Rabbi Shafir's Bio - Short Version

Here's just a bit about who and what I am -- much more will be included in And I Wear a Tallit, the book on which I am currently working.

Click here to email Rabbi Shafir
Rabbi Shafir's Space

Shafir Lobb received smicha (ordination) from the ALEPH Rabbinical program and now lives in Port Saint Lucie, FL.  Shafir has a diverse background and many varied experiences which she brings to her rabbinate.  Shafir is the rabbi of Congregation Eitz Chayim in Port Saint Lucie, FL. She is an officer of the Treasure Coast Association of Rabbis, a member of the Port Saint Lucie Interfaith Clergy Association and teaches several classes at Indian River State College.  She is the Editor and compiler of the new prayerbook series, Tefilat HaLev (Prayers of the Heart), a multi-formatted series of books for Shabbat and Festivals. [click here to see them] She is also the editor and compiler of the new Machzorim (High Holy Day Prayer Book) series To Life! These prayer books are part of a series of Machzorim designed specially for use in Assisted Living and other Care Facilities.

Shafir moved to Port Saint Lucie from Tucson, AZ, where she was the rabbi of Congregation Kol Simchah for eight years.  She is the past President of the Tucson Board of Rabbis and served on the Boards of the Jewish Children and Family Services and the Jewish History Museum in Tucson.  Prior to moving to Tucson, she served as the rabbi of Hadar Israel and as  a Chaplain Associate at the Akron General Medical Center.   Shafir conducts distance learning classes.  She also taught in Tucson as part of the Melton Program and Brandeis.  Shafir has lectured as part of the interfaith panel for the annual Children of Abraham Journey Together conference in Lakeside, OH.  She was also on the Board of Directors of the International Center for Peace in Tucson.

Prior to her current activities, Shafir was a Tire Engineer at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio for seventeen years. She was awarded eleven patents for inventions she made while working at Goodyear. Before that, Shafir worked as a Chief Flight Instructor in Akron and even did a stint as the 'Traffic Pilot and Announcer' in Pittsburgh, PA. She was also a Captain in the PA Air National Guard.

Shafir's father, Rabbi Sholom Silver (z"l), was born in Wacz, Hungary, the 22nd generation of rabbis in his family. Shafir is the 23rd generation. Shafir's father met her mother, Marion (z"l), who was from a very liberal family in Vienna, Austria when they were both in New York. They raised her to love her Jewishness. Shafir started saying that she was going to be a rabbi when she was only three years old and they never discouraged her, although they did say it would take a lot of study and hard work. Shafir learned to lead services and to leyn Torah as a young girl, and she has loved doing so ever since.

Along with her Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Akron, Shafir has a Bachelors of Art in Religion from Ursinus College and a Masters in Judaic Thought from Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland. She is currently working on a PhD from Northcentral University, where she is ABD (All but dissertation, with CP accepted).  The title of her dissertation in process is "Exploring Leadership Goals for Academic Education and Identity Development in Complementary Jewish Education for Adolescents."  She is also studying from a doctorate with Spertus Institute, where her dissertation is on "Jewish Identity of Child Holocaust Survivors with Interrupted Primary Education."  When not working at one of her many activities or studying, Shafir and her husband, Bill, enjoy spending time with friends and their dogs.

Parsha of the Week
To learn about the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, click through HERE to go to ALEPH's Website and select the Rabbinic Program.
Congregation Eitz Chayim
Click here to see some articles about Shafir

From the Cleveland Jewish News -- Rosh Hashanah edition 5763 (2002) 

Area women study for rabbinate in 'yeshiva without walls'

Jewish learning sweet for Candy

She's been a radio traffic pilot, a tire engineer, a flower-shop clerk, a flight instructor 
and a professional "life coach." But in the back of her mind, Candy Lobb of Canton 
always dreamed of becoming a rabbi.

She's pursuing her dream now through the rabbinic smicha (ordination) program 
offered through ALEPH, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. This unusual "yeshiva without walls" provides training and connections to dedicated learners who, for various reasons, cannot or will not attend a full-time rabbinical seminary (see sidebar). 

I first met Lobb when she spoke during a Torah discussion at a Shabbat service held at my cousin's home. I was immediately drawn to her sage words, her warmth, her intense, violet eyes. This is a teacher, a learned woman, I thought. I want to learn more from her.

At midlife, Lobb is at last following in her father's footsteps. He was a rabbi with Orthodox smicha who practiced Conservative Judaism. "Rav Sholem" encouraged his daughter's dream, though he warned it would be difficult for her, as a woman. (The first female rabbi, former Clevelander Sally Priesand, was not ordained until 1972).

Lobb enrolled in the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College back in 1972, but admits she "wasn't ready then." Her father's untimely death brought her back to her native Pittsburgh to be with her mother. There, Lobb added a master's degree in education to her undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion. After stints teaching Hebrew, peddling petals, and serving as the helicopter "eye in the sky," Lobb took a position as an instructor at Canton's McKinley Air Flight School in 1979. 

