“Reb” Jason van Leeuwen
Shalom, Chaverim! It’s a great honor to begin my 10th year with this wonderful community of the Jewish spirit. I can’t wait to get to know you better, but maybe I should help you get to know me better first:
I am a rabbi, cantor, chaplain, vocalist, composer, producer, actor, director and activist, having nurtured Jewish communities from coast to coast. Born in Syracuse NY to a Dutch-Jewish child refugee and a descendant of an American president, I sat at the feet of Jewish teachers and activist grandparents – learning Torah, Zionism, and quite a few Israeli Dance steps at Camp Ramah, all while growing up in a blended family with Irish/Lebanese Catholics.
Too many years ago to count, I set out for sunny California, gaining my B.A. at Lee College of the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) in Los Angeles. After receiving a B.L. at the UJ, I was ordained and received an M.A. in Hebrew Letters at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary. This past June, I received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from that institution after a quarter century of rabbnic service.
Over my career, I helped found AIDS Interfaith Long Island, an emergency homeless shelter program, a Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles (where I also served as its first President), and numerous youth oriented enrichment programs. I continue part time work as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor. My first original studio release, “Shabbat Rocks” (2004), met with worldwide acclaim, with 4 of its tracks reaching the Top 5 in the World Music category as far away as Australia. I also have a passion for writing edgy Purim Spiels, (such as “Rocky Horror Purim Spiel,” and “Purim Stardust – David Bowie Megillah”), used by synagogues the world over. This year I will be dropping my next album, “Shabbat Awakens.”
I believe that Jewish spiritual communities’ core area of concern should be the spiritual well being of our fellow Jew and fellow creature. Everything we do, from creative worship to adult and child education to community activism, must have this as its North Star. To this end, you can expect to see some ground-breaking innovations from us coming your way in 5782.
I have two children, Avital and Yeshaia, whom I greatly admire and who are a heckuva lot smarter than I’ll ever be (yeh, my genius kids, where have we heard that before, but this time it’s true – I swear it!). I only say this because I owe them money.
Rabbi Flom and his family joined Congregation Beth Meier as members in 2012. He became the rabbi of the congregation the following year. From 2017-2021, he served as spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Hayim in Association with Congregation Beth Meier.
While in rabbinical school, he served as Director of Hillel at UC Riverside. He has been active in interfaith activities in all his pulpit assignments. Rabbi Flom presently serves on a Rabbinical Assembly beit din (religious court), overseeing religious divorces and conversions to Judaism. He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly, serving as past President and Treasurer of its Pacific Southwest Region.
He is an avid listener of blues, jazz, and classical music. Rabbi Flom has taken up photography in the past couple years, specializing in wild and garden flowers. They don’t complain if they don’t like the picture.
Rabbi Flom holds a MA in Religious Studies and Rabbinic Ordination (Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, University of Judaism – now American Jewish university), JD (University of Pittsburgh School of Law) and AB (University of Chicago). He was recently awarded a DD (HC) by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University.