Congregation Eitz Or (Tree of Light) is founded in 1989.

  • By Lee Micklin
  • Posted 11/02/1998
  • Essay 137
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In 1989, Congregation Eitz Or (Tree of Light), Seattle's Jewish Renewal congregation, is founded to further the Renewal's mission of reopening the channels of Jewish tradition to the life of the spirit.

Rabbi Vicki Hollander was the first rabbi; services were held in individuals' homes.

In the fall of 1990, the congregation held its first Rosh HaShanah service at the University Friends Center. Significant growth in the congregation followed, and the group moved its monthly Shabbat (Sabbath) services to University Friends Center.

In 1992, the congregation relocated to its permanent home in the University Unitarian Church on 35th Avenue NE. Rabbi Hollander moved to Vancouver, B.C. during the summer of 1995. She was succeeded by Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank (d. 1998).

Rabbi Wolfe-Blank died tragically in a car accident in August 1998. He was 47 years old. He was a Jewish renewal leader with a national following, "raised in the Hassidic tradition but informed by all branches of Judaism as well as Zen and Eastern traditions" (Website).

The congregation was shaken, but continued its mission. The present (2004) mission statement (in part) follows:

"Congregation Eitz Or (Tree of Light) is a community of people from diverse backgrounds who seek a deepening knowledge of Jewish practice and a heartfelt connection to Jewish spirituality.

"We strive to accomplish this through Torah, in services, holiday events, and classes; through Avodah, (service) in personal spiritual development; and through Tikkun Olam, repairing/healing the world.

"We are young and old, gay and straight, single and partnered, with and without children, Hebrew educated and Hebrew-challenged. We come to Eitz Or through many different paths, each bringing our own spark of light to the braided flame of our community.

"This year we continue our journey -- learning, sharing, and growing Jewishly in an atmosphere informed by ancient customs and modern modalities.

"Our intent is to make Jewish spirituality accessible, and to encourage each person's Jewish growth and development" (Website).


Susan Levine Interview with Araya Sol, 1998; Lori Eppstein, "Renewal Rabbi Taught at Aquarian Minyan," The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, September 4, 1998; Congregation Eitz Or (Tree of Light) Website (
Note: This essay was updated on August 15, 2004.

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