Hashpa’ah: Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors
Hashpa’ah (Being in the Divine Flow or consciousness of God’s Presence)
Hashpa’ah (Being in the Divine Flow or consciousness of God’s Presence) is a traditional Jewish term for the relationship with a Jewish spiritual director/companion or mashpia/h (in Hebrew). The Mashpia/h offers guidance and support on matters of faith and practice, relationship with the Divine or Source and meaning, calling and purpose of life Itself.
The ALEPH Hashpa’ah program was designed in the early 2000s by Rabbi Shohama Wiener and colleagues, with the guidance and blessing of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the visionary founder of Jewish Renewal. The program continued to evolve for Cohorts 3 through 6 (2014-2023) under the leadership of Rabbi Nadya Gross, Director, Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Associate Director, Reb Sandra Wortzel, Assistant Faculty, and other training faculty.
Cohort 7 launched in January 2024, under the guidance of Mashpia Rabbi Shawn Zevit, HDD, with the support of Assistant Director Mashpia Rabbi David Curiel, and faculty Mashpiah Hannah Salander, Mashpiah Pastor Reb Sandra Wortzel, Mashpiah Rabbi Nadya Gross, the Rosh/Head of Hashpaah Mashpiah Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder and others.
Cohort 8 will start taking applications in 2026 for a January 2027 start date.
This program, unique in Jewish history, offers a three-year concentration in Jewish Studies as it informs Spiritual Direction. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate as Mashpia/Spiritual Director. Clergy may also receive Ordination (smicha) as Mashpia Ruchani. The Program is open to graduates and students of all Jewish seminaries approved by OHALAH: Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal and candidates, not on a clergy path, whose background makes them eligible for this work.
Hashpa’ah is multi-disciplinary, integrating diverse spiritual guidance approaches and skills from classic and contemporary schools of training and practice, while emphasizing the legacy of hashpa’ah that can be found in the literature and praxis of Hasidism and the Jewish mystical tradition.
Cohort 6 Graduation Ceremony
January 7, 2023
Cohort 5 Graduation Ceremony
January 11, 2020
The curriculum integrates the sacred arts of spiritual and pastoral counseling; personal, intercessory and communal prayer and ritual; the art of the maggid (storyteller); spiritual approaches to Torah and mitzvot; personal and communal ethical development/mussar, hashpa’ah, gender, multiracial, multifaith identities, spiritual eldering and other areas of learning.
The requirements of the training program include five Intensives, video-conference coursework spread over the program’s duration, five semesters of supervised practice with individuals and groups, and supplemental learning in related areas. Participants train individually and in group settings with mashpi’otim (gender expansive plural form) who support their spiritual growth in relationship to G~d and sacred service, and model for them diverse modalities of spiritual direction.
Faculty members will present and demonstrate various models of spiritual guidance as they engage the participants in prayer, meditation, and probing dialogues, intended to explore new possibilities of receiving guidance in the presence of the Divine.
(1) Five Intensives and Five Semesters Hashpa’ah Supervision
- Two Winter Intensives in Denver, Colorado (In 2024: Tuesday afternoon Jan 2, 2024, through Friday afternoon Jan 5 before the OHALAH conference. January 2026, final winter intensive, dates tba)
- Three Summer Intensives (a five-day training in late June or early July held during the ALEPH Ordination Program Intensive Study Week, aka “Smicha Week”). The 2024 Smicha Week is to be held the week of June 30, 2024, at Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. Summer 2025 and 2026 intensives exact dates and locations TBD
- Five Semesters Hashpa’ah Supervision (with individuals and groups from Fall 2024 through Fall 2026)
(ALEPH rabbinic students earn one unit of credit in Kli Kodesh for each of the 5 intensives)
Topics for Intensive have included:
- Styles of Hashpa’ah and Holy Listening
- Personal Theology and Prayer
- The arc of Spiritual Formation (inc. lineage, internalize Jewish, gender, cultural, and other identities)
- Transpersonal Guidance – God, guides, ancestors and malachim/messengers
- Hashpa’ah and Rituals (for blessing, healing, and transformation)
- Group Spiritual Direction
- Multi-faith/Interfaith Spiritual Direction
(2) Hashpa’ah Training Program Courses – Thirteen Week Live Video Courses Offered in the Fall and Spring Semesters:
- Issues in Hashpa’ah – year one (January-May 2024)
- Issues of Sage-ing and Hashpa’ah – year two (Fall 2025)
- Sacred Text and Hashpa’ah – year three (Fall 2026)
(For ALEPH rabbinic students, courses 1 and 2 count as units in Kli Kodesh, and course 3 may count either as Kli Kodesh or as Tanach.)
