4-Day Course Descriptions

AM CLASSES

Sacred Conversations

Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener
Words create worlds. Speech is the facility in which we resemble the creative power of The Holy One. Our words create, clarify and cohere worlds. In this class, we will study and practice guidance for constructive and healing communication. We'll use theory and exercises from Non-Violent Communication and Compassionate Listening. We will also plumb sources from kabbalah, hasidut, Torah and halacha which provide models and guidance for healthy communication. We will use a combination of study, reflection, quieting techniques and practice sessions to learn and begin to internalize this guidance. This can help us be more present, resilient, and heart-centered in conflict situations. I hope this class will inspire you and empower you to be that helpful agent in the conflicts we face in our lives and communities.

The Nature of Judaism

Rabbi Mike Comins
Torah was given in the wilderness of Sinai, out in the desert. Is this just a coincidence? Or can it point to the vital connection between Jewish spirituality and the natural world? Rabbi Mike Comins believes the answer is an emphatic Yes! In this class we'll enjoy a nearby nature reserve where we can study Judaism's wisdom on the special relationship between human beings and the natural world. Inspired and guided by biblical texts, Jewish mystics, Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will explore how "listening for God" and praying in wild spaces can elevate our practice and enliven the conversation with God. Expect to engage traditional mitzvot as well as alternative contemplative practice, including walking meditation, blessings, writing, chant, traditional prayer and personal, unscripted prayer. Participants might walk as much as three miles of easy-to-moderate trail each day, but most of our time will be spent in study and spiritual practice at our practice site.

The Awakening of Spiritual Identity: Journeys on the Tree of Life

Rabbi Ted Falcon
At the heart of Kabbalah are the 32 Paths of Wisdom, of which the 10 Sefirot of the Tree of Life form the foundation, providing a 10-step psychospiritual map of the Path of Creation and the Path of Spiritual Awakening. The Lightning Flash of Consciousness cycling through the Tree invites a deeper understanding of our own journey and offers specific teachings guiding us from contraction to expansion, from exclusivity to inclusivity and from the awareness of separation to the celebration of connection. Blending teaching based on kabbalistic texts with meditations and group exercises, Rabbi Ted will focus primarily on the Pillar of Identity at the center of the Tree, helping us identify more clearly where we are at any moment, how we get stuck and how we free ourselves to move toward a spiritual liberation that manifests in more compassionate actions in the world.

Cultivating Spiritual Maturity

Rabbi Shefa Gold
In the building of conscious community, each of us is directed to engage our own spiritual work of becoming whole, connecting ourselves to a larger reality, healing the source of our reactivity and opening up to blessing. We step onto the path of spiritual maturity when we stop blaming (including blaming ourselves) and instead learn to call on the Divine inner resources that have been planted within us, so we can share that flow of abundance with the world. In this class we will learn how to open to that flow and rise to meet the obstacles and resistances that show us the path of true healing towards wholeness and connection.

Jewish Ancestral Healing

Rabbi Dr. Tirzah Firestone
Our Jewish lineage has accrued much wisdom over the past 3,000 years. We've accrued many wounds too, due to generations of historical trauma. Recent scientific advances now demonstrate what many have intuited: traumatic wounds don't simply disappear over time. The difficult circumstances that our ancestors endured over generations ripple across time, causing painful patterns that show up in our lives and affect us and our children. How do we dissolve negative family influences and restore joy? We can! Together, we can open ancestral channels and enlist our avot and imahot as allies to guide and bless us in this holy work. The class is for mature participants who can attune to sacred ceremony and ritual constellation work.

She Who Tends the Fire: A Kohenet Journey

Rabbi Jill Hammer and Rav Kohenet Taya Shere
Meet the netivot, the ancient Hebrew pathways of the priestess and learn core practices of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. Create a holy hearth space through spirit journey with the Tzovah (Shrinekeeper), explore your initiation story with the Chachamah (Wise Woman), receive the support of your ancestors through the Baalat Ov (Shamaness) and practice bibliomancy, divine poetry, and chant with the Neviah (Prophetess). Through song, sacred study, visualization, ancestor work, creative exploration and experiential learning, we will engage these four firekeepers and learn their sacred stories. Through this work, we'll ignite our own inner firekeepers and discover ways to tend the spirit fire in our daily lives. People of all genders and spiritual traditions are welcome.

