Rabbi Jonathan Porath


"I have known Rabbi Jonathan Porath since he was a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and have followed his career with satisfaction and affection.

Intellectual curiosity, spiritual thirst, passion for learning, human warmth help him become an exciting Jewish activist and public speaker.

He brings pride to his teachers."

-- Elie Wiesel


Federations and OrganizationsRabbis and Synagogue ProfessionalsLay LeadersParticipants, Day Schools and Students of All Ages

Federations and Jewish Organizations

“Thank you for your warmth, kindness, inspiration and wonderful stories. Everyone loved your presentations, speaking to the Federation staff, adults and recent retirees, as well as to the Annual Meeting of the Greater Portland Federation. I am so appreciative you were here and delighted that you blessed Portland with your visit. I look forward to seeing you again in the near future.”

--Marc N. Blattner, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Portland, OR

"With energy and warmth, with humor and intelligence, Rabbi Jonathan Porath came to New Haven and spoke to staff, four different synagogue study groups, elders at assisted living facilities, and students and their parents at our day schools. Seemingly indefatigable and with an extensive reservoir of knowledge from which to draw from, he taught Torah, Rambam, ethics, current events, and the entire sweep of Jewish history to the fortunate participants in his study sessions. Rabbi Porath's interpersonal skills and enviable pedagogic style enhance his ability to reach different age groups and different educational backgrounds. He has an enthusiasm which is contagious!"

--Sydney A. Perry, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven

"It was terrific having Rabbi Porath at our Jewish Leadership Institute. His depth of knowledge on overseas needs is impressive and presented in an engaging manner. Out participants came away with a much better understanding of their role in the big communal picture."

--Beth Cherner, Vice President, Campaign, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago

"Rabbi Porath was one of the most exciting and engaging speakers we have ever had in North Louisiana. His audience here was composed of people of all ages, of Jews [and some non-Jews-JP] everywhere on the spectrum from liberal to traditional--and he kept everyone spellbound, as he recounted his adventures as an emissary of the JDC in Russia.

Through his warmth and engaging personality he connected with all of our donors and helped them to understand the good works they are facilitating through the Jewish Federation."

--Susan Gross, Executive Director of the North Louisiana Jewish Federation [Shreveport]

"Your time in Peoria went too quickly as we knew it would. Your warm and engaging personality, knowledge of Judaism and ability to make everything enjoyable and meaningful is a gift. Your Lunch and Learn text study about Rabbi Akiva brought the story to life in a way that many of us had never experienced. You told us the story, and taught us how to interpret it with such zest and love of Torah it was a joy for all of us and an honor to participate."

--Susan Katz, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Peoria

"Rabbi Jonathan Porath from Jerusalem, on the Jewish Federations of North America Speaker's Bureau, was a Scholar in Residence here in the Quad Cities. He was great! I would definitely recommend him for programs in your community. We will certainly have him back in the future.

What I really liked was that he was very personable, and before his presentations he mingles and schmoozes with the audience.

I received many accolades on his presentations, which were as follows:
1. He spoke on the first evening at the Moline Public Library to over 115 attendees on All of Jewish History from Abraham Until the Present Day in One Hour;
2. He led a Christian Ladies' Bible Group in speaking about Psalms [the Federation is very heavily engaged in pro-Israel outreach with the general community-JP];
3. He addressed a community luncheon on Creating Caring Hearts and Loving Souls for Ourselves and Our Children;
4. He presented on the second evening on 175 Trips to the Jews of Russia."

--Allan Ross, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities [Rock Island, Illinois]

"Our Lunch and Learn students thoroughly enjoyed Rabbi Porath's class, especially his energy and enthusiastic teaching. We would be happy to have him back again!"

--Pamela Ehrenkranz, Executive Director of the UJA Federation of Greenwich [Connecticut]

"It was an absolute pleasure having you in our community. We truly appreciate your willingness to do so many programs in such a short period of time, and to do it with such enthusiasm and energy. I've had wonderful feedback on all of the sessions. I also very appreciated how you integrated the Federation and our mission and goals into your presentations. I will pass the word to the other Federation execs and to the Jewish Federations of North America Speaker’s Bureau."

--Jo Datz, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Springfield, Illinois

"Thank you for a wonderful weekend! I have already had members of the community asking me when we will be bringing you back. Your ability to connect with all audiences, from high school age to retirees is absolutely amazing--it truly was an outstanding experience for us all."

