Baruch Dayan HaEmet

Dear Chevre, 
In deep sadness, I dedicate this site

to my beloved Jerusalem chareidi rebbe

 Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, zt’l 

Reb Yosef returned his neshama to The Compassionate One
27 Elul, 5771 (September 25, 2011), the night after Slichot.

"teheye nishmato tsrurah b'tsror hachayim"

May his soul be bound in the bond of eternal life.

A major goal of Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen’s life mission was to serve as a bridge "between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews". He was successful!  Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen is author of  The Universal Jew and director/editor of study program Hazon:
From Jerusalem, Reb Yosef regularly throughout the week, for years, sent out "Letters", inspired and uplifting Torah teachings and words of wisdom from our sages. Decades ago, I’m happy to share, that even my uncle Israel (Jewish Vegetarians of North America) received Reb Yosef’s hand-written teachings, as he advised the JVNA. Reb Yosef wanted us to know that in New York, he served as the director of the Martin Steinberg Center of the American Jewish Congress - a center for Jewish artists in the performing, visual, and literary arts. In his outreach work, he developed close ties to the early Havurah, and Jewish Renewal movement, and participated in the Joys of Jewishing. (See The Aquarian Minyan essay below.) When he lived in the States, Reb Yosef was known by his English name, Jeff Oboler

Reb Yosef's heart was open and grateful, and he passionately loved "The Compassionate One", Torah, life, arts, community, ideals, truth, justice, prayer, praise, people, kindness, history, land, animals-- and teaching about it all. Reb Yosef explained to me that "'Chareidi' meant passion". (Thus I decided that I, too, the joyous, Feminist Renewal Jew, was "Chareidi"!)  Reb Yosef knew how to be a gesher, a bridge. He deeply felt feelings, and expressed his wellspring of joy (and also pain) by quoting Torah, Tanach, Talmud, etc. A favorite was: "The garden of the Compassionate One: joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music." Isaiah 51:3

Reb Yosef's gevaldt kishkahs were filled with Hashem in Four Worlds, and he mamash appreciated "holy Kishkahs". His neshamah permeated his being, not only in his written words/intellect but in mitzvot. The holy Piaseczner Rebbe, Reb Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, zt"l, Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, explained that one must totally relate to Hashem to live a full life. 

“To relate totally means that your neshamah is permeating your flesh and blood, you are aroused by ‘kedushah’ in the world, in life and in mitzvot.” 
– Reb Sholom Brodt, Yeshivah Simchat Shlomo. 

Reb Yosef believed in G*d's miracles. He was so elated when he miraculously received a (unexpected and delayed) check from NY, so he could purchase his own Bayit Vegan home. This occurred at the moment that the owner was going to sell the apartment,  and Yosef would have needed to move from the street named Sh'ar Torah, Gate of Torah. Now Reb Yosef is Home. 

Reb Yosef, May 8, 2007, wrote to me, 
"My neighborhood "Bayit Vegan" has trees and some gardens; moreover, it overlooks the beautiful Jerusalem forest and some green valleys. Bayit Vegan is located in the southwest of Jerusalem, and it is on one of the highest mountains in Jerusalem."

Personally for the last several years, in his gentle, sensitive, enthusiastic, understanding, learned and wise way, Reb Yosef, consciously, deeply supported, encouraged, nurtured and nourished me in my Torah studies, creative artistic endeavors, and my life.  By sending related Torah quotes, and with empathy and heart-felt concern, Reb Yosef was present for me. Yosef was aware of my neshamah, and wanted for me and my potential, to climb higher in my spiritual direction toward the Divine. Reb Yosef was my teacher, mentor, spiritual guide, my "brother", and I was his "spiritual child," and he called me "sister." Reb Yosef, with vision, compassion, chesed / loving kindness, and generosity of time and energy, also guided me while I was a caregiver, and when my husband, z'l, died. (It meant so much to me that Reb Yosef called me that day from Jerusalem.) It always meant a lot to me to have the contact with my teacher, a practicing Kohen, in the Holy Land. When I sent blesSings to my mentor, the response from Reb Yosef that I received was, "May the blessor be blessed."

