Zalman Schachter

Zalman Schachter and The December Project

We are pleased to present to you an excerpt from an article about Zalman Schachter and his new book: The December Project.  Follow with us, a journey through life, the bar mitzvahs, schooling and journey. 

When my family moved back to Philadelphia from New York in the early 1970s so my father could be an assistant professor in the sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, it was natural that they would send my brother and me to pre-school at the Germantown Jewish Centre. Germantown was my father’s childhood synagogue; it was where he and his brother had their bar mitzvahs, my parents were married, and my grandparents were longtime (if not very active) members. But the synagogue had changed in recent years, as the burgeoning Jewish Renewal scene centered around the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in nearby Wyncote gained a foothold in Germantown’s havurot.  

I remember seeing a close friend of my parents—then in his 20s, a generation younger than they were, childless and still cool in my eyes—dancing wildly on Simchat Torah, crazily drunk, leaping and lurching in ungainly ways in the circle, passionately celebrating. At 7 or 8, I was fascinated by him; I later learned he had also dealt in stronger substances to pay his way through college, so there may have been more than alcohol in his system. The point is, his drunkenness wasn’t just a physical condition—it was connected to Torah, to Simchat Torah, to ecstasy and crazy drunk joy. I was enthralled. Click here to read the entire article or visit his page here.