Rabbi Andrew M. Hahn, Ph.D.
Known as the “Kirtan Rabbi,” Andrew Hahn, Ph.D., brings together two
ancient traditions to form a new, spiritual voice through music. Blending
sacred Indian chants with Hebrew texts, he creates a unique, mystical
experience touching religious seekers everywhere.
Hahn, an ordained Reform Rabbi from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion who also holds a doctorate in Jewish philosophy from
the (Conservative) Jewish Theological Seminary, is no stranger to the power
of music. A classically trained guitarist at the Carnegie Mellon School of
Music, he sang in opera as a child. Looking for a way to deepen his own
spirituality and reach out to people feeling disconnected, Rabbi Hahn,
inspired by the great theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s words,
“first we sing, then we believe,” developed a new Jewish approach to
devotional practice based on an Eastern method – Hebrew Kirtan. Breaking
down the barrier between leader and listener, kirtan, a form of call
and response singing, heightens participation, communal feeling and
connection to the Divine. “God is discovered in what we do together,
particularly when we mine the inner landscape musically,” says Hahn.
Appearing around the country, Hahn’s distinctive practice has taken hold ─
with programs at such places as Smith College (Northampton, MA), Franklin
and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA), The Woodstock Jewish Congregation
(Woodstock, NY), Colorado Limmud (Keystone, CO), Congregation Beth Shalom
(Pittsburgh, PA), the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Baltimore (Baltimore,
MD), and the Integral Yoga Institute (New York, NY), where he leads a
monthly program. In June 2008, he recorded a live CD at B’nai Jeshurun in
New York City due to be released in the fall.
“Many Jews are drawn to Eastern practices because they don’t feel a sense of
passion in their own tradition. Kirtan provides a way for them to
link a deep spirituality to a personal and communal history, but in a new
way,” says Hahn.
In addition to facilitating Kirtan, Rabbi Hahn is a resident scholar
at CLAL ─ The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a
leadership training institute, think tank and resource center ─ and serves
on the Rabbinic Advisory Board for Kehilat Romemu, an independent,
progressive congregation in Manhattan. He teaches Jewish text classes at
various adult venues and rabbinical schools around the country. He is also a
martial arts practitioner, specializing in a form of tai chi which he imbues
with Jewish content.