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The Voice of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Updated: 6 hours 29 min ago

The ALEPH Ordination Program Welcomes Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder as Incoming Rosh Hashpa’ah

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:58

It is with great delight that the ALEPH Ordination Program welcomes our colleague, Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder, who will step up as our incoming AOP Rosh Hashpa’ah this month. As Rosh Hashpa’ah, Rabbi Eva will promote spiritual vitality and spiritual discernment for the seminary, our students, VAAD and Mashpia Faculty.

Rabbi Eva is the Rabbi of the Shul of New York, an inclusive post-denominational community in New York City’s East Village. As a spiritual leader and artist, she designs transformative learning and ritual opportunities to provide seekers with joyful and creative approaches to Judaism. Drawing on her skills as an artist, musician and dancer, she enjoys integrating the expressive arts into her rabbinic, spiritual direction and chaplaincy work. 

Rabbi Eva received rabbinic ordination in the ALEPH Ordination Program and now returns to serve the seminary as Rosh Hashpa’ah. A longtime spiritual director, trained through Lev Shomea, the first training program for Jewish Spiritual Directors, Rabbi Eva’s rabbinate and communal Jewish leadership have also been informed by her experiences in the Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI)Kol Zimra (Jewish Chant Leadership Program) and a variety of chaplaincy internships. She has earned certifications in Jewish Mindfulness Meditation teaching, Wise Eldering and Jewish Yoga through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is currently completing their two-year Clergy Leadership Program. An alumna of CLAL’s trans-denominational Rabbis Without Borders, Rabbi Eva is committed to meeting seekers and congregants where they are on their path to enriching their own spiritual formation. 

She is a graduate of the Gamliel Institute, the educational arm of Kavod v’Nichum, the Jewish organization of bereavement and is active in local hevra kaddishah committees.

A California native, Rabbi Eva currently resides in Manhattan with her husband, Larry. They are the lucky parents of two adult daughters. 

In accepting this appointment, she writes: 

“I am delighted and honored to serve as the next Rosh Hashpa’ah of the ALEPH Ordination Program. As a 2016 rabbinic graduate of the AOP, I have a great appreciation for our seminary and how I was supported throughout the process to become the rabbi I am today. 

Before entering the program, one of the qualities I most appreciated about ALEPH was the value placed on each student’s continuing spiritual formation. Having received my training as a Jewish spiritual director through Lev Shomea, I learned the value of having an ongoing relationship with a spiritual companion to explore my relationship with G-d and what it means to serve in the capacity as a midwife of the soul. 

What a privilege for me to be able to nurture and support our community in deepening their sacred relationships, individually and communally. 

I look forward to serving as Rosh Hashpa’ah in a variety of capacities. I am vested in the on-going success of our Renewal seminary, which I appreciate so deeply, and am committed to paying forward to contribute to the well-being of our students and faculty. I believe in Reb Zalman’s vision, transmitted through our beloved teachers and staff. We are a unique institution and I feel responsible for doing my part in supporting our mission for the future of Renewal Judaism. 

I hold great admiration for those who have been a part of the AOP Hashpa’ah Training Program and all the mashpi’im (spiritual directors). I am excited to be a member of the teams that serve our community in this holy task. 

Throughout the years, I have often referred to myself as a ‘holy shidduch maker,’ whether by introducing partners to one another, by connecting people within communities, and in my role as a mashpi’ah – a spiritual companion for seekers who are interested in exploring their relationship with The Divine. 

My rabbinate has been informed by my experiences as a spiritual director and as a direct-ee. In these roles I have discerned and discovered my path in each step of my life’s journey. I am committed to the spiritual well-being of those I serve in my daily interactions, as well as in my role as the Rabbi of The Shul of New York in New York City. Whether individually or in a group setting, my intention is to explore connections with the Divine through contemplative, compassionate listening and creating the sacred space to enrich one’s spiritual toolbox.  

I look forward to meeting our AOP students and applicants for the Rabbinic, Cantorial and Rabbinic Pastor programs at the AOP summer Intensive Study Retreat (aka ‘Smicha Week’) in the beginning of July, as well as interacting with the dedicated teachers and guides of the AOP and Hashpa’ah programs. 

May I continue to reflect the wisdom and vision of our beloved Reb Zalman, so gracefully modeled by my predecessors Rabbi Shoshama Weiner and Rabbi Nadya Gross.  

May the Source of Blessing inspire us to work together, aligning our aspirations and commitment to bring more peace, loving kindness and holy connections into our world.”

The AOP VAAD Honors Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan Upon Her Retirement

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:57

With gratitude and profound appreciation for our colleague, the AOP VAAD announces that our beloved Founding Director of the AOP Rabbinic Pastor Program, RP Shulamit Fagan, is stepping down from her service to the VAAD and AOP in this role. She will continue on as a valued member of our Hashpa’ah Faculty, as a Spiritual Director for individual students, and in her teaching roles.

