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Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm
Chancellor, Yeshiva University:

“As a beneficiary of Nishma, it behooves me to express my appreciation of Nishma’s dedicated efforts to teach Judaism for adults – and in an adult manner. I admire not only the scholarship of Rabbi Hecht that is so obvious, but also and especially the breadth of his vision and his intelligent tolerance, the result of his cultural sophistication. All this is reflected in his essays on various aspects of Torah, essays which are food for thought for both those who are within and those who are without the boundaries of Jewish observance. His insights are valuable for scholars, professionals, and laymen alike, and therefore deserve wide dissemination.”

Rabbi Michael Broyde

Chaver, Beit Din of America
Professor, Emory School of Law:

“Rabbi Hecht's writings on the purpose and philosophy of Jewish law are concise but yet valuable. Nishma serves a purpose in the Orthodox community which no other organization fills.”

Yossi Adler, LLB

Past Member, Nishma Board of Directors:

“In a World increasingly fractionalized by religious extremism, Rabbi Hecht offers us an outlook on Halacha, Jewish law, and Torah that is refreshingly unique and yet respectful of our Mesorah, Jewish Tradition. Nishma is needed now more than ever to broaden our minds and to show us the "greys" and the complexity of our wondrous Torah.”

Harley Broder

Nishma Board of Directors:

“The depth and breadth of thinking and enlightened approach provided by Rabbi Hecht, coupled with the vast resources of Nishma, have been invaluable to my personal, professional and spiritual development. The highly interactive dialogues --- classes, special forums, web casts and one-on-one discussions with the Rabbi with respect to the most relevant approaches to Jewish legal, philosophical and contemporary challenges, have consistently provided me with highly valuable frameworks and the impetus to conduct a most meaningful personal and professional life.”

David Bronfman

Immediate Past Co-President, Nishma Board of Directors:

“In my years of learning at Nishma, in particular, with Rabbi Hecht, I have been most impressed by Rabbi Hecht's consistent devotion to the presentation of various and varied opinions. More so than this, I have come to realize that this thorough approach to any issue tackled by Nishma is not simply a reflection of an academic desire to comprehensively explore a topic; rather, it stems from a unique systemic outlook unlike anything else I've encountered. Rabbi Hecht has helped me grow by constantly challenging me but, simultaneously, his personal connection to the spectrum of thought which he presents has allowed him to be understanding and compassionate while compelling me to broaden my knowledge of, and appreciation for, Jewish thought.”

Lance Davis
Executive Director, Calgary Jewish Community Council
Nishma Board of Directors:

“As the program director for Jewish Campus Services at the University of Toronto, I utilized Rabbi Hecht numerous times as a guest speaker on campus. I appreciated the dynamic manner in which he delivered his presentations and his ability to engage students during his speeches. Later, at UIA Federations Canada as the director of leadership development, I arranged for four scholars to visit London on a regular basis to study with a select group of young adults; Rabbi Hecht provided profound insights into the most basic assumptions that one makes regarding shaping one's Jewish identity and community building. The evaluations of the participants demonstrated that Rabbi Hecht pushed them to new heights. On a personal note, I have learned an incredible amount from Rabbi Hecht. Unlike most of the material that I read which provides general ethical exhortations, Rabbi Hecht and Nishma are concerned with the conceptual nature of Torah. Further to this matter, Rabbi Hecht respects the nature of halachic [Jewish legal] pluralism and presents multiple points of view that are valid, legitimate, and within the spectrum. Rabbi Hecht teaches perspectives of authorities with whom he may personally disagree, with the same respect and care as those points of view that are in line with his own”.

Michael Hart

Co-President, Nishma Board of Directors:

“Nishma has enabled me to learn Torah in a non-judgmental venue. The Nishma staff and educational materials have proven to be a stellar way of refreshing and enlarging my soul. Many times when I have been at a particularly low spiritual point, Nishma has always been there to fortify and nourish my educational requirements.”

Baruch Hoffman

Ritual Administrator, Adath Israel Congregation
and Devorah Hoffman
Director, Canadian Friends of Kids for Kids

“We have always been impressed by Rabbi Hecht’s intellectual honesty and the fact that he is not afraid to discuss issues that other rabbis often skirt. Rabbi Hecht’s desire to teach and encourage his students to make decisions for themselves, to think and to probe permeates Nishma. Nishma is contemporary, yet challenges us to find a place that does not abandon tradition or ignore modernity. Nishma never offers the illusion that there is any one answer to a question or problem; Nishma constantly reminds us that there is a full spectrum of thought with regard to any issue. Nishma is not afraid to present this spectrum, to give people the tools to navigate the spectrum and to encourage us to, eventually when we grasp the complexity of the decision, become decision makers. In short, Nishma is not afraid to make people think.”

Tamara Kaplan

private English teacher, Israel:

“Nishma is a unique organization for a number of reasons. At the base of Nishma's inquiry into Judaism, there is an intellectual honesty and an earnest attempt at objectivity that is rare amongst religious organizations. Nishma's fearless approach to studying Jewish knowledge results in a heavy dose of religious self-criticism, which in turn promotes the knowledge of self that is the basis of personal growth. The concept of "religion as opiate" is utterly refuted by the existence of Nishma, an organization which presents the Jewish religion as a tool used best by those who are willing to work.”