Thirteen Attributes of Mercy—Prayer, Mysticism and Inner Work

Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan
The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy debut in Exodus in a mythical meeting between Moshe, who is hidden in a mountain cave and the Glory of God. The Talmud opens a window to their secrets by defying grammar and claiming them to be all mercy. The sages announce them as an all-powerful prayer-tool that never comes back empty. Masters of prayer have made them central to many different parts of our liturgy. The Zohar weaves them into the mystery of the Rose and reveals them to be primordial light channels coming from the head of the Ancient of Days. Almost every kabbalist has something to share about the thirteen: they are a path of right behavior; they are the way to get to Keter—the highest of the high; they are the thirteen garments of the Shekhinah. Join in a fascinating exploration into the realm of Mercy. Thirteen Midot chants will be included. 

B'Chol Nafshecha-B'Chol M'odecha—With All Your Breath—With All You Have In You: A Master Class in Jewish Spiritual Singing

Hazzan Jack Kessler
Come join a voyage into Jewish spiritual song, the blend of voice and melody that combine in the art of Jewish prayer. Your voice and musical creativity will open up your inner sources of power and validation. We use traditional nusach, the musical language of prayer, along with Chassidic niggunim, to explore how the human voice becomes a channel for the Divine. This Master Class style course blends fun group vocal exercises and singing with individualized vocal coaching. Everyone, from advanced singers to beginners who hope to lead song and prayer with greater vocal clarity, can benefit and grow. This class is recommended for anyone looking for a deep dive into the creative realm of voice, song and prayer. Basic prayer Hebrew is helpful, most transliteration provided. Sponsored by AOP's Cantorial Program.

Organic Torah: Jewish Wisdom for Healing Our Relationships with Nature, Community and Spirit

Rabbi Natan Margalit
For 300 years, Western thought has taught us to put things before relationships, to stand apart, trying to control and manipulate the world. But now, a paradigm shift is occurring that emphasizes ecological thinking, networks of relationship and holistic systems, offering us the unique opportunity to reintegrate Jewish wisdom with the cutting edge of modern thought. In this course, we'll rediscover core Jewish ways of thinking and being that can help us heal ourselves and the world. We'll learn to shift our orientation toward dynamic relationships, getting beyond "either/or" traps and visioning hope instead of despair, moving from fragmentation and destruction towards relationship and healing. Through text study, discussion, meditation, song and movement, we'll explore how old/new principles can help us work against climate change, addiction and communal disintegration. All Hebrew texts will come with English translations, so no Hebrew is required for this course. Sponsored by the ALEPH Ordination Program. Open to everyone, this class meets for 3 hours and involves advanced preparation. Please click here for pre-Kallah readings. AOP students and applicants may take this class for AOP credit - there will be extra post-Kallah sessions and assignments, as well as an additional fee of $450. To register for the post-Kallah for-credit sessions, or if you're interested even though you're not an AOP student or applicant, please email ming@aleph.org

The Revolutionary Lights of 
Rav Kook

Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) is considered by many to be the foremost sage of the contemporary era. His revolutionary teachings are a treasure trove for anyone seeking spiritual insight and inspiration. Gershom Scholem wrote that he was the first person since Isaac Luria to open new paths in kabbalistic understanding and expression. The seeds of Jewish Renewal can be found in his extensive illuminated writings. As the first Chief Rabbi of the reborn Israel, his story is closely intertwined with the renaissance of Jewish history and spirituality. ​This course offers a deep introduction and overview into Rav Kook’s theology and its universal and personal relevance. Using his original writings (in his remarkable Hebrew) with provided translations, we will enter into a direct encounter with the mind and soul of this spiritual giant.