A voracious student, Lobb added a degree in engineering to her resume while teaching at the flight school. Seventeen years as a Goodyear tire engineer followed. But for many years, her love of Torah learning was unfulfilled.

Nearly 25 years ago, Lobb was hard-pressed to find the right home for her Judaism in Canton's small Jewish community. "I went (to the Conservative shul) Shabbat morning with my tallit (prayer shawl), and the rabbi and 10 men walked out. I thought to myself, 'I can't do this. I can't take my tallit off, but I can't do this to the congregation, either.'" Nor was the more traditionally minded Lobb comfortable at the time in the Reform congregation. "So I became a very private Jew, davening (praying) at home," she concludes.

Meanwhile, Lobb channeled her inclination toward pastoral work into private counseling as a "life coach," which she explains is "working with someone to help them realize what they want and how to get it. You help them prioritize ... to achieve success." 

The need to say kaddish for her mother, who died in December of 1998, brought Lobb back to worshipping in a public setting. Finding Rabbi John Spitzer "a neat guy," she became active at Canton's Temple Israel (Reform). "I went from nothing to being the fund-raising and programming VP," she laughs.

Lobb had been considering the idea of private study with rabbis to obtain smicha when she encountered Rabbi Tirtzah Firestone's book With Roots in Heaven. Pursuing the reference to ALEPH in the back of the book, Lobb discovered the possibility of distance learning through the Renewal movement.

She should reach her goal by next summer. In addition to studying locally with Rabbis Spitzer and Shimon Brand and mentor Rob Spira, Lobb has pursued a master's degree at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies, served as student rabbi for Congregation Eytz Chayim here, and participated in weekly distance-learning telephone courses. She's also taught Torah and Talmud at Temple Emanuel and The Temple-Tifereth Israel, respectively. Next year, she'll complete a special project with Renewal's founder, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, prior to an official ordination ceremony in July. 

Lobb seems to have handled this dizzying schedule with aplomb. "When you set your own schedule, the onus is on you to do the work and document it," she advises. "I'm very focused, so it's not difficult to stay disciplined."

After smicha, Lobb hopes to combine teaching with congregational leadership. Her husband of 22 years, Bill, will retire after 30 years at Goodyear. 

Lobb is enriched by both the scholarship and spirituality of the Renewal movement. "(Renewal is) about providing a loving, open environment that supports and fosters experimentation," she explains. For Lobb, "halacha (Jewish law) is a dance, to wrestle with what works for you. Find out what it says and why it says it. Given today's world, what is the appropriate response?"

Smicha for Simcha

If someone had told Simcha Leavitt (née Susie Schneider) in high school that she would one day study for the rabbinate, she probably would have laughed. For the first few decades of her life, this slender brunette with a winning smile followed a conventional suburban path. 

Graduating from Orange High School in 1979, Leavitt went on to Indiana University, where she majored in psychology and business. She married at 22, worked as the director of a business college and had the first of her three children at age 26.

"Growing up, we were cultural Jews," Leavitt remembers. "We were members of Park Synagogue, went to services on High Holidays. I had Jewish friends, was confirmed. We were connected, but not religious."

But the self-described "spiritual seeker" began to explore Judaism more seriously when her children were born. "I had to ask, 'What does it mean to raise them as Jews?'" Leavitt, her then-husband, and some relatives began studying with Aish HaTorah, attending Shabbat services regularly, and observing holidays. They became active members of Congregation Shaarey Tikvah which "shaped the foundation for family life and practices I never would have figured I'd be engaged in."

Leavitt found herself at a crossroads, wanting to become a therapist, but also interested in the "psychospiritual" writings of Jewish Renewal thinkers. Like Candy Lobb, Leavitt found Tirtzah Firestone's With Roots in Heaven transformative.

"The book changed my life. I wrote to (Firestone), met her. It was the key to my thinking that what I was being called to do was feasible."

Leavitt was sold on Renewal after attending a meditation conference in New York City, where she encountered "literally 1,000 Jews chanting, swaying, crying. I said, 'This does exist in Judaism, it's real.'"

After a year of preliminary coursework, Leavitt was accepted into the ALEPH program and has completed two years of study. She still feels like she's at the beginning of her journey.

Right now, Leavitt is taking a "potpourri of learning," including parsha classes, Jewish history, and Hasidic textual study. With three school-age kids to care for, "it may take 10 years," but Leavitt is working on developing patience.

Her son, Noah, 6, made her a kipa. "'For when you're a rabbi,' he said. I said, 'Give it to me now!'" she jokes. 

While she admits it's sometimes hard to stay on track without benefit of other rabbinical students nearby, she feels supported by Candy Lobb and others in the program across the country. "People are just a phone call away," Leavitt muses.

Eventually, she'd like to offer spiritual counseling and engage in chaplaincy work, perhaps working for a congregation.

Recalling movement leader Rabbi Daniel Siegal's irritation with the charge that Renewal is "Judaism Lite," Leavitt counters, "It's Judaism light. Light brings people in, makes them want to come back. That's the beginning, not the end. If people connect to (the divine), they'll want to learn more."