Said Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit: 

“In 2001, I sat in Reb Marcia’s kitchen in preparation for going to Elat Chayyim where I would be ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor. My memory is that Reb Marcia said: ‘Reb Zalman and I have been talking, and we think it would be a good idea to have a RP program and we would like you to direct it.’

Here we are 18 years later. The program has ordained approximately 30 rabbinic pastors who represent ALEPH, Reb Zalman z”l and Jewish renewal in diverse and exceptional ways. Many work as chaplains in hospitals and hospices. Some serve in prisons and homeless shelters. Others lead havurot, teach meditation and chanting and play other important roles in their local communities. I am proud of each of them and grateful that I have played role in their life as director of this transformative program, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend.

It was Reb Zalman’s dream that we as Jewish leaders not all fill the same capacity. He believed that it was important to have specialties, positions where people could use their particular talents in service to the Jewish people. 

In recent months the RP program has made significant progress. There are numerous potential students, and the recent virtual open house were very successful. We remain, to the best of my knowledge, the only organization giving smicha to chaplain/pastors rather than a certificate.

Those eighteen years flew by. Now I find myself ready to hand over the direction of this program to someone else. It is time for me to retire from this role. I will continue to see many of you through my presence on the Hashpa’ah faculty and the various teaching that I am blessed to do. I will be teaching this year at our AOP ‘Smicha Week’ retreat and Ruach Ha’aretz, and look forward to seeing you all there.

With gratitude for all that we have grown together, and with hope that the program will continue its progression with ease and grace, I send blessings for all of us.”

We honor our beloved RP Shulamit for every aspect of her contribution to developing and furthering the goals of our ALEPH Ordination Program. We are grateful for her continued service to our program and send her our blessings as she discovers all the new ways in which she will serve God in this next phase of her life.

ALEPH Executive Director Accepted into Elite CEO Onboarding Program

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:53

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal is proud to announce that Executive Director, SooJi Min-Maranda, has been selected for cohort three of the elite CEO Onboarding Training for leaders of Jewish nonprofits, hosted by Leading Edge.

Leading Edge is an organization focused on building a robust leadership pipeline for Jewish nonprofits. On June 11, Leading Edge proudly announced the new cohort of its “groundbreaking CEO Onboarding Program — the first of its type designed for new high-level organizational leaders in the American Jewish community. Now in its third cycle, this program provides CEOs with a supportive peer network and the opportunity to work directly with experts in the American Jewish community and beyond, to take their leadership and their organizations to the next level.”

As a seasoned nonprofit executive with fifteen years of executive management experience, SooJi Min-Maranda brings a for-profit mindset to the non-profit arena. As the Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Min-Maranda works diligently to bring spiritual vitality and passion into the lives of Jews through programs that empower leadership, build communities, and generate powerful experiences and practical resources.

Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, ALEPH Board Chair, shares that, “We are thrilled! This is an extraordinary achievement, being accepted into such an exclusive program for high-level Jewish leaders. We expect the fruits of this training to nourish us for years to come.”

As a participant in cohort three of the CEO Onboarding Program, Min-Maranda will spend fifteen months laying the groundwork for organizational success. She will work directly with expert consultants, elite leaders and thinkers in the American Jewish community, and institutions specializing in leadership development.

“Perhaps the sweetest benefits come from the rich new relationships that SooJi will be blessed to build, with leaders across the Jewish world, all of whom are doing important work in community-building, housing, education, philanthropy and activism. We offer SooJi our blessings as she embarks on this new and exciting program,” shares Rabbi Aura Ahuvia.

To learn more about the Leading Edge CEO Onboarding Program, click here. To get to know the rest of the new cohort of the CEO Onboarding Program, click here.

American Rabbi Project Podcast Featuring Rabbi Jan Salzman

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 14:12

This week, we are proud to share that our very own Rabbi Jan Salzman, who serves as the OHALAH Representative to the ALEPH Board, has been featured on the American Rabbi Project Podcast! You can listen to the episode, “Vermont: Vitamins and Juice,” in its entirety here.

“There was a time when Jan Salzman thought she’d never step foot in a synagogue again. But now Rabbi Salzman heads a congregation in the heart of Burlington’s ‘little Jerusalem.’ She found her way back through the Renewal movement (‘Judaism’s R and D department’) and a desire to give people, herself included, a deeper Jewish education.”

You can listen to the episode here.
A transcript of this episode can be found here.
An index of Jewish terms can be found here.

Announcing: “Homosociality, Male Friendship, and Women in Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities” by Rabbi Shulamit Thiede

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 14:04

Routledge, one of the world’s leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences, has recently offered Rabbi Shulamit Thiede a contract for a new book.