I believe the greatest teaching that Reb Yosef taught me and I received, while I was deeply grieving my husband’s death, is that, “G*d loves you.”  I had been able to say to G*d, "I love you", but it didn't occur to me that G*d loves 'me'.  (I wrote the words on my wall where I work.) Knowing that truth, eliminated my ‘aloneness’ when facing a most difficult time in my life experience: facing life’s aloneness. (It didn't matter that at that time, I was surrounded by friends and family.) Again in this time of mourning, I need to consciously embrace this belief.  Reb Yosef, not being here any longer on this earth plane, is a major loss with great sadness for me. I will transform this to doing good in his name.

All the Klal Yisroel stories that Reb Yosef shared with us, reflected his own deep compassion and empathy for others, and his appreciation for G*d's natural beauty, and the arts. He writes amazing stories of sages, rabbis, teachers, Jew and righteous non-Jew, converts, conversos, people from all cultures and nationalities, 'lost tribes', politicians, and artists, filled with mitzvot (from stories he has heard and/or read), and friends and strangers, all whom are connected with community and G*d. My favorite sweetest, cutest story is about "Georgie", his personal talking parakeet, whom he adopted when the owner left Israel. He loved the personal story of the "Yemenite dancer". Reb Yosef infused with Torah, his stories of people he'd met. Reb Yosef would also send me UTube links of Chassidic Jews dancing the 'Mitzvah Tantz', which he loved. (I would ask him, "Where are the women?")

Google “Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen” and read the countless published articles, in addition to his own website. One story I read today is:
I believe that my friends who volunteer in the prisons will especially appreciate this story link about a tzaddik, a holy visitor to the ‘clink’. 

I hope you share your stories about Reb Yosef; I would love to receive them. (Use my personal address if you have it.) Please read below in a separate post, my personal story, "How I Met My Reb Yosef". 

My Reb Yosef wrote to me in purple, knowing purple was my favorite color, and would sign off at times with my own personal sign off message, always bringing a smile to my face, knowing he read me until the last word. Sometimes he wrote me in another colorful "garment" of his soul, green. "Dear Joy, I am happy that your garden is giving you joy."

I am adding some of his personal thoughts to me throughout my other blog sites. For Reb Yosef, I forwarded many of his “Letters”, and I love when I see others sending out excerpts.

I dedicate my mitzvot, tzedakah, and teachings to the zechut and l'ilui nishmat (merit and elevation of soul) for Reb Yosef's sweetest gentle neshamah. Tonight at Yom Kippur services, I say Kaddish for my dear beloved rebbe who was so very important to me in my life. In words, I always shared my gratitude with Reb Yosef. Reb Yosef was so very humble, and with chutzpah, I would 'instruct' him to share my letters of appreciation to him with his own rebbe, so his rebbe knew how much Reb Yosef, zt'l, was loved.

May Reb Yosef's memory be for a blessing. May his neshamah have a high and swift aliyah / elevation, ascending and expanding to a very high place awaiting him in Sh'mayim / heaven and G*d's Greatness.  May his soul find complete peaceful rest.  May he bless us all with the Shechina's beneficence --Her goodness and grace.  Reb Yosef loved to write about the Shechina. Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen loved blessing us.

Death is not the end of one's existence or relationship with loved ones, but the portal to a higher, far more spiritual, eternal reality.  May it help you, as it does for me, to know that the day of passing over is Reb Yosef’s birthday in Heaven.

May Hashem comfort us all among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.
In sympathy, 
Joy Krauthammer

Please view my post on Reb Yosef in Huff Post Religion Omer blog:

(If you don't have my personal address to submit memories, please use alternative:
 joylists2009 {at}
Better to add a Comment in this post which will be private.

