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Rabbi Tzemah Yoreh, Ph.D.

A Humanistic Scholar

Rabbi Dr. Tzemah Yoreh, leader of The City Congregation, is one the intellectual leaders of Jewish humanism. He has been a student of the Bible since his earliest days, winning the Diaspora Division of the International Bible Contest in childhood. He attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he obtained his Ph.D. in biblical criticism in record time. He is currently completing a second Ph.D. in Ancient Wisdom Literature at the University of Toronto for the joy of studying ancient text.

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Rabbi Yoreh is a prolific writer and his humanist liturgy has been featured in The Forward in an article entitled “No God, No Problem”. He wrote, in Hebrew, an Atheist-Feminist Siddur. More recently he is the author of the Humanist Prayer Omnibus, which re-imagines prayer as a catalyst for human-driven change rather than communication with a deity.  As a writer he is perhaps best known for his theories on why Abraham killed Isaac, featured in The Times of Israel and thetorah.com.

Rabbi Yoreh’s Jewish Journey

Rabbi Yoreh grew up in Toronto and Jerusalem, the son of two Jewish Studies professors. He was educated at a range of schools, from secular to an elite Orthodox Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Upon graduation from this religious high school he rebelled by going to university to study biblical criticism, rather than pursue a religious path, to the great consternation of his teachers. During his doctoral studies at Hebrew University he began to doubt the foundational myths upon which he grew up and became attracted to humanism. He continued to study ancient religious texts from a critical perspective and will soon complete his second Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. Two doctorates were enough for him, however, and he decided to leave the ivory tower of the academy for the rabbinate, in part as a way to reach people more directly. He was ordained by the Israeli affiliate of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2015. Rabbi Yoreh has spent most of his adult life teaching and writing books on biblical literature and liturgy and doing Karate on the side. He joined The City Congregation as its rabbi in 2018.

Rabbi Peter Schweitzer

Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Peter H. Schweitzer became Rabbi Emeritus in July, 2018 after a long tenure as TCC’s first rabbi.  Rabbi Schweitzer is one of the most respected and admired secular rabbis in America. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Humanistic Judaism and the former president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. He is the author of The Liberated Haggadah: A Passover Celebration for Cultural, Secular, and Humanistic Jews, a frequent contributor to Moment Magazine, and a former columnist for Jewish Currents. He has been called upon to offer the perspective of an atheist rabbi for media outlets such as The New York TimesNew York magazine, The Washington Post and National Public Radio.

Rabbi Schweitzer is also recognized as a preeminent collector of Jewish Americana. In 2005, he donated his treasure trove of more than 10,000 artifacts to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

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