Rabbi Tsurah August received smicha from ALEPH in August 2003. She has been deeply committed to Jewish Renewal since she and her husband Yosaif attended their first shabbaton with Reb Zalman in 1985. The joy and meaning she experienced there led her to study with Reb Zalman at the Wisdom School, inspired her to help re-new the NYC P'nai Or Chavurah and to continue to be involved with ALEPH, as a board member in 1989, and as a participant and leader in various programs and projects throughout the years.
Before entering the Smicha program six years ago, Tsurah honed her organizational and management skills as the president of a management consulting firm, and prior to that, her leadership and teaching skills as a choreographer, performer, educator and arts administrator, specializing in interdisciplinary arts.
In 1997, upon Reb Marcia's advice, Tsurah enrolled in the rabbinic program at the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City, in order to have the depth and continuity of study required for ordination. She received smicha from AJR this past May. While pursuing her rabbinic studies, she studied Clinical Pastoral Education with the Jewish Institute of the HealthCare Chaplaincy in NYC. She also had the pleasure of serving as rabbi; as rabbinic chaplain, at hospitals and nursing homes; creating and leading support groups; officiating at many life-cycle events and working with b'nai mitzvah students and their families. For the past 3 years she was the Acting Advisor to Jewish Students at Vassar College, working with students and staff to help make Jewish life vibrant and meaningful. She is a founding team member of Transitional Keys, an organization devoted to developing resources for elders in long-term care settings, through the use of ritual and the arts.
Combining her knowledge of Judaism with her arts and education background, she has created and led diverse workshops, programs and special services on topics such as healing, loss and grief, aging, interdisciplinary approaches to text study, and ritual - her particular area of interest and expertise. These have been presented at congregations and regional, national and international conferences.
The ALEPH community has been Tsurah's spiritual mishpacha from the first moment she was welcomed in. She is grateful to Reb Marcia and Reb Zalman for the honor of being accepted into and nurtured in the Smicha program, to her fellow students and superb teachers, to Reb Shaya Isenberg for his great generosity as her mentor, her children, Marika, Luke and Gail and grandson Harry, for their abiding love, and to her husband Yosaif, her partner and her love.