Balancing Solo and Communal Spiritual Practice

Rabbi Mike Moskowitz
If each of our souls is a candle of God, then how do we know what God wants our candle to be? When should the light be part of a multi-wicked torch and when should it stand alone in the darkness? Examining how the early tradition engaged in this tension provides scaffolding for us to do the same. This course is a text-based exploration of traditional sources (including skill-building for text study), incorporating rabbinic and academic approaches to Talmud study as a clarifying exercise to guide what our unique contributions could be. Translations will be provided, but prior experience with rabbinic text and Hebrew literacy will be helpful. Sponsored by the ALEPH Ordination Program. Open to everyone, this class meets for 3 hours and involves advanced preparation. Please click here for pre-Kallah readings. AOP students and applicants can take this class for AOP credit - there will be extra post-Kallah sessions and assignments, as well as an additional fee of $450. To register for the post-Kallah for-credit sessions, or if you're interested even though you're not an AOP student or applicant, please email ming@aleph.org

Davvenen' Through the Worlds: A Master Class in Making Prayer Come Alive

Rabbi Marcia Prager and Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit
Join an adventure in Jewish prayer leadership: a taste of "DLTI," the acclaimed two-year Davvenen' Leadership Training Institute – an intensive training program in the high art of Jewish prayer. Our Kallah class becomes a living laboratory for you to discover the deep structure of prayer and a range of leadership styles that tap the potential of your own personal presence. Learn to use voice, body and gesture with comfort; to let melody create mood; and to shape phrasing so that your teaching also becomes prayer. Come explore how the practice of Jewish communal prayer can activate the body, touch the heart, engage the mind and nourish spiritual growth. DLTI has trained over 500 rabbis, cantors, educators, students and lay leaders from across the world and touching all Jewish denominations. Whether you are an experienced leader or just beginning, this experience can support you in making your prayer come alive.

From Ancient Ancestors to Spirit Guides and Reincarnating Souls: Jewish Afterlife Traditions Throughout the Ages

RP Simcha Raphael
A mind-heart-and-spirit exploration of Jewish afterlife texts spanning three millennia of history. As travelers through time, we shall enter the worlds of Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Zohar and Hasidic tales. We’ll investigate diverse ways Jews have understood the enigmatic mystery of death and the world beyond. As we search for spiritual renewal of traditional teachings, we use these texts for reflection and discussion, discovering practical guidelines for responding to the human encounter with death—personally and in our families and communities.

Awakening to the Divine Presence

Rabbi Jeff Roth
Jewish contemplative practice (mindfulness/heartfulness) can be the most direct vehicle for Divine Realization—the recognition of the Divine Presence as our true nature. In this "no-experience-required" class, we will learn meditative practices that bring about an awakening in consciousness. This awakening transforms our perceptions of reality, too often characterized by a mistaken dualistic perspective. We will focus on practices that open the heart, leading to wisdom, compassion and kindness. Our work together will include silent practices, chant, didactic presentations, questions and sharing, all designed to help us direct our attention into the present moment of experience, which is the only place the Divine Presence can be experienced.

People of the Book: Expressing the Torah of Our Lives

Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder and RP Sandra Wortzel
This is a hands-on, art-making class! Participants will be guided in making their own books and filling them with poetry, prose and visual imagery. We will shine a light on the narratives of our lives through exploring spiritual practices, including chant, movement, meditation, writing and group sharing to inspire the content of our books. Come with a willingness to play and discover another dimension of your soul! No arts experience necessary. Most materials will be provided; a list of items to embellish the books will be sent to participants prior to the workshop.

Healing Our Wounded Climate: Torah, Science and Hard Choices

Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Professor Robert Socolow
Increasing numbers of scientists are warning that even achieving zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will leave a trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That can wreak havoc on, and possibly even destroying, human civilization. Various proposals are being put forward to get this excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. What should be the relationships among religion, science and public policy in addressing this crisis? What are these proposals, what are their risks and possibilities? What does Torah teach about the roots of the climate crisis: how should we behave toward the Earth, how to balance the risks of action and of inaction, how to judge among the various proposed solutions and how to engage (through study, liturgy, daily practice and advocacy) the Jewish and multi-religious communities in making these decisions?

