Rockin’ Rabbi Takes NYC Pulpit
Jazz fixture Greg Wall to head Lower East Side synagogue
We’re not sure how we missed this New York Times blog post from Monday, which opens thusly: “At first glance, the term ‘jazz rabbi’ might seem incongruous.” Now, to those of us who eat, sleep, and breathe Jewish miscellanea, it actually kind of doesn’t. But still, we were curious to discover that avant-garde jazz musician Greg Wall has taken the pulpit as the rabbi of Sixth Street Community Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The position combines his two relatively un-lucrative passions; “I still can’t quite make a living as a rabbi, though, so I need to have something to fall back on—like being a jazz musician,” he said to his new congregation at his inaugural event, a concert on Halloween featuring musicians from all over the world playing in a variety of eclectic styles.
Like John Coltrane, whose inclusion of a Jewish prayer in the liner notes to the album A Love Supreme inspired Wall, the rabbi, who was ordained in 2006, is thrilled to have found a way to express the religious feeling that he found through music: “If you start talking about spirituality during a show, then you’re seen as a fanatic, but if you’re a rabbi, they cut you some slack.”