ALEPH Ordination Program Smicha Week 5784/2024

COURSE INFO

Students are encouraged to check in with their DOS prior to registering for courses at Smicha Week.

The schedule will include 2.5 hours of learning in the morning and 2.5 hours of learning in the afternoon, Monday through Friday, for a total of 12.5 hours per course.

These courses may include pre-Smicha Week preparation. The remaining balance of learning will be contained in the 12.5 contact hours (that is, no post-Smicha Week assignments), for a total of 1 unit of credit each.

It is our intention, with this program, to offer students the opportunity to choose a more or less intensive week of learning according to their academic plan, energy, and interests; while also focusing on the experience of being in community with the students and faculty of the AOP. Just because we are offering the learning does not mean that you must sign up for courses (however, fees will not be able to be prorated.) The idea is for you to be able to choose how your week is scheduled.

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MORNING COURSES

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Anguish in a Time of Anguish: Iyyov/Job

Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D.

SUBJECT AREA: TANAKH
Credit Area: Rabbinic – TaNaKH Elective; TaNaKH Writings; Kli Kodesh       

In these awful and awe-full times, we think of Iyyov (Job) and his troubles – his loneliness, his complicated relationships with friends, his sense of loss and tragedy, his anger and his profound wrestlings with God – we, too, are experiencing all this in this time of war. In the darkness of this traumatic time, we will explore Iyyov’s journeys and our own through reading the text, looking at his responses and our own, wondering about pastoral responses, theology, theodicy, and more.

As preparation for the class, please read the entire Book of Job and write a letter to Job about your sense of connection with him, as you endure this time of war in Israel, antisemitism in the world and the plight of innocents. Please send the letter to Reb Leila at lgberner@aleph-ordination.org as an MSWord document at least one week before Smicha Week.

Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D. (she/her) was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and holds a second ordination from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (of blessed memory). She received her doctorate in medieval Jewish history from UCLA, with expertise in the history of Jews in medieval Spain. She served as Dean of Students of the ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Ordination Program for seven years and continues to teach biblical and medieval history, feminist thought, and midrash. She has recently published Listening to the Heart of Genesis: A Contemplative Path, which offers a new path into Torah study and integration. Rabbi Dr. Gal Berner has taught in the Departments of Philosophy and Religion at American University and George Washington and Emory universities, and in the Departments of Religion at Swarthmore and Reed colleges.

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Rainbow Jewish Theologies: Venturing Beyond Jewish Feminisms, Queer Theologies & Trans Poetics

Rabbi Aubrey Glazer, Ph.D.

SUBJECT AREA: THOUGHT
Credit area:
Rabbinic – Jewish Feminist Thought / Cantorial – Jewish Thought Elective / RP – Jewish Feminist Thought

The innovation of the first multi-colored prayer shawl envisioned and fashioned by Reb Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, z”l, is in part what brought the “rainbow tallit” concretely as an embodied ritual symbol into Jewish communities. What was the theology behind Reb Zalman’s refraction of the divine light into colors of the rainbow? Moreover, when we consider Rainbow Theology as articulated by Queer Asian American Theologian, Patrick S. Cheng, we will consider his critique to move beyond earlier liberation monochromatic theologies based on themes of: (1) Singularity; (2) Staying home; (3) Selecting sides.

This course will trace the transformations through waves of thinking theologically from the lenses of what Cheng calls Rainbow Theology comprised of: (1) Multiplicity; (2) Middle Spaces; (3) Mediation. How has Jewish Thought transformed in venturing within and beyond gender? And in turn, how have the textures of Queer theologies transformed in light of Jewish Thought beyond gender? This course will consider Cheng’s triune Rainbow Theology to explore the multiplicity of Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) theologies and trans poetics continuing to emerge in recent decades.

Thinkers will range from Judith Plaskow to Gwenn Kessler, from Rachel Adler to Jay Michaelson. Furthermore, we will explore how Jewish Thought is continuing to evolve in relation to Trans Theology and Trans poetics will be explored in the thinking of Joy Ladin, Trace Peterson, Nerissa Gailey, H. Adam Ackely, Cameron Partridge, and Maxine L. Grossman. The course will play between two directionalities both “Synchronic” ideas (“simultaneous”) versus “diachronic” ideas (“non-simultaneous”) in terms of influencing this process of transforming Jewish Thought. “Diachronic” ideas including: premodern voices (1st century –1500CE); Early Modern Voices (1500-1900); Modern Voices (1900-1969); “Synchronic” ideas including: queering scripture and hermeneutics; queering theological doctrines; intersectional and queer of color theologies; bisexual, transgender, and intersex theologies; queer theologies of pleasure; and future directions of queer theologies, including queer eco-theologies and queer interfaith theologies.

Familiarily with Jewish Thought helpful (especially having already completed Foundations in Jewish Thought and Philosophy, if not read Neil Gillman’s Sacred Fragments in advance) as well as curiosity about Queer theology and trans poetics is welcome.