--Jessica Kopolow, Interim Director, Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation

"Rabbi Jonathan Porath is a dynamic teacher of Torah and Talmud who engages his audiences in unique, thoughtful dialogue and discussion. I encourage every community to bring him to your town to teach your leadership, your boards, immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and the community. I enjoyed learning from Rabbi Porath and I know you will too. Please call me for a reference. It will certainly be a positive one!"

--Marilyn Chandler, Executive Director, Greensboro Jewish Federation

"Thank you for joining the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Bearing Witness Advanced group for a Shabbat Experience in Jerusalem. The 20 educators from Catholic Schools who are teaching the Shoah in parochial schools across the United States truly enjoyed their experiences with you. Your spiritual message of understanding and compassion resonated greatly with the group. I plan to call upon you in the future to continue your excellent work with our interfaith partners. Thanks again."

--Dr. Ed Alster, Director of Education of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

"We extend to you our sincere thanks for Blessing us with your presence and your wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing your faith with my students. I am sure they appreciated direct contact with true believers. We welcome you back anytime."

--Father Joseph DeFrancisco, Department of Theology, St. Ambrose University [Catholic auspicies], Davenport, Iowa

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Rabbis and Synagogue Professionals

“Your recent weekend with the congregation was fabulous. You brought out people who rarely attend such Shabbat events. You have the rare capacity to reach adults and youth alike. Your Shabbat Scholar in Residence weekend was one of the most well-received in my 34 years at Adath Jeshurun.”

--Rabbi Robert Slosberg, Adath Jeshurun, Louisville, KY

“Our evening with Rabbi Jonathan Porath was nothing short of magical. His talk was captivating, insightful, deeply inspiring, funny and uplifting. Even in a crowd where virtually everybody had been to Israel, some several times, he brought the miracle of Israel alive in a truly remarkable way. And were not his wonderful talk enough. before and after the speech, he made sure to greet every attendee personally, to hear what he could of his/her story, and to connect with each in a remarkable and memorable way.”

--Rabbi Phil Scheim, Beth David, Toronto

“Your talk on the teachings and Torah of Elie Wiesel, z”l was truly inspiring. You connected his teaching to your life and from your life to ours. Your enthusiasm, your flare for animated presentation and your skill at weaving together Torah and anecdotes from your life and Elie Wiesel’s kept the attention of the audience from beginning to end. The finale, the clip from the Elie Wiesel in Concert DVD, left everyone speechless. The impact was overwhelming.”

--Rabbi Lionel Moses, Shaare Zion Congregation, Montreal

"What a pleasure it was to have you with us. My congregants were enthralled by your enthusiasm and your insightfulness as you led us through vignettes from your life's work with Soviet Jews, lessons you have gleaned from your family and genealogy, and from your skillful use of texts. The best compliment comes from the many people who, at the end of the weekend, were anxious for more."

--Rabbi Neil Cooper, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, Wynnewood, Pa.

"Your presence here in Sacramento this weekend has been nothing less than extraordinary. Your ability to touch people of every age and stage of life during your five presentations is remarkable. You have inspired and elevated our Jewish consciousness. We are enriched because of your gifts."

--Rabbi Reuven Taff, Mosaic Law Congregation, Sacramento, California

"Your enthusiasm is contagious. As our Spring Scholar in Residence for the third year in a row, you brought new and insightful teachings to every part of our community. The way you were able to relate to the children and share your love for the Jewish People truly made an impact in the lives of our students in the pre-school and Religious School. It was a wonderful month of learning for our entire community. Thank you for showing us how to bring meaning and light into our lives."

--Rabbi Nogah Marshall, Har Zion Temple, Penn Valley, Pa.

"Your Shavuot sermon ['Taking the Sad Journey'] was a real tour de force. It was passionate, loving, beautifully crafted, and everyone could relate it to. I have heard many comments of praise…Your session at Seudah Shlesheet ['How to Be a Mentsh'] was charming, engaging and enlightening. You kept us all involved and interested. It was very special.

I look forward to having you teach again in our congregation, and would be happy to recommend you without reservation to any of our colleagues who are looking for a fantastic scholar in residence."

--Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Philadelphia

"After more than two decades of Scholars in Residence, many identified you as their favorite one. You have a rich treasury of stories about Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union which are an affirmation that our Tzedaka dollars we send to the Jewish Federation are used to help Jews in ways we find meaningful and most worthwhile. Moreover, your warm and open approach was a pleasure to see and feel. I am confident that we will be seeing you again in the Lehigh Valley in the future."

