A Short Biography

“I’m not anti-tradition. I’ll use anything that will help me get off. I’ve got a great deal invested in the materials of civilization, like language and vocabulary – booba, zeida, cholent, tallis -they’re deeply embedded in the core of my brain, attached to my thalamus, not to the cortex. It would be foolish to deny that they’re not part of my make-up. But, if someone says that I must believe in the God who was active at the time of Moses, or Yohannan ben Zakai, or the Baal Shem Tov, my answer is no.”

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

On January 9, 2022, Carl Viniar was ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor through the Aleph Ordination Program.

After his trips through folkshul in the Bronx, the wild and crazy 60’s, the anti-Viet Nam war movement and a year in Israel, Carl worked for Hillel in Philadelphia, and intended to go to Rabbinical school in 1973. As part of the Rabbinic studies, he needed to do a secular graduate degree, so he went to law school, ended up practicing law for over 40 years, and became one of the pioneer transformative divorce mediators in the  Philadelphia/South Jersey area.

He was a founding member and a member of the Board ofTrustees of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Carl taught mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution at Rutgers Law School and Business School for more than 20 years. He had trained hundreds of people to be mediators, and successfully worked with over 1000 couples.

Then he heard about the Ordination Program of Aleph, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Jewish Renewal is a transdenominational movement which combines the values of egalitarianism, the joy of Hasidism, the spirit of the havurah movement and the wisdom of tradition. He read on the Aleph website that there was a Rabbinic Pastor path to Ordination, that was for “prospective clergy drawn to spiritual service primarily through pastoral care, ritual craft and holy accompaniment through life changes….for those who have a sincere willingness to serve the Jewish people in spiritual leadership.” He entered the program, fulfilling a 40 year old intention.

During the course of his studies he worked in senior facilities, did pastoral counseling, taught and led programs, led services and rituals,  and authored a Guide for Pre-marital Counseling that focuses on working with older adults. The road Reb Carl took to get here has been a winding one, but the idea of serving his community in this way, gives a joyful purpose, and an exciting future. After over 40 years of helping people get through divorces and seeing why marriages fail, Reb Carl knows how to help people start and keep their relationships going strong.

Reb Carl’s services include teaching classes, storytelling, leading Torah study, creating and leading rituals, pre-marital and marital pastoral counseling, and mediation. Carl brings a spiritual component as well as his mediation background to all aspects of his work.