Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz is truly a renaissance man. Whether teaching, playing music, writing, farming, officiating as a rabbi, practicing law or working with his draft horses, he has consistently demonstrated how such diverse career and avocational choices can be seamlessly and meaningfully integrated. He brings passion and a deep sense of conviction (not to mention a wicked sense of humor) to everything he does.
A lifelong Jewish educator, he currently serves as Executive Director of Project Ya’aleh V’Yavo, Inc. where he designs cutting edge environmental programs for Jewish youth. The programs, which take place in both the classroom as well as on his farm in southern Vermont, combine Torah and environmental sensibilities, highlighting personal empowerment, sustainability, optimism and fun. It is not unusual to find him driving his truck to a classroom presentation with a hive of live honeybees or some heirloom chickens in the passenger seat!
He is much sought after as a public speaker and he has lectured and conducted workshops about his unique programs and insights for such diverse groups as CAJE (The Conference for Alternatives in Jewish Education), COEJL (Coalition for the Environment and Jewish Living), Canfei Nesharim, B’nai Tzedek, NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association), TEVA, ADAMA, VMSMA (Vermont Maple Syrup Makers Association) and others.
He has published more than 250 articles on topics ranging from farming to entertainment law. His syndicated column “Legal Licks” ran in The Music Paper for eleven years and his humorous farming columns appear in an Amish on-line newsletter under his by-line “Ruminations from Readsboro”. His most recent article “Water Conservation and Halacha – An Unorthodox Approach” was published in the Compendium of Halacha and the Environment.
An accomplished guitarist in his own right, he is equally comfortable hanging out or jamming with musicians such as The Grateful Dead, The Band, Bob Dylan, and Hot Tuna as he is performing traditional and contemporary Jewish music. He has shared top billing with such artists as R’ Shlomo Carlebach, Piamenta, Chava Alberstein, The Diaspora Yeshiva Band, Megama and countless others.
He divides his time between his home in Western Mass and Sweet Whisper Farms, his maple farm in Readsboro, VT, which was featured in the recent book “Jewish Fathers – A Legacy of Love” as “Vermont’s only shomer shabbos, organic, horse-powered maple farm” as well as in Jewish communities throughout the country as a scholar/artist in residence. He has served as the adjunct Rabbi of Congregation Knesseth Israel of Ellington, CT, one of the last rural orthodox synagogues serving the region’s Jewish farmers.