Rabbi Steven Blane has held several traditional pulpits as Rabbi and as Cantor. His most recent congregation was in New Milford, NJ. Echoing the experience of his mentor Rabbi Joseph Gelberman (of Blessed Memory), he heard a voice in his heart. "I was sad. Yes, I was doing well- I was serving a lovely community. I was making a good salary but I was not growing- my vision was much larger than I could realize in the Conservative or any particular movement. And so I left the traditional pulpit to journey on my own."
Rabbi Blane founded Congregation Sim Shalom an Online Jewish Universalist Community that he leads in worship every Friday night at 7PM. The Sim Shalom community welcomes everyone to participate in all rituals and has online members all over the world who join in joyful, uplifting worship. Jewish Universalism is a new Jewish movement, envisioned and founded by Rabbi Blane. Among its core principals are the embrace of Interfaith relationships and the welcoming of anyone to participate in Jewish worship and rituals without restriction.
He is also the founder and Dean of JSLI- The Jewish Spiritual Leader's Institute, an online Rabbinical School.
Rabbi Blane believes there is a great need to train and prepare liberal rabbis to meet the needs of millions of unaffiliated Jews and Interfaith couples and their families. The modern liberal Jewish paradigm is one in which traditional Jewish observance and regular synagogue attendance or synagogue membership is simply no longer a practical reality. Still, respect for life-cycles and Jewish Holiday observance is still of deep significance. It is up to the modern liberal rabbi to find the right point of entry and meet the needs of more than half of the world's Jewish and Interfaith community.
Rabbi Blane began his journey as a child who attended Orthodox Yeshivah of Hudson County grammar school and Lubavitch staffed Rogosin Yeshiva High School. He studied to become a Cantor with his mentor Hazzan Noah Schall. He then began his professional Cantorial career leading High Holiday services at Conservative Temples Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1991 and Shaarey Zedek in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1992. He served for four years as Cantor (1994-98) at Conservative First Hebrew Congregation in Peekskill, New York, and one year (1996) as Cantor at Reform Temple Beth Haverim in Mahwah, N.J. During his final year at First Hebrew Congregation, he served as Spiritual Leader.
Blane served as Cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Bergenfield, N.J. from 1999-2006. From 2001-2009, he was a member of the Cantor's Assembly- a collection of the finest Hazzanim in the world. He served as Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah-New Milford Jewish Center from 2006-2009. Blane was ordained as Rabbi in June 2001 at Rabbinical Seminary International after completing a course of study with Rabbi Joseph Gelberman in New York City.
Rooted in Jewish tradition but comfortable among the most progressive movements, he has led services in Lubavitch, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform communities.
As Rabbi and Cantor, Blane’s commitment is to nurture, heal and bring joy to the community. His vision is one of universal brotherhood and inclusiveness and his mantra is "No is not in G-d's vocabulary."
Steven Blane majored in Voice and obtained a B.A. in Music Education from Jersey City University. Following college, he performed as a singer/actor off and on Broadway, most notably, in the show "STRIDER" in 1978-79. He was a film extra (look for him in "The Chosen" but don't blink) and wrote an Off-Off Broadway Musical, which he produced in 1981. In 1986, he co-founded Blane & DeRosa Productions, an audiobook and children's audio production company. To date, they have produced thousands of audio recordings for major publishers.
He is also a Singer-Songwriter and performs frequently. He plays guitar, ukelele and piano.
*Resigned in 2009 when he was offered the option of resignation or expulsion by the Cantor’s Assembly when he began officiating at Interfaith Weddings.