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 the traditional term for the relationship with a Jewish spiritual director/companion or mashpia who offers guidance and support on matters of faith and practice, and on a personal relationship with the Divine or Source 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.

We are now preparing the way for Cohort 7 to launch in 2024, under the guidance of Rabbi Shawn Zevit, with the support of Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder, the Rosh/Head of Hashpaah, and additional faculty. For more information or to get on the application list for Cohort 7, please email Szevit@comcast.net.

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.

Program Details

  • Two Winter Intensives (the Tuesday afternoon through Friday afternoon before the OHALAH conference each January),
  • Three Summer Courses (a five-day training held during the ALEPH Ordination Program Intensive Study Week,  aka “Smicha Week.”)
  • Five Semesters Supervised Practice (with individuals and groups)**

(ALEPH rabbinic students earn one unit of credit in Kli Kodesh for each of the 5 intensives)

Semester-length Video-Conference courses

Courses specifically for the Hashpa’ah Program cohort

  1. Issues in Hashpa’ah – year one
  2. Sacred Text and Hashpa’ah – year two
  3. Issues of Sage-ing and Hashpa’ah – year three

(For ALEPH rabbinic students, courses 1 and 3 count as units in Kli Kodesh, and course 2 may count either as Kli Kodesh or as Tanach.)

Select Courses required from the larger roster of AOP classes:

(These already exist either as part of ALEPH Ordination Programs’ offerings, or as part of ALEPH’s core requirements for becoming a paradigm-shifting spiritual leader. Credit will be given for comparable courses taken in other seminaries and elsewhere; this will be determined in the registration process.)

  • Storytelling for Spiritual Transformation
  • Deep Ecumenism (interfaith studies and new cosmology) must be taken through AOP
  • Hasidic Texts and Spiritual Practice/ or Mussar/ or Reb Zalman’s Writings for Transformation

Foundation courses – requirement determined based on prior experience, in consultation with Program Director

  • 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

Practical Rabbinics:

  • CPE  / can be either one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education or our ‘in-house’ specially designed course.
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Meditation
  • Davvenen Leaders Training Institute [optional for non-clergy] www.DLTITraining.org

Two reflection papers required per year.

Revised Spiritual Autobiography required in the final year.

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

Application Process (will open in 2023, date TBD)

Application to the ALEPH Ordination Program in HASHPA’AH consists of:

  • filling out an online Application Form
  • submitting a Spiritual Autobiography and
  • providing two Letters of Recommendation. If you are presently an ALEPH student, one of your letters of recommendation must be from your DOS.

Please email a brief Spiritual Autobiography describing your soul path to this date and why you are experiencing a call to become a Jewish Spiritual Mashpia/ah to:
Rabbi Shawn Zevit: Szevit@comcast.net

If you’re interested in taking one of our Public Courses, please click HERE for more information or to register.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the unique features of The AOP Hashpa’ah Program compared to other training programs in Spiritual Direction?
The AOP Hashpa’ah Program embraces a rich multi-dimensional approach. Just as the various rebbes had different styles of counseling, so too The AOP Hashpa’ah Program faculty model varying styles and approaches. Our training draws both from the uniquely Jewish tradition of fostering a direct soul-work relationship with a rebbe or mashpia, and from the many helpful practices and lessons we have learned from other religious traditions.
Is The AOP Hashpa'ah Program only open to ordained Jewish clergy or students?
Until this past cohort, while fully affirming that therapists, chaplains, and laypeople may be gifted in the arena of spiritual counseling, 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. Therefore we now accept applications from prospective students who are not clergy or students in a clergy track.
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).
Why does The AOP Hashpa'ah Program give 'smicha' — ordination as mashpia — as well as Certification as Spiritual Director?
Every student who sucessfully completes this 3-year training receives Certification 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.