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!