Exodus: Mirror to Our Lives - Yetziat Mitzrayim

Rabbi David Zaslow
The Exodus is our Jewish master story. For thousands of years we have understood the Exodus as a mirror of our lives. Every year, at Passover we re-affirm that each of us experiences enslavement, liberation, revelation and entering the Promised Land. The Passover Haggadah helps us make the Exodus personal—not just a story from the past, but unfolding in the present, informing our pursuit of social justice and personal enlightenment. Not only Jews, but also Puritans, American revolutionaries, Mormons, African Americans, abolitionists and the modern civil rights movement used the Exodus saga in their own struggles for freedom. Using hasidic teachings, with deep insights from Reb Zalman and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, we can each create a template in which we overlay the various parts of the Exodus onto our lives as a powerful tool for personal liberation.

PM CLASSES

Embodying Five Levels of Soul: A Movement Journey Through Five Levels of Spiritual Consciousness

Reb Simona Aronow
The Jewish mystical tradition teaches us that our souls descend gradually from the Source to be clothed in our bodies. Over four days we will explore five distinct "Soul Levels," each of which carries a unique gift and experience of physical form. Through gentle guided movement and play, supported by music and creative process, we awaken body and soul and discover what nourishes that Soul Level uniquely for each of us, exploring its qualities in our bodies, and "embodying" its essence. This experience can also lay the foundation for healing, as we allow sparks of our souls that are undeveloped, shattered or disconnected to reconnect more fully. We feel ourselves lighter, more whole, more integrated and able to feel our vital connection with the Source. Join us as we gather, enliven and make whole again the sparks of our Souls, bringing ourselves - and perhaps all the worlds - back to balance.

Grasping the Sparks: Kabbalah, Quantum Physics and a Passion for Justice

Professor Karen Barad
Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin (a close friend of Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem) scribbled his last work while running from the Nazis. In this work, Benjamin issues an urgent plea to leftists fighting fascism: to grasp the sparks of insight that flash up in a moment of danger. He proposes a political philosophy that draws on insights from Marxist philosophy and Kabbalah, which many scholars have considered incoherent. In this class, we will use insights from quantum physics to illuminate and explain the coherence of his thought. We will also consider some of what Benjamin knew about quantum physics, as well as the remarkable resonances between quantum physics and Kabbalah. No background in any of these topics is required. The only requirements for taking this timely course are a passion for justice, intellectual curiosity, a patience for close reading of texts (in English) and an openness to learning some quantum physics.

What in the (Four) World(s) is Jewish Renewal

Rabbi Phyllis Berman
"Can you 'grok' Feminist Hasidism?" This is what my beloved Arthur (Rabbi Waskow) often answers when people ask, "What is Jewish Renewal?" Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi—"Reb Zalman" as he preferred to be known—was the most influential Jewish change-maker of his generation. His ideas and work sparked the worldwide Jewish Renewal movement. What's that? Come experience some of the practices that illustrate Reb Zalman's "chiddushim.” Learn about the innovations that inspired the movement we call Jewish Renewal: leadership open to all; understanding how the kabbalistic model of Four Worlds shows up in our lives; honoring our connection to other spiritual and religious paths; making Torah alive and meaningful; music that opens the heart and unifies our many identities; innovative explorations of Jewish prayer; LOVE as the central ingredient in our relation with all life, and; renewed ways to encounter the Breath-of-Life we call G!d. Come explore how Jewish Renewal is transforming Jewish life and yours!

The Kabbalah of Anger: On the Force that Transforms Gods and Humans into Devils and Demons

Dr. Nathaniel Berman
"Come not between the dragon and his wrath" cries Shakespeare's King Lear. The Jewish tradition has long condemned most anger as a form of idolatry. In kabbalistic myth, anger plays an even more insidious role. A facet of the Divine Self, anger continually threatens to swell dangerously, escaping all discipline—especially that of compassion. The demonic realm, including the diabolical Sama'el and Lilith, emerges from this swollen anger. These devils—often portrayed as dragons—are nothing other than transmogrifications of the enraged, dissociated Divine Self. The parallels with the effects of anger on human beings, drawn by the kabbalistic texts themselves are startling. We will look at key rabbinic and kabbalistic texts on anger and engage in exercises relating them to our experience. But we will also ask how the force that can have such catastrophic spiritual consequences can nevertheless serve to animate struggles for justice, a feature also explored in traditional texts.  