Much has been written about the role, control and abuse of women in Hebrew Bible. Do biblical texts demonstrate that female characters supported, resisted or were simply victimized by male ones? Do women like Ruth or Tamar, who resist or take matters into their own hands, end up supporting male Israelite aims and goals only to be shunted aside when their functions are fulfilled?

Scholars who have focused on violence against women in bible have explored the role of woman’s voice and agency and male perfidy.  But sexual violence and misuse of women is not a solitary affair in Hebrew Bible; it depends on male networks and male alliances, just as it does in our own time.

Homosociality, Male Friendship, and Women in Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities demonstrates, for the first time, the dependence of male friendship on women’s bodies for its very existence. It explains how male friendship and male intimacy is born, nourished, and sustained through the sexual use and abuse of women. 

It’s a topic, in our #MeToo age, that is both timely and important. In our recent past, we’ve seen the ways in which male friendships and intimacies create settings for sexual violence against women. Friends and “fixers” have been a feature of the explosive news stories that reveal how powerful men can ally to exploit and abuse women.

Exploring how women and women’s bodies support, engender, and sustain male friendships in Hebrew Bible can help us ask how masculine hegemony is expressed and critiqued in biblical texts. We may find that doing so can be a liberating process for men and women in our own time.

Rabbi Shulamit Thiede, Ph.D., is Dean of Faculty of the ALEPH Ordination Program and member of the AOP Academic VAAD. Rabbi Thiede teaches Hebrew Bible, Judaism and Jewish history, the Holocaust and the history of European anti-Semitism in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Charlotte where she also serves as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies. She was ordained in 2011 as a rabbi and in 2012 as a mashpi’ah ruchanit by ALEPH. Rabbi Thiede founded Temple Or Olam, the first Jewish Renewal congregation in North Carolina. Rabbi Thiede has written and published in a wide variety of settings, from popular to academic venues. Rabbi Thiede was the first Jewish member of the Kannapolis-Concord Ministerial Association, the first Jewish religious leader in Cabarrus County, and has served as the faculty advisor for UNCC’s Hillel group and the Interfaith Alliance. She blogs at

What Does it Mean to Cultivate Spiritual Maturity?

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 12:45

By Rabbi Shefa Gold

In approaching the challenge of developing a curriculum for cultivating spiritual maturity, I began by exploring the concept of Inner Sovereignty. Inner Sovereignty means taking responsibility for your inner state, no matter what!

Victor Frankl, an Austrian Neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy, experienced and witnessed the worst possible sufferings during his time in Auschwitz and Dachau. He concluded, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

He also said that, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Inner Sovereignty means taking responsibility for your triggers and reactivity. Frankl teaches, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” When we are triggered, we lose access to our most loving and wisest response. Our reactivity will always keep us from our love and from our wisdom.

And yet, every charged moment of reactivity alerts us to the necessity of T’shuvah. Any moment when we realize that we are triggered can be the moment that we are sent onto a path of healing the trauma and fear that we each carry within us.

Today, we can ask, “How can I sit back on my throne and reclaim my freedom to respond to this crazy world from the place of my most discerning wisdom and profound love?”

The path of Inner Sovereignty requires me to—once and for all—take blame off the table. When I stop blaming others, and when I stop blaming myself, so many other doors of possibility and creativity are opened to me.

The path of Inner Sovereignty requires me to make a commitment to show up in each moment and take on the challenge of becoming trustworthy.

Psalm 97 says,
ֶ֥צֶדק֝וִּמְשָׁ֗פּט ְמ֣כוֹן ִכְּסֵ֭א :ֵ֭אשׁ ְלָפָ֣ני ֵתֵּ֑ל
Tzedek Umishpat m’chon kis’ech: aish l’fanayich telech (Psalm 97: 2-3) Justice and Impeccability are the Foundations of Your throne: Fire will go before You.

When we truly inhabit our rightful throne, it becomes a place of empowerment and collaboration. And then the way forward becomes clear. The Divine fire of clarity can illuminate and clear the way forward.

One of the reasons I love being on this Jewish spiritual path is that, built into the tradition, is an understanding that I will lose my way. I will get distracted. I will forget. AND there is always the possibility of T’shuvah, of return to Wholeness, to Center, to God-consciousness, to the wider perspective. The pathway of Cultivating Spiritual Maturity starts with knowing ourselves well enough to see that we each carry particular patterns of how we get lost, distracted, forgetful or constricted. Knowing our own patterns allows us to establish pathways of T’shuvah… so that we can come back to our shining essential sanity before we do too much damage.

I hope you will join me at my SOULIFT retreat in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, August 12 – 18, 2019 to explore this together.

