Rabbi Hanan Sills has served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain with the Marine Corps; a congregational rabbi of 5,000 people; a campus rabbi for 18 years; as a circuit riding rabbi and outreach worker for a decade in rural Mendocino County, N. California; a professor of Judaic Studies, Psychology of Religion and Comparative Religion for a total of 25 years at the Universities of Texas, Colorado, Naropa Institute, the College of the Redwoods in Mendocino, CA, and at the University of Oregon in Eugene. To facilitate his outreach and inreach work he has created Ad Olam Synagogue Without Walls, which is currently his major focus.
In addition to his career as a rabbi, cantor, and father (which he considers to be as crucial as any other professional role that he has played in his life) Hanan has a lifelong interest in music and storytelling. He has a Ph.D. in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology and Religious Thought, and has studied and worked extensively in Pastoral Psychology, Client-centered Therapy, Gestalt Work, Process-oriented Psychotherapy, Jungian Work and other modalities, with over 42 years of experience as a counselor.
Over a period of time, Hanan has also been involved in civil and human rights movements both here in the U.S. and in the former Soviet Union, as well as in environmental and antinuclear activism, an activist feminist within the men's movement. He's also been involved in various peace movements, particularly peace efforts in the Middle East. Hanan has been active in the Jewish Renewal Movement for over 36 years, and co-founded the Joys of Jewishing, a summer family retreat program which began in 1977. He has also held a longtime interest in alternative, land-based Jewish (and other) cooperative communities.
While Hanan has a deep love for his Jewish heritage and tradition, he also believes that all human being need to be conscious of the fact that this is one planet and that we are all one human race, and that if our separate traditions and faiths do not help us also to recognize the oneness of humanity, they are dated and dangerous relics of the past
The seeds of Ad-Olam were planted in the woods of Mendocino County California back in the '60s as part of an outreach program for unaffiliated Jews and others, who wanted to connect with Jewish culture, religion and tradition. His work was funded in part by the Jewish Federation of San Francisco and several other small grants, and sponsored by the N. Calif. Regional office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform). Rabbi Hanan's work was carried out in the manner of the old European itinerant circuit rabbi who traveled from village to village, home to home. Rabbi Hanan helped to plant the seeds for two major Jewish centers in Mendocino County, which eventually came into being, following his 9+ years of dedicated service.
Once again, Rabbi Hanan Sills, a grandfather of The Movement of Jewish Renewal, founder of Ad-Olam and the Joys of Jewishing, co-creator of the Jewish Artists, Musicians and Writers Network of the Bay Area (which later evolved into J.A.C.O.B.), former Hillel director, Navy and Marine Chaplain, university professor, congregational rabbi and circuit riding rabbi in the Redwoods of California, with his rabbi's bag in hand, continues to serve and bring the Spirit of Jewish Wellness into the community through his outreach work: of major public community and life cycle events, holiday services, public lectures, etc., and his inreach work: with a bevy of home centered programs (both in his home and others' in the community), Shabbat and holy day celebrations, baby namings, home dedications, classes, Jewish films, counseling, mentoring, etc.
For Rabbi Hanan his mission and that of Ad Olam is "nothing less than the mitzvah of reviving the home as the center of Jewish life, which it was for millennia." Along with this is the complementary mission to reach out to Jews and others who want to connect with and learn about Jewish spirit and traditions.
Jewish life shines through window created by Rabbi Sills
Click here for Portland Jewish Review Article