~ ~ ~

Various Posts

Niggun of Reb Yosef


Dear Chevre, 
A book is now being compiled of only 30 of Yosef's teachings, to soon be published hopefully before his first yahrzeit. If you have a favorite, please let me know, and I'll advise the book editor.  Send me a COMMENT or write to me personally.
 BlesSings, Joy

"Friends of Yosef" happily announce the newly created and revised sites for 
Yosef's teachings which he had archived:

~ ~ ~

I'm grateful that after I read the following article and responded to article in their Comments, that the editor, Gary Rosenblatt, added thoughts now included in this link.  - Joy

Editor’s Note:  Jeff Oboler, Yosef Ben-Shlomo Hakohen, a longtime progressive and spiritual activist in New York, passed away on Sept. 25 2011 in Jerusalem. He was the director of the Martin Steinberg Center for Jewish artists, 1976-1985, perhaps the most important communal and resource center in New York for those who were exploring the creative and spiritual arts rooted in the Jewish experience. After the center closed, he made aliyah and distributed “Hazon,” his online spiritual teachings. Oboler once wrote, “language and the arts are not the essence of our people’s soul, they are rather the ‘garments’ of this collective soul. They are the outer expressions of our people’s soul, but they are not the soul itself. I therefore sought to help spiritually-searching Jewish artists to rediscover the inner soul of our people.” A shloshim memorial will be held at the Brotherhood Synagogue, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m., 28 Gramercy Park South.
~ ~ ~ 

Here is a link to a story about the Blessing of the Sun.   
Reb Yosef had told me he still had the poster from that event that he led in New York in 1981.
~ ~ ~ 

Understanding the Mitzvah of Hesped by Yitzchak Kasdan

"We all have the opportunity to assist the dead: by listening to their achievements as recited in the hesped".
...the mitzvah gedolah of hesped (eulogizing the deceased) serves to remind us of the existence of the n'shamah in olam habba."
"And the mitzvah is to raise one's voice to say over [the departed] things that break the heart, so that there will be much crying." Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deeah 344, 1) 

Dear Chevre, If you have access to the loving hesped given in Jerusalem in Hebrew, please forward to me. - Joy
~ ~ ~


We have lost the voice of a true and noble Jewish soul, and also the teachings that affected so many people around the world." 
- Ruth Broyde Sharon

Reb Yosef, z'l, touched so many lives, and did more than most, to enlighten our souls and deepen our connection to Torah, to G-D and to ourselves within our own Judaism and our individual Torahs.
-  Stephanie Liss

“Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, z'l, a friend and valuable advisor to me and many others, a true tzadik, a bridge between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, dedicated to Torah learning and teaching and to spreading Judaism's universal messages widely through his Hazon outreach.”

- Richard Schwartz,  President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America

"I talked to my chavurah about Yosef, z'l, and taught them his "Moshiach's Nigun".  I told them that he had been responsible for guiding me to Jewish Renewal, and also told them that he had left no heirs to say Kaddish for him.  I will do so today with my chevra."
- Sharon Alexander, Switzerland. Dir. Jospel Choir, Shir Ecstasy

"A beautiful sweet soul and being, to whom I feel connected beyond this mortal life - I'm envisioning now with the other shining souls singing the harmonies in Spirit World to hasten the time of redemption of this world."
- Miriam Stampfer

"Yosef was a real pioneer on so many levels, and such a zeesan neshamah.
May his soul continue to illuminate this world.
"I remember taping him and how close he made me feel to the "redemption".
I never had another experience like that, but having ONE, changed my life."
- Sarah Leah
(Reb Grafstein)

Sarah Leah adds: 
"In case you may have forgotten, "The Joys of Jewishing" documentary was mostly narrated by Yosef, may he rest in peace.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy, e-mail:"
(Sarah Leah hopes to transform the videos to DVD.)