--Rabbi Allen Juda, Congregation Brith Sholom, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—Lehigh Valley

"I want to tell you that it was a GREAT weekend of learning and sharing. The feedback I have received has been extraordinary. I want to thank you for a memorable weekend, from start to finish. Kol Hakavod!"

--Rabbi Carl Astor, Congregation Beth El [Conservative], New London, Connecticut

"Rabbi Jonathan Porath is overflowing with enthusiasm for Jews and Judaism. He came to our community and made friends wherever he spoke. I attended three of his presentations. Both older children and adults found his excitement contagious, his humor infectious, and his openness inviting."

--Rabbi Norman Klein, Sinai Temple [Reform], Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

“Your quick wit, expansive knowledge and engaging personality made our Shabbat pass only too quickly. With you as teacher, it was a joyous experience in Torah study, with interactive discussion spiced with laughter. We trust that our parting is temporary."

--Dr. Ed Pritzker, President of Congregation Agudas Achim [Traditional], Peoria

"'Energy in motion' is a term to use in describing a weekend with Rabbi Jonathan Porath. His exuberance, excitement and knowledge combine to make any presentation he delivers engaging. Whether he is speaking about Biblical commentary, Russian Jewry or Jewish values and ethics, his remarks are always right on the mark for the size and age of the audience. As the Scholar-in-Residence for a weekend in Roanoke, the impact he left is still being felt. As we are planning for next year's event, we talk about finding someone with the same personality, insights, charm and scholarship as Rabbi Porath. And why not? Bring him back next year!"

--Marci Brumberg, Educational Director, Beth Israel Congregation, Roanoke, Virginia

"Thank you so much for a fabulous shiur. It was wonderful to learn from you and study the stories of Rabbi Akiva together. Your energy, passion and you were all palpable. I have heard wonderful comments and I personally gained by being able to be in the room with you. Please let me know when you are next in the States and let's see if we can do it again."

--Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn, Temple Emanuel, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

"Rabbi Porath was a force of energy for all of our priorities. He has injected our educational initiatives with excitement and substance. His topics are as diverse as they are deep. We were privileged to have him with us, and I encourage you to bring him to your congregation."

--Rabbi Jay M. Stein, Senior Rabbi, Har Zion Temple, Penn Valley, Pennsylvania

"Thank you for the wonderful Shabbat experience we had with you. Your sermon on Shabbat morning ['Nurturing Our Jewish Hearts'] and the study sessions ['The Greatest Partnership: The JDC and the Jews of America Helping the Jews of the World' and 'How To Be a Mentsh'] were enlightening, entertaining and very instructive. We received wonderful reports from members of the community who felt they learned a great deal and had the opportunity to study with a passionate Jewish teacher who cares deeply about Torah, the State of Israel and the Jewish People."

--Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, Ill.

"We had Rabbi Porath for a Shabbat and he was received incredibly well. His stories about the before and after the fall of Soviet Jewry were mesmerizing…At lunch he taught texts ['How to Be a Mentsh'], and inspired great outpourings from the attendees, who are still buzzing about it much later, some of whom said they had never told those stories to anyone before, let alone in public. It was very moving."

--Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg, Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation, Skokie, Ill.

"Throughout his stay with us as Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Porath's affable style deftly engaged our diverse demographic. He motivated great questions and left us wanting more. Here are some of the reviews: 'Rabbi Porath was amazing. So enthusiastic! So much fun to learn from.'--David; 'I was with him for all three sessions and I wish he could have stayed longer."--Maxine.

--Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, Congregation P'nai Tikva, Las Vegas

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Lay Leaders

“Rabbi Porath came to our small community in Iowa and by the time he left, our pride and sense of Judaism were as tall as the corn that surrounds us. He has the unique ability to connect with every generation in our community and is also is able to reach out to the non-Jewish community and help them better understand our history and customs in a way that leaves them wanting more. Toda Rabba!”

--Ira Fratrik, Past President, Sons of Jacob Synagogue, Waterloo, IA

"Har Zion Temple first engaged Rabbi Jonathan Porath for our month-long Scholar in Residence program in 2010. We were so impressed with his passion for Torah, teaching and sharing his wealth of world-wide experience and adventures, we invited him back in 2012. Rabbi Porath connected with many ages and audiences in our community through his spirit, energy, intellect and wit. We look forward to him returning to our kehila in the future."