(3) Required Courses offered during the Summer intensives for the Hashpa’ah Training Program:
Requirement determined based on prior experience, in consultation with the Program Director
- Storytelling for Spiritual Transformation
- One of: Hasidic Texts and Spiritual Practice/ or Mussar/ or Reb Zalman’s Writings for Transformation
- For non-clergy students, our ‘in-house’ specially designed Clinical Pastoral course (can be substituted with one unit of CPE) (see CPE requirements for clergy below)
(4) Thirteen-week courses are offered during the Fall and Spring semesters. These courses should be completed by the end of the Hashpa’ah Training Program. Students are typically required to take three or four of these courses.
Requirement determined based on prior experience, in consultation with Program Director:
All required to take:
- Deep Ecumenism (interfaith studies and new cosmology) (offered Spring of 2024, 2025 and 2026, 13-week course)
Additional Courses- take two or three courses:
- Introduction to Hasidut
- Foundations of Jewish Practice
- Introduction to the Siddur
- Jewish Traditions of Sacred Time: Theology of the Jewish Year
- Themes of the Jewish Mystical Tradition: Yesh Sod la-Davar
- Introduction to Jewish Renewal and Reb Zalman’s Thought
(5) These Courses are required for AOP Clergy Students only:
Best if taken prior or during the Hashpa’ah Training Program
- Clinical Pastoral Education, 1 Unit
- Pastoral Counseling 1 and 2
- Davvenen Leaders Training Institute [optional for non-clergy] www.DLTITraining.org
(6) Two reflection papers required per year.
(7) Revised Spiritual Autobiography required in the final year.
See the bios of the Spiritual Direction Training Program Faculty
.Application Process – 7th COHORT – Now Closed
Application to the ALEPH Ordination Program in HASHPA’AH consists of:
- filling out an online Application Form
- submitting a Spiritual Autobiography (see application form)
- providing two Letters of Recommendation. (see application form)
If you are presently an ALEPH student, one of your letters of recommendation must be from your DOS.
CURRENT AOP STUDENT APPLICATION – Closed
ORDAINED CLERGY AND NON-CLERGY APPLICATION – Closed
If you are not ready to apply but would like more information, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is The AOP Hashpa'ah Program only open to ordained Jewish clergy or students?
When our training program first began, our policy had stressed limiting enrollment to Jewish clergy as we felt that this insured a high level of Jewish learning, permitting more advanced text study as well as a commonality of interests and needs. However, beginning with cohort 4, we began to accept a limited enrollment of non-clergy students whose applications and interviews reveal to us that they have a strong Jewish background and show exceptional promise for this work. We fully affirm that therapists, chaplains, and others may be gifted in the arena of spiritual counseling and accept applications from prospective students who are not clergy or students in a clergy track. A variety of pastoral and Jewish practice and spirituality courses are part of the training program for those who are not ordained clergy, clergy students who have not yet taken certain courses and non-clergy as per the information listed on the Hashpa’ah homepage and in dialogue with the Director.
Why is HASHPA’AH a three-year program?
This allows for more learning and personal development, as well as more supervised practice in working with mushpa’im (directees). It is worth noting we have asked prior cohorts after the three year program whether they would have preferred it too be shorter, and the vast majority have asked us not to shorten the time for spiritual formation and taking the journey together.
Why does The AOP Hashpa'ah Program give 'smicha' — ordination as mashpia — as well as a Certificate of Completion as Spiritual Director?
Every student who successfully completes this 3-year training receives a Certificate of Completion as a Jewish Spiritual Director. Ordained clergy may also be eligible to receive a further smicha, when they complete their primary smicha program as an extension of their existing smicha, adding an ordination as a Mashpia Ruchani/Mashpi’ah Ruchanit. “Certification” is not given as Spiritual Directors International does not offer certification oversight per se, though ongoing supervision and continuing to meet with a Mashpia/h is a requirement for anyone to offer hashpa’ah.