(Two decades ago I purchased from “Reb Ayla”, The Jews of Jewishing videos. I didn’t have a video player, and didn’t get to watch these historical memories. If I had, I would have met “Jeff” sooner on film. I finally watched them at Aleph's Kallah two years ago. - Joy)  

"It is for the zechus of r' yosef zt"l that his friends and students are continuing to grow in yidishkeit and becoming closer to Hashem. Anything that can keep the memories and his legacy alive will surely be leilui nishmato. 
All the best, 
- Avraham Stein

"I first met Yosef in connection with books we wrote at around the same time, in the late 1990s -- his wonderful "The Universal Jew: Letters to My Progressive Father" and my "Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition," which were reviewed together in the OU's Jewish Action and, if I remember correctly, in Agudath Israel's Jewish Observer. We shared many fundamental values and ideals, so we soon became cyber-friends. Over the years, we also introduced each other to a wider circle of people who needed advice or who wished to discuss various religious issues. So I feel that I have lost an old and dear friend, even though (since I live in Brooklyn and Yosef lived in Eretz Yisrael) we never met in person. 

Yosef was an extremely passionate and dedicated Jew, whose knowledge of "hashkafah," Jewish perspectives on theological and ethical issues, was far-ranging, and whose communication skills were keen. What is more, he was a sensitive and caring person who tried to help everyone who wrote to him, no matter who they were or the nature of their religious beliefs. He was a friend to Jews and non-Jews from all walks of life and from all over the world. It is wonderful that his friends have created an archive of his essays on a wide range of subjects, which no doubt will extend that circle of friends even after his untimely passing. 

May Yosef ben Shlomo HaKohen be a "melitz yosher," a heavenly intercessor for the Jewish people and the entire world, and may his spiritual legacy live on through his teachings."
- Dovid
(Reb Dovid Sears)

On Yosef's first Yahrzeit, 27 Elul, 
his chevre in Bayit Vegan is together, and we around the world reach other and touch each other with ripples of memories.

On Yosef's second Yahrzeit, 27 Elul
Reb Yosef is remembered in the legacy of all his teachings that Chevre continue to share, and with the love and chesed that he personally shared with so many souls.  His Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem chevre again visit Yosef's kever and remember him and their great loss.  - Joy

Joy adds:
"Because 'Water is like Torah', I've made a water video dedicated to Reb Yosef.  
"Ripple Reflections"

 27 Elul-- when Yosef, zt'l, released the body that held him captive, and G*d took Yosef HOME where he has been lovingly embraced-- has been our day to hold him deeply in our hearts. 

It is for us, his chevre, to be ALL that we can be, because as Yosef taught us, The Compassionate One gave us our own individual mission to fulfill on earth.
Reb Yosef taught us to bless each other."

Daily I have blown SHOFAR for Reb Yosef.

"All I can say is that I miss him very much. He taught me most of the Torah that I know. 
The Torah and especially his torah is what bound us with such a strong connection.
May Hashem comfort us and give us strength to continue Yosef’s holy path."
Alan Silver

Richard Schwartz,  President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America in his recent book writes a dedication to Yosef Hakohen.

See more PERSONAL STORIES below.

Reb Yosef sent his book to me, The Universal Jew. I treasure it, and all his many meaningful 
and personal letters, and phone calls, which were always filled with a Kohen's blesSings.

Photo of Reb Yosef taken by Chana Leah, shared by Herschel Zvi and editd by Joy.

Please see ARCHIVES  (lower left) 
and click OLDER POSTS  (on lower right)


  1. Please keep up the postings. Despite the personal nature of THE UNIVERSAL JEW, one doesn't really have a picture of the author. This blog is painting a beautiful picture!

  2. (Re: music site: )

    This is totally awesome, Joy. What have you done? (Or, What hath G*d wrought?) Meaning, how did you do it?
    Your innate determination, dedication, and devotion to your Rebbe enabled you to master (or at least competently handle) a technology that was new to you. Thus, necessity mothered this site. Thank you!

    I never saw that photo before! Wow! He looks so distingue´! (And I never use so many exclamation points in one letter!)

    He lives on in our hearts, and his voice continues to sing, thanks to you.

    Kol haKavod!


    1. Reb Yosef's, z"l, tumblr site address appears to have changed.


Baruch Dayan HaEmet

I invite you to leave your thoughts here about
Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, zt"l.
You are invited to write about Reb Yosef, and I'll be happy to post it.
Let me know.
Shalom and in sympathy,
Joy Krauthammer