We Are the Stories We Tell

Renée Brachfeld
We are a storytelling people. Through stories we transmit heritage, share values and introduce ourselves to each other and the world. This class—for experienced tellers and novices alike—will provide a safe and supportive atmosphere in which to explore the creative process of learning and telling both traditional and personal stories. Rabbi Shefa Gold shared this: "My work with Renée sent me to a powerful breakthrough in my storytelling abilities. I was able to make the leap from merely telling a story in words to letting the story live inside me and pour out effortlessly, joyously, and easily." Using well-known (and some not so well known) Jewish folktales, you will come away with increased confidence and skills to lift a story off the written page and make it your own. (Warning: This class is a LOT of fun!)

Animals as Jewish Spiritual Teachers

Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan
In the magical world of Torah stories, animal characters speak, guide and even see angels. Their diverse powers and insights call us to mochin d’gadlut—expanded awareness of our fellow creatures and our own potentialities. In this class, we will explore stories from Torah and midrash about snakes, donkeys, ravens, sheep and more, using text study, discussion, bibliodrama, reflective writing, quiet time outdoors and more. We will discover Torah’s respect for animals in their natural setting, explore the power of animals as spiritual symbols and reflect on our own ability to interact with creation. Sponsored by the ALEPH Ordination Program. Open to everyone, this class meets for 3 hours and involves advanced preparation. Please click here for pre-Kallah readings. AOP students and applicants may take this class for AOP credit - there will be extra post-Kallah sessions and assignments, as well as an additional fee of $450. To register for the post-Kallah for-credit sessions, or if you're interested even though you're not an AOP student or applicant, please email ming@aleph.org

Embodying Niggun

Rabbi Diane Elliot
During the flowering of 18th-century Hasidism that sourced today's Jewish Renewal, the niggun, or wordless song, emerged as a powerful spiritual and healing practice. A melodic meditation that bursts from the soul, niggun, whether expressing ecstatic joy or deep longing, has the power to transform the energetic field, drawing listeners out of isolation and into a communal experience of Oneness. In this class, we'll enter the realm of embodied prayer through chanting and moving with traditional hasidic niggunim. We'll then explore the creation of our own embodied niggunim, traversing the Four Worlds of Doing, Feeling, Thinking and Being to uncover our personal songlines—wordless, moving prayers that emerge from the depths of our own beings. No special vocal or movement experience is needed; simply wear loose, comfortable layers and come with a full heart and an open mind.

Telling Our Truths: Creating Spiritually Alive Ritual Experience

Rabbi Dan Goldblatt
Reb Zalman z"l, gave us tools to invite our people to fully inhabit our rituals by speaking their deepest truths through these sacred moments. This class is designed for rabbis, cantors, rabbinic pastors and other lay leaders who have the privilege of facilitating rituals. We will journey through the lifecycle: Brit Milah/Brit Bat, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Wedding/Divorce, Funerals/Memorials and access the truth-telling tools that our Rebbe taught us. Through role playing, creative exercises and accessing our own life experiences, we will explore the use of sacred storytelling and other tools to gather the sparks and harvest the sacred in these pivotal life transitions.

The Art and Passion of Hebrew Kirtan: Opening Your Heart Through Music and Meditation

Rabbi Andrew Hahn and Shoshana Jedwab
"Hebrew Kirtan"—inspired by a form of devotional prayer developed in India— is a call-and-response participatory chant in which short, sacred phrases from the Jewish tradition are used as powerful, universal meditations. It is at once contemplative, ecstatic and fun. Join the 'Kirtan Rabbi' for an immersion in this form of sacred Hebrew chant. As we develop this powerful chanting and meditation practice, we will also discuss creating and leading chants, do easy meditation and toning exercises, stretch and share some simple Jewish "bodyfulness" exercises. You do not need to know Hebrew or be a singer to enjoy this class, which will culminate in a community-wide evening event.