--Nancy Kurtzman, President, Har Zion Temple, Penn Valley, Pa.

"I want to thank you for the warmth and concern you conveyed for every person who attended your presentations [“Coping With Life’s Transitions or From the ‘60’s and In Our 60’s]”, especially for our newly formed group of recent retirees. Your comments helped bring into focus feelings what were present, but never previously articulated."

--Dr. Harry J. Berman, Provost [retired], University of Illinois at Springfield, Past President, Temple Israel, Springfield, Illinois

“Rabbi Jonathan Porath speaks with passion and insight on his many years of experience working with Jews from the Former Soviet Union. He brings to life the promise and redemption of Soviet Jewry. Every congregation should have the opportunity to hear his presentation. It is filled with poignancy, insight and humor.”

--Sol Levy, Adult Education/LIFE Lecture Chair, B’nai Israel Congregation, Rockville, Md.

"On behalf of the Midwest Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), I want to thank Rabbi Porath for sharing his knowledge and his infectious passion of Judaism with our community. He traveled our region, visiting over 20 synagogues, speaking to groups large and small. In each of his more than 40 lectures, the feedback by all who met him was positive. His warmth and sincerity, as well as his scholarly insight, was felt by all who met him. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and study with Rabbi Porath, and look forward to bringing him back to our community in the future."

--Karen Kesner, President, Midwest Region, USCJ

"On behalf of our congregation and myself, THANK YOU!! Each of your presentations was thoughtfully provoking, very enjoyable and extremely appropriate for all of us present. We all left with a smile on our faces and a warmth in our hearts."

--Sharon Kelson, President, Congregation Agudas Israel, Newburgh, N.Y.

"Your Shabbat at Kehillat Shalom was an inspiration. We were challenged to take steps to make ourselves better Jews ['Expanding Our Jewish Horizons or How to Be More Jewish in Skokie']. You were warm, engaging and made an effort to get to know the members of our community. Yasher Koach on a great and inspiring Shabbat."

--Larry Sklar, Ritual Vice-President, Kehillat Shalom, Skokie, Ill.

"Rabbi Porath was a Scholar in Residence at Har Zion Temple [HZT] for one month this Fall. He was energizing and passionate about all things Jewish. He challenged us to learn and elevate our Jewish lives. He engaged us all, from the youngest to the oldest, with his articulate dialogue and his enthusiastic personality. It was a special month of learning, and a wonderful opportunity for our Har Zion Community."

--Dr. Ana Kolansky, President, Har Zion Temple, Philadelphia, PA

"If you Google "Joy of Learning", up should pop Rabbi Jonathan Porath! You made Torah come alive and relevant with such infectious enthusiasm. Your multimedia presentations made us laugh and cry at the same time. You can speak about sensitive topics with great insight and wisdom. One can't help but be touched by your words. The Men's Club truly appreciated your being our Scholar in Residence."

--Dr. Steve Moskowitz, President, Har Zion Temple Men's Club, Philadelphia, PA

"Rabbi Porath was incredible; what a great speaker and person!! ['How To Be a Mentsh']. We had our USY'ers and many adults, and I have to believe that all of the comments I heard were all positive. I vote to bring Rabbi Porath back as a scholar-in-residence. He was outgoing, a great listener, and kept the group involved. Rabbi Porath was a great fit for Beth Judea!!"

--Brian Gurin, VP Programming, Congregation Beth Judea

"I did want to tell you how meaningful your visit to Congregation Adath Jeshurun was this past Shavuot holiday. We had multiple opportunities in multiple settings to listen to you, to study with you, to learn from you, to engage with you, to laugh and to cry with you…Speaking for Congregation as its President, and for myself personally, please accept our deepest appreciation for making presentations that were intellectually challenging, spiritually uplifting and thoughtfully entertaining, often all at once. Masterfully done!"

--Stephen Sussman, President, Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Philadelphia

"I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed your warmth and spirit. The community enjoyed having you and I continue to hear comments about how much everyone who participated in your lectures appreciated and gained so much from you. Again, thank you for coming to Peoria and impacting our community as you did.

--Mr. and Mrs. Y.F. [longtime community lay leaders]

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Participants, Day Schools and Students of All Ages

"Thank you for joining us on campus yesterday. To say that you left the audience amazed and inspired from your talk "All of Judaism in One Hour" would be an understatement. Based on followup conversations I've already had with faculty and students, I know that you made a big impact on the crowd. We would love to have you back anytime you're in the area."

