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For the week ending 8 March 2014 / 6 Adar II 5774

The Skiing Rabbi

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Raphael Leban

Age 44
University of Virginia: BA in English Language and Literature
Managing Director in Denver, CO

“I was born and raised in Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Language and Literature. I first visited Ohr Somayach two days before Rosh Hashana in the fall of 1995. I was in the midst of traveling around the world and had been out of the United States for two years. I spent many months working in Europe, traveled through Greece and Turkey, and eventually made my way through Syria to Jordan. I took a bus across the Jordan River over the Allenby Bridge and made my way to the Arab Quarter of the Old City. Within hours of entering Israel I found myself at the Kotel. I was directed to Ohr Somayach and heard three classes that day, from Rabbis Schiller, Tatz and Gottlieb, all talking about teshuva as Rosh Hashana was approaching.

“I was sufficiently intrigued and inspired to stick around and those first few days stretched to seven years, during which time I progressed from a less than rudimentary knowledge of the aleph-beit to completing the Ohr Lagolah Program, receiving Semicha in the process. Today I live in Denver, Colorado where I give a Daf Yomi shiur and work as the Managing Director of the Jewish Experience, a busy local outreach organization where I try to pass on everything that I was blessed to receive from my beloved mentors and Rabbeim at Ohr Somayach. Although I am allegedly referred to as the world’s extreme skiing Rabbi, I prefer the quiet life with my wife Ita and our three children.”

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