Clal Faculty: Rabbi Irwin Kula

December 1, 2013

An internationally sought–after speaker, Rabbi Irwin Kula has inspired people worldwide by using Jewish wisdom to speak to all aspects of modern life and relationships. An engaged and thoughtful trader in the global marketplace of ideas, he led a Passover Seder in Bhutan; consulted with government officials in Rwanda; helped build cultural and interfaith bridges in Qatar; and met with leaders as diverse as the Dalai Lama and Queen Noor to discuss compassionate leadership in the 21st century. Across the U.S., he works constantly with religious, business and community leaders, corporate and family foundations, and religious and philanthropic institutions to promote leadership development and institutional change.

For all this and more, Rabbi Kula received the 2008 Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award for his work "toward equality, liberty and a truly inter–religious community." Fast Company magazine and Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (PBS) both named him one of the leaders shaping the American spiritual landscape, and he has been listed in Newsweek for many years as one of America's "Most Influential Rabbis."

Rabbi Kula is in constant demand for his distinctive perspective on both spiritual and secular matters by the media. A regular on's God Talk,he's appeared frequently on NBC’s Today Show, was a repeat guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor (Fox), Frontline (PBS), and, among others. A blogger for The Huffington Post and the Washington Post's ’s "On Faith," he co-hosted the weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula. He is also the Co-founder and Executive Editor of The Wisdom Daily, which can be found at

Rabbi Kula has written several influential texts on religion and spirituality. His most recent book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life (2006), won a "Books for a Better Life" award and was named one of the "Best Spiritual Books of 2006" by Spirituality & Health. He also wrote and was featured in Time for a New God (2004), an acclaimed documentary in which he muses on religion as a "giant tool box" for personal and social transformation.

In 2003, Rabbi Kula hosted a 13-part public television special, "Simple Wisdom with Irwin Kula," that used Jewish wisdom to explore such life issues as relationships, money, work, and sex. He explored similar themes in another public television special, "The Hidden Wisdom of Our Yearnings.". A popular speaker, he has appeared in such places as the Aspen Institute, the Chautauqua Institution, the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colo. (as a judge), and was an invitee to Anna Deavere Smith’s "Bodies on the Line" Artist Residency in NYC (2010).

Rabbi Irwin Kula is the President of Clal — The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), a leadership–training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University, his B.H.L. from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA) in NY, and his M.A. in Rabbinics and Rabbinic Ordination from JTSA. An eighth–generation rabbi, he has headed congregations in St. Louis, MO; Queens, NY; and Jerusalem, Israel and co–founded the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Chicago.