Jewish Renewal and the ALEPH Smicha program

Jewish Renewal is an unaffiliated, trans-denominational movement that has influenced all branches of Judaism. Jewish Renewal seeks to transform and renew the kavanah (spirit) with which Jews practice Judaism, and to find the modern meaning of Judaism as a spiritual practice. (For more information, see Jeffrey Levick's story, "Renewing interest in the faith," online in The SOURCE at www.clevelandjewishnews.com/source/ Click on "articles.")

The ALEPH rabbinic and cantorial programs offer structure, guidance and mentoring to students of diverse backgrounds and denominations. The decentralized program currently connects approximately 80 rabbis and scholars with over 40 students across the country. 

Entering students must have a bachelor's degree, demonstrate Hebrew proficiency, liturgical knowledge and service-leading skills. The time required to complete the program varies with the individual student's background and time constraints.

To learn more about ALEPH, go to www.aleph.org                                      BACK

From the Cleveland Jewish News -- July 18, 2003 edition

Bima me UP!   The next generation of rabbis *

By ARLENE FINE Staff Reporter

With openings across the country for qualified rabbis and cantors, choosing a rabbinic career is more attractive than ever. 

It also can be a life-defining decision. As Rabbi Reuven Bulka, founding editor of the Journal of Psychology and Judaism, notes, "The pulpit is a most powerful instrument, both because of what the rabbi can do with it and because of what it can do to the rabbi."

Following are "snapshots" of several area men and women who are about to or will ascend the bima (pulpit) within the next few years. They will see what kind of music they can play for themselves and their congregation with this "powerful instrument." 

High-flying rabbinic student

Call her a bit flighty and Candy Lobb will understand; this senior-year rabbinic student 
was a flight instructor prior to entering rabbinic school. 

Lobb, was also an engineer with Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Akron for 17 years and is 
currently working part time as a life coach, a non-judgmental individual who helps 
people achieve their goals.

But the calling of the rabbinate is what fills most of Lobb's time. This non-traditionalist 
chose to participate in the Jewish renewal's ALEPH Rabbinic Program, also called a 
"yeshiva-without-walls."  The program involves studies of traditional hasidic texts and 
contemporary interpreters of those texts in addition to more standard rabbinic studies.  
It is open to Jews of all denominations. 

Lobb has taken a number of her classes at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies, getting her MA in Jewish Studies in June 2003. She has also traveled around the country learning from Jewish scholars.

Lobb comes by her interest in the rabbinate genetically.  She is a descendant of 22 rabbis, including her father. 

"As a child, I told my father I wanted to become a rabbi," says the Brooklyn, N.Y., native. "Even though he was raised Orthodox, my father encouraged me to pursue my dream."

Lobb sees the evolving role of today's rabbi not so much as a prayer leader, but as a spiritual coach. "Many lay people are capable of leading services, but it is up to the rabbi to lead them to the spiritual well and serve as a reference source," she says. 

Lobb, who currently resides in Canton with her husband, Bill, intends to finish her course work by January 2004. She says that one of her instructors said something that has remained in her heart: "'As a rabbi, you may not always be great, but your worst has to be adequate.' I ask myself, 'Can I live up to that?'" 

* note: some errors have been edited.

-------------------------------------------------- Note by Candy 

The ALEPH rabbinic and cantorial programs offer structure, guidance and mentoring to students of diverse backgrounds and denominations. The decentralized program currently connects approximately 80 rabbis and scholars with over 40 students across the country. 

Entering students must have a bachelor's degree, demonstrate Hebrew proficiency, liturgical knowledge and service-leading skills. The time required to complete the program varies with the individual student's background and time constraints.

To learn more about ALEPH, go to www.aleph.org


She sees the evolving role of today's rabbi as a "spiritual coach."
An active ALEPH supporter
So where does Candy come from?
So where does CANDY come from?  

This is a question that I hear from time to time.  And the answer is that it comes from many years ago when I was about 4 years old.  My father (a"h) was the rabbi of the congregation and my mother (a"h) was the principal of the Sunday school.   

At that time, I was going through a phase where I had a different name every day -- one day it was tree, another day it was chocolate, house, whatever word popped into my little 4-year old head.  My parents had learned to start the day by asking me what my name was for that day.  Well, Sunday school was starting and at 4, they decided I could go to kindergarten.  

That day, my name was Cookie.  When class started, my teacher asked each of us what our name was and I answered "Cookie".  The teacher thought she could get me to use my real name by saying "You can't be Cookie because my name is Cookie."  So I answered, "Okay, call me Candy."  And Candy it was.

The next week, nobody asked me what my name was that day, the just called me Candy.  Eventually, that name came home with me through my classmates and my parents gave up fighting it -- it stuck.  And it stuck until my ordination - so now people know me either as Candy or as Shafir (my Hebrew name).

Certificates of Smicha (Ordination)