Farm to Fork: How Jewish Spiritual Practice and Thought Can Reimagine Our Food System and Challenge Sacred Myths

Oran Hesterman, 
Rabbi Jacob Fine and 
Linda Jo Doctor
In this dynamic, multi-day session, we will have opportunities to explore what food justice and sustainability means in the context of Jewish faith and practice. You will walk away with a deeper knowledge of and connection to solutions that are growing a more fair, equitable food system in Western Massachusetts and across the country. We will explore our sacred connection to land and food and gain insights into how our spiritual paths can fuel efforts to transform our food system. We will meet with leaders and change-makers who are reimagining and reclaiming practices from food production to distribution and meeting consumer demand in ways that respect culture and the environment. Woven throughout will be connections between sacred and secular – how Jewish thought can inform our approach to these issues. Our learning will include area field trips to see work in action, and in our final session on Friday afternoon, we will have an opportunity for deep reflection and embodiment of our learning as we head toward Shabbat.

God and Israel Viewed Through the Lens of Tractate Sotah

Rabbi Vivie Mayer
In this class, we will study the content and structure of Mishnah Tractate Sotah. The Sotah is a woman suspected of adultery by a jealous husband, with no witness. The jealousy may be groundless or not but the jealousy itself is disruptive. Torah describes a strange ritual performed at the Mishkan to resolve the matter and restore the Sotah to her home, if she dares to go through with it. Mishnah Tractate Sotah, on face value, deals with the protocols of this ritual. But upon deeper examination, the Mishnah opens other doors. We will explore the theology of reconciliation and restoration, as seen through the eyes of the rabbis living in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and examine the ways that the Mishnah stays deeply rooted in the Torah text, while also creatively venturing into new territory. All texts will have English translations, but some Hebrew and basic prior exposure to Mishnah is recommended. Sponsored by the ALEPH Ordination Program. Open to everyone, this class meets for 3 hours and involves advanced preparation. Please click here for pre-Kallah readings. AOP students and applicants may take this class for AOP credit - there will be extra post-Kallah sessions and assignments, as well as an additional fee of $450. To register for the post-Kallah for-credit sessions, or if you're interested even though you're not an AOP student or applicant, please email ming@aleph.org

The Holy Heresy of Jacob Frank

Jay Michaelson
Jacob Frank (1726-1791) was a notorious Jewish heretic who led the largest apostasy in Jewish history, conducted sexual rituals with his followers and was regarded by Gershom Scholem as “a truly corrupt and degenerate individual.” But beware: almost everything we think we know about Jacob Frank turns out to be wrong. In fact, Frank’s elaborate theology is partly a surprisingly modern critique of Jewish theodicy (i.e. traditional religion just isn’t true) and partly a magical-materialistic Western Esotericism, complete with gnostic myths, goddess worship, sexual liberation, a quest for immortality and extremely bawdy tales of tricking rabbis and exposing religious hypocrisy. Frank’s radical sexual praxis wasn’t a big orgy; it was a form of mystical messianism that was equal parts liberationist and sexist. And while Frankism was a dead end in terms of Jewish history, his combination of radical skepticism and experiential spirituality paved the way for Hasidism and anticipates many currents in our own Jewish/post-Jewish moment. This is a rare opportunity to study the Frankist texts themselves (in translation) with someone who, for better or for worse, has spent over 10 years studying them. We will also study Reb Zalman’s text, Renewal is Not Heresy, and see whether we agree.

Mindful Play Through the Four Worlds: Mindfulness Practice Through a Jewish Lens

Rabbi Mark Novak and 
Klia Bassing
Reb Nachman of Braztlav teaches that joy is not merely incidental to one's spiritual quest, it is vital. Joy is fundamental to both learning and awakening. Integrating mindful play and music with Torah text and meditation, each of the four classes will focus on one of the Four Worlds: Assiyah, Yetzirah, Briyah and Aztilut. These worlds, revealed within Jewish mystical tradition, map directly onto the four Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness. This class is a seriously playful, participatory experience, open to both new and experienced practitioners. We intertwine group and solo practice, teaching and discussion—with ample time for reflection and shared experience. Warning: You may come away with new perspectives and insights, and have a lot of fun too!