Dr. Michael Kigel

Television Producer, A Far Shed Eye Productions:

“In my personal journey into the world of Torah, I have been assailed by two great forces, working in tandem, and, it seems, co-operating to undermine the sureness of my steps. From one side, the force of unthinking dogmatism has proffered the path leading to the comfort and certainty of a prison cell suspended over an abyss. From the other side, the force of despair, leading out of the same prison cell in many directions like brittle rope-bridges over the same abyss. It was from these two basic dream-terrains, this dogmatism and this despair, that I have been saved, again and again, by the plain realism that Rabbi Hecht embodies and teaches, and upon which Nishma is built. Not to be allowed to embrace dogmatism, not to be allowed to despair—this twofold commandment at the heart of Rabbi Hecht’s teaching has given, and continues to give, my feet the ability to continue walking. My reliance upon Rabbi Hecht’s participation in my various television projects, and on his ready advice, is derivative. Perhaps others have also had this experience, that when one grasps this essence of Nishma, the rest is commentary.”

Howard Pasternack

Past Member, Nishma Board of Directors:

“How many times have we heard people in the Jewish world, even prominent people, talk about the halacha -- as though there was only one? In the 21st century, this era of unprecedented global communication affords us an unparalleled opportunity to become aware of diverse opinions and analyses on every imaginable issue. Nishma's message of diversity stands against this trend, a trend which this generation has seen erode the scholarly traditions of Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism; a trend that has led to radicalism and ultimately violence. Just as violence has been called a "failure of the imagination", one may call the immersion in diverse analyses a "triumph of the imagination". Nishma recognizes and fosters the essential role of individual insight, the ability of every unique person to bring to a debate an observation that others had missed, or a perspective based on that person's singular experience. It is only through this recognition that it becomes possible for a community to interact and grow. It is for this reason that I believe Nishma stands on the front lines against one of the key social challenges of this generation”.

Jeanine Pavkovic

SFO, Philosophy/Theology Teacher, John Cabot Catholic Secondary School:

“Rabbi Hecht has been a friend, teacher and mentor to the students of John Cabot Catholic Secondary School. He has paved the way for true academic dialogue between Jews and Catholics! He not only stayed longer than expected on the day of his scheduled lecture, but he also availed himself through the phone and electronic mail, after his lecture, for Cabot's philosophy students. His tremendous knowledge makes his lectures thought provoking and stimulating, and his charismatic nature makes him approachable. Students flocked to him after his lecture was delivered. He allowed himself to be hemmed in by the scores of teens who wanted to ask questions. Rabbi Hecht left our students engaged in Philosophical dialogue! May G-D continue to bless his ministry!"

The following are comments offered by students of Ms. Pavkovic who have attended Rabbi Hecht’s lectures (the children preferred to remain anonymous):

“Thank you for giving us a greater understanding of scripture from the Jewish point of view. I believe it is something all theologians need to be exposed to”

“A rabbi teaching the Christian youth may be questionable to others, but a blessing nonetheless. Thank you for passing on a small piece of Jewish thought to us. Shalom”

“Thank you so much for visiting. The fault of the education system is lack of exposure to other religions and cultures. Because of people like you stereotypes and judgements are slowly being removed from generations to come. Even though we have many differences between our religions it was clear to us that your heart is full of generosity and kindness”

“It was an honour hearing from you. Your intellect is needed in a school setting like this. We need more rabbis like you if world peace is the goal.”

Avrum Rosensweig

Founding Director, Ve’ahavta - The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee:

“Nishma, more specifically Rabbi Hecht, was my introduction to a form of Orthodox Judaism that reflected the concept of self-growth and the possibility of diverse points of view within a Jewish context. This realization was inviting and refreshing, but more so played a major role in my ability to understand myself, recognize my passions and ultimately pursue them in the guise of Ve'ahavta. I am, and will always be, appreciative of Nishma and Rabbi Hecht for introducing me, to myself, and giving me faith and hope in a mode of Orthodox Judaism that is healthy and beautiful.”

Sharon Shapiro-Lacks
Founder, Yad HaChazakah - The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center:

“NISHMA perpetuates the vibrancy and relevance of Talmudic and halachic dialogue within the observant Jewish community. It challenges our premises, dismantles our assumptions and demands that we never feel comfortable with the absolute correctness of our conclusions. It leaves us in the dynamic state of existential anxiety that Rav Joseph Baer Soloveitchik lauded: a state that forces us to grapple with conflicting truths that, if done successfully, can lead to integrity of thought, action, and human interaction.”

Mitchel Shore

Co-President, Nishma Board of Directors:

“Nishma represents to me, one of the finest incarnations for the sharing of issues and ideas in the practical, everyday secular world and referencing them with the millennia of Jewish scholarly thought. I find that while most organizations are self-absorbed and tend to cocoon themselves with insular and sometimes self-serving philosophies, Nishma is a rare breath of fresh air, an organization that teaches to understand, shares to belong and strives to connect with what is eternal, transcendent and part of the greater inter-dynamic of a troubled, yet noble world.”

Chashi Skobac

Canadian artist:

“Nishma encourages investigation of all topics using Jewish sources as a guide to deeper understanding. Even topics which are often considered controversial are dealt with in a straightforward and 'no holds barred' manner by Nishma. I have personally experienced this in the topic of 'Women and Judaism.' When one wants to get past 'the party line' and politically correct pronouncements, Nishma is a place to turn.”

© 2009 NISHMA