--Gil Kahn, Director, Hillel Las Vegas Jewish Student Center

"WOW!! We had Rabbi Porath speak to our educational learning series of Jewish 20's and 30's ["All of Jewish History in One Hour"] and everyone was absolutely blown away! His infectious spirit and obvious passion for Judaism kept everyone interested, engaged and laughing the entire time. He made a special effort to talk to the attendees before his lecture. Several participants commented to me afterwards that they learned a ton, and one person emailed the next day saying: "I really, really, really, really enjoyed the program. It is always good to have a refresher on who we are and were we've come from."

--Daniella Selber, Project Director, The Collaborative [Philadelphia]

"Rabbi Porath's visit to Har Zion Temple this year has given us another opportunity to study and reflect on our lives for all generations in our community. His elated spirit and animated enthusiasm illuminated the halls of Har Zion as he always greeted us by name and with a smile. How fortunate we were to have so many wonderful hours with him. We hope and pray that he will once again bring to us his personal gift of knowledge and energy, and join us to study in the future. Yasher Koach!"

--Reisel and Ellis Weinberger, Har Zion congregants

"I can't thank you enough for including Connecticut College in your tour [at the initiative of the Eastern Connecticut Jewish Federation, Jerry Fischer, Executive Director--JP]. I, along with the students, enjoyed your thoughts and insights very much. Please keep Connecticut College Hillel in the back of your mind should your travels take you through Connecticut in the future!"

--Rachel Sheriff, Hillel Advisor, Connecticut College

"Hi Rabbi!--I simply would like to tell you what a dynamic presentation you made to the North Louisiana Jewish Federation. Your presence was, I am certain, a great boost and hopefully will entice some of the younger generation to follow in their parent's footsteps in support of this great cause."

--Geraldine Zelinsky, Shreveport

"Thank you for sharing at the Women's Bible Group. You were loved by all. I personally enjoyed your passion for Judaism and for life. You have left us with blessing and expectancy, which I know are the breeding grounds for Miracles. Thank you again."

--Kate McGovern, Leader of the Christian Women’s Bible Group, Bettendorf, Iowa

"Rabbi Porath is an eighteenth generation, well-travelled American-Israeli rabbi, who is enthusiastic about teaching Torah to anyone who will listen, any time, any place. Apply this recipe at Starbucks, synagogues, people's homes, office etc., and you have an exponentially increasing following in the few weeks he was here.

What distinguishes Rabbi Porath is his ability to relate his teaching to real-world experience. I attended more than half a dozen sessions with him, and I am amazed at what I walked away with at each session."

--Larry Walowitz, Har Zion Temple, Philadelphia, PA congregant

"I wanted to thank you for speaking with our middle school students this past week ['175 Trips to the Jews of Russia']. Your words were, according to our students, inspirational and motivational. We have heard very positive feedback from the students themselves and even from a few parents… Hearing about the tremendous work you and others did to support and ultimately free the Jews of the Soviet Union really touched many of our adolescents.

Our students were also moved by your honesty in sharing with them the details about your emotions surrounding the death of your father and how important it is to dedicate time to learning how to be a mensch.

I felt that the few hours you spent in our school with our 6-8th grades were both pleasurable and meaningful and hope that some day in the not too distant future you will come back to Saligman and share of your tremendous passion and wisdom once again."

--Rabbi Shawn SimonHazani, Rav Beit HaSefer, Saligman Middle School, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania


  • "I really enjoyed your speech. I thought it was pretty interesting. I really liked the mitvah part of your speech. I had never heard of some of those mitzvahs before. I enjoyed your insight about your life experiences.--M.
  • "Now I know some neat things I can do to make me more Jewish.--Z.
  • "Thanks for coming to talk to us. I thought it was crazy that you've been to Russia 175 times! PS-I'm Russian! --E.
  • "Thanks for taking time to talk to us. I really enjoyed your stories. You're a great speaker! Thanks again,--A.
  • "Thanks for coming and talking to us. It was so fun listening to you. I hope you had a nice time in Roanoke. Please come and visit us again.--L."

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CONTACT Rabbi Porath at:   jporath1@gmail.com   or 011-972-54-4979589 (in Jerusalem)

©Arnie Draiman Productions, 2012