Embodying the Tree of Life Throughout the Week: The Seven Sefirot and You

Rachael Resch
Your body is the Tree of Life. The sacred anatomy of the Universe is YOUR sacred anatomy. Come embody seven aspects of the Divine rooted in the human body and soul that correlate with the seven days of Creation: Lovingkindness, Strength, Beauty, Sustainability, Adornment, Creativity and Holy Ground. Deepen your relationship between your body and the Holy through simple movement, music, poetry and journaling. Scientific, somatic and spiritual inquiry guide this fun, interactive class. Each day includes Nia movement, Hebrew Dances of Universal Peace and meditation. Develop a simple daily practice to continue at home. This class is based on Rachael’s forthcoming book on embodying the sephirot. All ages and abilities are welcome. Healthcare CEUs are available.

Becoming Earth's Citizens: New Jewish Ethics for Sustaining the World's Blessing

Rabbi David Seidenberg
Our more-than-human world needs healing. Aldo Leopold, the zayde of deep ecology, once called on human beings to become “citizens” of the land instead of rulers, alongside other species. Reb Zalman championed “devotion to the divine Life-Spirit of Gaia.” But we can see all around us that the Jewish ethics we have now, rooted in stewardship and bal tashchit (not wasting), is not powerful enough to make people into good Earth citizens. Can our strongly human-centered tradition remake itself to put humans on a more equal plane with the rest of life? Starting from the kabbalistic principle that we must “make life stream forth to all beings,” and the Torah’s teaching that we are in a covenantal relationship with the land and the species around us, we will develop the foundation for a new, truly Jewish ethic of animal rights and Earth citizenship. Our sources will also include midrash, Maimonides, Hasidut, Rav Kook, and Martin Buber, and colleagues David Abram, Rabbis Lynn Gottlieb, Jill Hammer, Fern Feldman and others, as well as eco-spirituality and science, with video of Jane Goodall and Umass Amherst’s Lynn Margulis, as we develop a new Jewish ethic for bringing blessing to the world. Some Hebrew literacy recommended; translations will be provided.

Creating Peace and Connection Through the Arts: A Four 
Worlds Model

Rabbi Debra Smith and Analesa Berg
To be effective change agents for peace, we must strive for tikkun ha-nefesh, personal soul repair. Applying a Four-Worlds Model to the concepts of body, mind, heart and spirit, we will identify areas in need of personal healing and transformation in order to achieve greater balance in our lives. Each day of this interactive artistic adventure will be dedicated to one of the Four Worlds of spiritual energy (Assiyah, Yetzirah, Briyah and Atzilut). We'll share thoughtful text study, expressive arts inspired by Analesa's Hebrew Letter Mandalas, poetry, blessings and song. Heart-centered, facilitated conversations will help us learn to trust our inner wisdom, experience and act from a place of greater consciousness, expand creativity and personally connect with the Divine Source.

Zikaron: Memoir Writing as Transformative Spiritual Practice

Debra Zaslow
Zikaron, the act of remembering, is a profound spiritual practice in Judaism. How can we access our unique memories? Writing our experiences can be a journey of deep discovery when we we allow the sensory details of memory to reveal the undercurrents of the heart. How have your Jewish experiences—cultural, emotional and spiritual­—informed your life? How have your family experiences shaped you? What do you long to remember, and what is difficult? We’ll use guided visualization, inspirational writing prompts and in-class freewriting to explore how our experiences have made us who we are. The focus is on letting the voice of the unconscious guide us to see ourselves more clearly. We’ll then gently mix in the elements of writing—specific sensory imagery, dialogue, scene and metaphor to create pieces that allow our authentic voices to shine. You’ll go home inspired to keep writing!