Rabbi Elliot Kukla was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 2006 and trained in chaplaincy at UCSF Medical Center in 2007. Elliot’s articles and ideas on gender diversity, chronic illness, and healing are published in numerous magazines and anthologized widely including in the New York Times, and his work as a rabbi has been featured nationally, including in the Washington Post and National Geographic. His liturgy that marks loss and transition appear in numerous prayer books and are used in synagogues across the country. He has served as adjunct faculty in pastoral care at Starr King School for the Ministry (a part of the Graduate Theological Seminary of UC Berkeley).
Before joining the rabbinic team at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, Rabbi Kukla organized for economic justice with Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice (CLUE), and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. He has a BA in Religion and Fine Art from the University of Toronto and before attending rabbinical school he worked as an arts journalist in Toronto. He is a painter and enjoys integrating visual art into his work with clients. Elliot lives in Oakland with his wife, son, and a menagerie of animals.
July 14th, 2020 | Season 1 | 49 mins 45 secs
In our conversation with Rabbi Elliot Kukla, we discuss his essay for Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations about the profound and unexpected ways in which trauma can affect a person's health and overall spiritual wellbeing. In the piece and this interview, he shares some of what he's learned about life by being chronically ill. We discuss his heightened appreciation for the interdependence of people, and what that means for the responsibilities of societies and communities to care for their members, even the most vulnerable. We also talk with Rabbi Kukla about his recent New York Times piece, "My Life Is More 'Disposable' During This Pandemic", and about the COVID-19 pandemic more generally; about the newly resurgent racial justice movement; and about the challenge parents face in maintaining hope for our children and the world they're inheriting in this deeply unsettling time.