Rabbi Ziona Zelazo – usually referred to as Rabbi Ziona, is a member of the New Jersey Board of Rabbis, and was ordained at The Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) in New York, a pluralistic seminary that trains rabbis and cantors. She is a trans-denominational rabbi who brings a wide range of experiences, skills and perspectives to her rabbinate and counseling practice. She is committed to those she serves and handles each individual's life events with sensitivity and wisdom.
Rabbi Ziona is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and was born and raised in Haifa, Israel. She served in The Israeli Defense Force as an Electronic Intelligence Sergeant during the War of Attrition, and studied Biblical archaeology and ancient languages in Tel Aviv University under Professors David Ussishkin, Nadav Na’aman and Anson Rainy (just to name a few).
About Rabbi Ziona
Rabbi Ziona completed her academic education in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught as an adjunct professor of cultural anthropology at Montclair State University, New Jersey. Her research focuses on the acculturation process of five Ethiopian families who immigrated to Israel with Operation Moses. As an anthropologist, she loves to travel and saw many corners of the big world. She participated in expeditions to Egypt, Jordan, Eastern Turkey, Kenya and Tanzania. She also traveled to the Far East -- Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Korea.
Rabbi Ziona finds her rabbinic role in different life possibilities within the wider community. She officiates in various life cycle rituals, conducting services, providing Jewish education to adults, ministering pastoral care in home and hospital setting to all age groups. Known for her compassionate mentoring and interactive teaching style, Rabbi Ziona is available to be the guest rabbi for teaching in different geographical areas and also for private or group counseling sessions.
Pastoral care is an important aspect of Rabbi Ziona’s rabbinate. She did her formal Clinical Pastoral Education at Valley Hospital and Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey, where she works today as an associate chaplain. Her training also includes programs in spiritual guidance, bereavement support and pre-marital couples counseling. Rabbi Ziona is also a certified Disaster Chaplain in Bergen County and A certified Disaster Spiritual Care Provider for the American Red Cross.
Rabbi Ziona loves to explore spirituality of many cultures and as a meditator she has been teaching different kinds of meditations in many settings, interfaith and Jewish. She also leads healing services and conducts alternative/meditative Shabbat morning services. She uses meditations, liturgical and poetic teaching, and facilitates spiritual centering with song, chant and musical instruments. Her goal is to meet people where they are and lead them into hope, healing, and meaning.
Rabbi Ziona believes in developing positive relationships between people of all faiths, including her dream of Religious Pluralism. Therefore, she interacts with clergy of all faiths and serves on the bio-ethic committees of Valley Hospital and St. Joseph’s-Wayne Hospital for the last 20 years. She is a strong advocate for the Women of the Wall in Israel and wrote her essay in the journal for "Rabbis for Women of the Wall", along side her lectures on the topic.
For the latest interview for the Jewish Standard about the war in Israel (Summer 2014) read here.
Rabbi Ziona is married to Ron Zelazo, and they are proud parents of 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren.