My name is Maurice Harris, and I live in Glenside, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philly).
Among other things, I’m a rabbi (ordained in 2003 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), writer, and adoptive parent. I’m also a baseball nerd, and because I grew up in St. Louis, I’m a bit of a Cardinals fanatic.
I also grew up spending big chunks of almost every summer with my Moroccan-Israeli relatives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
My mom is one of 12 siblings, from a Mizrahi Jewish family that lived in Casablanca until they were forced to flee the country in 1956. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 or 80 relatives in the Tel Aviv area. I love them deeply and I feel deeply connected to Israel, and at the same time I have been profoundly influenced by my experiences and friendships with Palestinians, so I’m a strong advocate of peace and reconciliation efforts.
What else… I attended Northwestern University from 1987 – 89, but the unexpected death of my father, William Harris (z’l), in 1987 was a blow I had a hard time working through, and I ended up taking a year off college. I transferred to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and graduated there in 1992 with a B.A. in English, with a concentration in Women’s Literature & Women’s Studies.
After that, I lived and worked on a kibbutz in northern Israel – Kibbutz Ein Dor – for about 5 months, and, following that, moved to San Francisco in 1993. I lived in S.F. from 1993 -98, and during that time I worked as the Administrator at the newly founded Or Shalom Jewish Community, while also teaching Hebrew school at Temple Isaiah of Contra Costa County. Then, I worked at Berkeley Hillel, and then for the Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project. In 1997 I applied and was accepted to join the rabbinical program at RRC, but I deferred for a year in order to get my life a bit more in order. I had gone $40,000 into debt on 9 credit cards financing an independent feature film called “Tell Me I’ll Be Fine,” which you’ve never heard of because it’s deeply flawed and even though I edited it I never did anything with it.
While I was making arrangements to pay off my debt, I started preparing for rabbinical school through studies in the Bay Area. During the course of that year, I met and fell in love with the person I eventually married, Melissa Crabbe. We got married in 1999, and we became parents in 2007 when we adopted our two children, who are biological siblings. They were 5 and 7 years old at the time. We’ve been a family now for over a decade and I love them all to pieces. I also have the privilege of sharing part of my time on this earth with Sparky, a pit-lab mix with brindle fur and a very affectionate & goofy nature, and I’ve become a bit obsessed with dogs in my middle age.
Since my ordination as a rabbi in 2003, I have worked as a congregational rabbi (Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Oregon), for the non-profit organization, InterfaithFamily, and now currently at Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement of Judaism. My three books (so far) are Moses: A Stranger among Us, Leviticus: You Have No Idea, and The Forgotten Sage: Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah and the Birth of Judaism as We Know It, all published by Cascade Books.
I’m a proud Democrat, a believer in religious pluralism, a supporter of strong civic and democratic institutions, and an advocate for many progressive and humanistic causes. I also love listening to my ever-expanding YouTube playlist. That’s probably enough for now… thanks for reading!
4 thoughts on “About the blogger”
Maurice: A wonderfully written recap of your amazing life to date …… TED
Amy and I just discovered your blog! What a wonderful thing- to rediscover our favorite Rabbi! I actually referred to you in a class I taught last week- regarding a lesson you taught on the meaning of a Torah passage about the Israelites, just prior to entering the Promised Land: my 10th grade World History class is studying the Reformation, and I was trying to explain how it is possible to derive different lessons from scripture- in part explaining the diversity of Protestant churches. I told them that, as ger toshav in a Jewish home, I had learned important things from even shorter and less “dramatic” moments of scripture.
Thank you, Rabbi Maurice!
With regard and affection,
Steven Crain (in Sacramento)
Oh Gosh – sorry that I missed this! I’m excited to reconnect with both of you!!!!!!!!
Very nice to have you visit my weblog too, Rabbi Maurice! Sounds like we may have some worldviews in common. Be well and Shalom.