored to be coming this October and to meet those new friends I haven’t yet met.
Rabbi Zoe Zak serves as rabbi of Temple Israel of Catskill in New York, as well as Outreach Chaplain for the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York. Rabbi Zoe is a founding member of Peace Ensemble, where Christian and Jewish clergy join together in music to share the message of peace. Rabbi Zoe is a performer, composer, and producer with more than 30 albums to her credit.