Friday, September 17, 2010

Biography: Rabbi Daniel Brenner

Daniel S. Brenner (1969) is an American rabbi. In 2009, he was named by Newsweek Magazine as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America.

Brenner was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, studied in Jerusalem at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, and earned both an M.A. and rabbinic title from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

 Photography by Bruce Cohen
After ordination, Brenner was awarded a Steinhardt Fellowship to study with one of the twentieth century's most gifted theologians, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg at CLAL - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York City.  

Brenner went on to serve on the faculty of CLAL from 1998 – 2003 where he authored works on medical ethics with Joseph Fins MD (Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College) and Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard  (Embracing Life and Facing Death, A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care, 2002) on spirituality with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and on a variety of Jewish topics for periodicals including The Forward, Spirituality & Health, Beliefnet, and The Jewish Week.

In 2003, Brenner became the first Rabbi to direct a center of learning at Auburn Theological Seminary, a historic Presbyterian seminary on Manhttan’s Upper West side.

At Auburn, Brenner spearheaded the creation of the nation's first doctoral level program for clergy who work in the context of religious diversity, developed a program for religious leaders with Columbia University's Center for the Study of Science and Religion, and created a religious diversity curricula for Face to Face/Faith to Faith, Auburn's international youth leadership program.  Brenner was also at the epicenter of an effort to stop anti-Israel divestment in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and his efforts in this debate garnered him a Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism

In 2007, Brenner became the vice president, education of the Birthright Israel Foundation and the founding executive director of Birthright Israel NEXT, an organization dedicated to engaging young adults in Jewish community life. Under his guidance, Birthright Israel NEXT grew to become a national organization with programs that reached over 50,000 young Jewish adults each year. As part of this effort, Brenner launched Next Shabbat, a grassroots program that has sponsored over 20,000 home-hospitality events.

In 2011, Brenner left Birthright Israel to join the Jewish educational organization Moving Traditions. In this capacity, Brenner is currently advancing a national educational program for teen boys, entitled Shevet Achim: The Brotherhood, which aims to reverse the trend of young Jewish men disconnecting from the community following bar mitzvah.    

In addition to being a Rabbi, Brenner is a published playwright  and essayist and his commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Jerusalem Post, KtB, Huffington PostIconia and NPR’s Infinite Mind. In 2012, he had the pleasure of serving as the official Rabbi for the Wall Street Journal's Passover wine tasting.

Wikipedia entry: Daniel Brenner