Spotlight on Rabbi Daniel Siegel

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:57

Rabbi Daniel Siegel’s connection to Reb Zalman formally began in 1974. After years of learning and mentoring with Reb Zalman z”l, Reb Daniel became the first person to receive smicha from Reb Zalman as a rabbi and colleague. In those early days, ALEPH had not yet been created and Reb Daniel focused on finding congregational work. Then, during 1976-77 year, Reb Daniel and family lived with Reb Zalman and set up the early systems which became the “infrastructure” of P’nai Or.

Reb Daniel next went on to work as the Hillel director in Vancouver, British Columbia and the co-founder of what is now Or Shalom. In those days, without email and Zoom, “I had been unable to participate in the growth of the projects housed mostly in Philadelphia,” recalls Reb Daniel.

Then came the ALEPH Kallah in 1995 in Fort Collins, CO and Reb Daniel reignited and deepened his connection to renewal. “I was amazed that over 700 people were there! And the quality of the class given by R’ Marcia Prager convinced me to reconnect with this movement,” recalls Reb Daniel. Says R’ Marcia, “Meeting Reb Daniel was a turning point for me as well. I recognized him immediately as a kindred spirit and fellow seeker, and thus began a friendship that has spanned decades.”

Reb Daniel’s return and recommitment to ALEPH marked a turning point in his, and our, Jewish Renewal journey. Along with our beloved Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, Rabbi Daniel’s Jewish journey has sourced the wave of Jewish creativity that is called Jewish Renewal. The renewal movement would not be the same without his creative contributions and formidable stewardship.

Together with his wife and partner, Rabbi and Eshet Hazon Hanna Tiferet, Reb Daniel co-founded Or Shalom in Vancouver, BC, a vibrant thriving renewal synagogue grounded in traditional Jewish observance, and now led by ALEPH Rabbi Hannah Dresner. Reb Daniel is also the founding director of The Integral Halachah Institute (IHI).

“Integral Halachah,” says R’ Daniel, “is way of anchoring innovation in the traditional halachic process, which means mastering and moving beyond the classical system while simultaneously including it.” Says Rabbi Sherril Gilbert, Chair of ALEPH Canada, “Our hope is that the IHI will bridge gaps between generations, between denominations, between communities, and between the affiliated and unaffiliated, as we ask and explore the meaningful questions of our time.”

Reb Daniel has answered many calls to serve renewal and ALEPH during his career. From 1997-2004 he served as ALEPH’s first Executive Director. In 2003 he received a further honor, achieving a higher level of ordination as a Dayan (Adjudicator) from Reb Zalman, along with a mandate to train future ALEPH Dayanim. Under his supervision, three ALEPH Dayanim have been trained and ordained.

With the formation of the ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP) VAAD, R’ Daniel stepped up to become the AOP Associate Dean and Chair of the AOP Rabbinic Text Department until mid 2015. The VAAD is the committee of core administrators and faculty who guide the programs.

Reb Daniel currently serves as the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH Canada, continues to consult when needed, and is busy with several writing projects and with some teaching. He lives simply on his beloved Hornby Island, British Columbia, where he has served as vice-president of the Hornby Island Residents and Ratepayers Association, as past chair of the Hornby Island Community Economic Enhancement Corporation, tends a garden, and stacks his own winter wood. He remains engaged with many rabbinic projects, including curating materials from the corpus of Reb Zalman’s written and audio-visual legacy, a compilation of Teshuvot on the topic of Ger Toshav, serving as ALEPH Dayan and advisor, teaching individual students and classes, and writing on diverse topics of current interest.

Reb Daniel writes an occasional blog:

The products of the Integral Halachah Institute and others can be found the ALEPH ReSources Catalogue:

Statement on Poway Synagogue Shooting

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:57

We in ALEPH grieve as we navigate the riptide of emotions that follow the murder and attempted murder of our sisters and brothers in Poway. We stand in solidarity with the Poway Chabad Congregation, and mourn in deep in sorrow for the injuries and loss of life perpetrated by yet another ideologically motivated murderer.

When the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, was teaching in one of his Sichos about the evil of violence and the sin of raising one’s hand to commit violence, he reminded all of us that a person’s hand was created to do acts of tzedakah (charity) and kindness, not for violence. To use the gift of having hands that were given to us for kindness in the service of violence, is a sin against both people and God.

We in ALEPH stand with fellow Jews and good people everywhere in abhorrence of the increasing eruption of virulent racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish hatred, and horrific violence directed against innocents. We abhor and reject the xenophobia that is fueling these global violent attacks. We stand with people everywhere who recommit to lives of compassion and kindness, welcoming the stranger, caring for the vulnerable, and lifting up goodness. To this end we dedicate our work.

-Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Program