About Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
For 26 years, Jonathan Omer-Man lived in Israel; he worked as a farmer (kibbutznik) on a communal farm until he contracted polio. After trying his hand for a couple of years as an electrician and as a high-school teacher, he moved to Jerusalem and embarked on a career in publishing. He served as Deputy Chief Editor of the Israel Program for Scientific Translations (from Russian to English, for the N.S.F.), revising editor at the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Chief Editor of Israel Universities Press (working with major Israeli scholars, including Prof. Gershom Scholem), and editor of the Shefa Quarterly (the latter in close collaboration with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz). In his mid-thirties, he felt drawn to the study of Jewish mysticism in what became a life-long passion, and found mentors in the worlds of academia and the Hasidic community.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1981, where he founded Metivta: a center for contemplative Judaism, an academy dedicated to the renewal of traditional Jewish meditation and to the deepening of personal religious quest. Metivta has since become a model for small, dedicated, spiritually-oriented communities. He also participated in founding the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and served as a member of its faculty for a number of years.
He has lectured at universities, colleges, synagogues, seminaries, and monasteries throughout the United States and has raised numerous students, rabbinic and lay. His publications include essays, short fiction, and verse, though he is more often the subject of others' books than author of his own. In 1990, he visited the Dalai Lama in India, a journey that was described in Rodger Kamenetz's The Jew in the Lotus. He was ordained as a rabbi privately by Rabbi Zalman Schachter.
Now retired and living in Berkeley with his wife Nan, he is continuing his explorations into Jewish mysticism, in addition to studying sober Sufism, classical Arabic and Ibn Arabi. He is also actively involved in blogging on this website, Perpetual Pilgrim, attempting to find a balance between normative liturgy and symbolic mysticism — all in posts of 250 words or less!
He is a proud father of four and grandfather of four, all of whom live in Israel.
Metivta is in the process of preparing for Rabbi Omer-Man's new book, Perpetual Pilgrim, for publication. This will be a collection of his oral teachings, edited by Kristine McKenna, and is being financed completely through public donations.