Rabbi Aubrey L. Glazer, Ph.D., (he/him) (University of Toronto, 2005) serves as chair of the Department of Jewish Thought and Philosophy for AOP, is a scholar-rabbi, who continues serving as a spiritual leader, rabbi and consultant from the west coast to the east coast, currently serving as rabbi of Beth Abraham Synagogue (Dayton, Ohio). Aubrey is also founding director of Panui (San Francisco, California), an incubator for contemplative practice and conscious community building (panui.org). Aubrey has dedicated decades researching, publishing, teaching and performing piyyut in many incarnations as well as translating and collaborating with contemporary Hebrew poets and mystics in a variety of forms. Aubrey is a teacher in demand in many contexts, from federations to rabbinical school seminaries to universities and Jewish meditation retreats. Aubrey’s most recent books include: Mystical Vertigo (Academic Studies Press, 2013); Tangle of Matter & Ghost: Leonard Cohen’s Post-Secular Songbook of Mysticism(s) Jewish & Beyond (Academic Studies Press, 2017). A fuller list of his publications can be viewed at: https://aubreyglazer.academia.edu/

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Clergyperson as Energy Worker

Rabbi Shefa Gold

SUBJECT AREA: KLI KODESH
Credit area: Rabbinic – Kli Kodesh

A spiritual leader needs to understand and learn to work with energy: their own and that of the group. Over the many years of Rabbi Shefa’s rabbinate, she has developed tools that address both of these requirements.

Some of those tools help her to sustain, protect and empower herself in her leadership and in her health, wholeness and integrity.

And some of her tools help her to read and respond to the energy of a group. For 13 and a half years she taught these methods at Kol Zimra, to 9 cohorts of clergy and lay leaders. She taught them at the very first DLTI. Over the years her methods have evolved and been refined and tested by her students who have been practicing in their communities. Her methods are based on a collaborative model of leadership whereby every member of the group is encouraged to bring their generous presence in service to the whole.

This course is for anyone in leadership or sacred service.

Rabbi Shefa Gold (she/her) received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and is the director of C-DEEP, The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice. Shefa has produced ten albums, and is the author of 4 books: Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land, In the Fever of Love, The Magic of Hebrew Chant, and Are We There Yet? Travel as a Spiritual Practice. Her new project, Love at the Center, is an immersion in The Song of Songs–a mystical text that is meant to transform our lives so that we can transform the world.

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Hazzan Masterclass

Hazzan Jack Kessler

SUBJECT AREA: HAZZANUT
Credit Area: Cantorial Requirement

Join Hazzan Jack Kessler for the Hazzanut Masterclass, specifically designed for and only open to current students studying in the cantorial track. We will explore together through a variety of modalities including: vocal tech, improvisation, melisma practice, call/answer chant, niggun, and solo performance.

This course is for cantorial students only.

Hazzan Jack Kessler (he/him), founder and director of the ALEPH Cantorial Program, trains the hazzanim of the future and is one of the few living composers of classical hazzanut. In addition to teaching voice as spiritual process, he directs the concert ensembles Atzilut: Concerts for Peace (Jewish and Arab musicians together) and Klingon Klezmer (Jewish music from the future).

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Holy Moments: Declaiming and Chanting Essential Hebrew Prayers

Hazzan Abbe Lyons

SUBJECT AREA: KLI KODESH
Credit area:
Rabbinic – Kli Kodesh / Rabbinic and RP – can fulfill music competencies, not specific courses

Improve your declaiming and/or chanting with a focus on some of our most essential Hebrew prayers. Whether it’s on the bima, under the huppah, at the bedside, at the graveside, at a babynaming or at the Shabbat or holiday table, we’ve got a prayer for that, and this course will build your skills in the delivery of those prayers.

Pronunciation, rhythm, phrasing, melody, understanding the text, and kavanah all contribute to bringing alive our texts for these holy moments, and effective practice techniques can show us how to use our wings so we can fly gracefully. We will focus on each of these prayers as a group: El Malei Rachamim, Misheberach l’cholimot, Sheva Brachot, Kiddush liturgy for all occasions, and various options for Birkat Hamazon. In addition, each student will spend time expanding your own growing edge, whether it be mastering specific prayers or generally improving your skills as a declaimer and chanter. Start from where you are and find your stretch.

For those prayers applicable for both lifecycle and bima, we will explore the differences between singular (m, f and nonbinary) and communal. We will have a one hour pre-smicha group Zoom and each student will have one hour of private coaching over the summer (after Smicha Week).

Prerequisite: be able to pronounce prayerbook Hebrew and have some simple knowledge of Hebrew grammar, or Biblical Hebrew 101. Contact Hazzan Abbe if you have any questions or need accommodations.
Declaiming (speaking clearly with expressiveness and volume to bring out the meaning) is required for all students. Chanting is encouraged but not required.

Hazzan Abbe Lyons (she/her) serves as AOP’s Music Competency Supervisor and teaches practical davennen leadership skills. She is dedicated to making Jewish music, learning and practice both accessible and inspiring, in everyday life as well as at sacred times. She received smicha from the ALEPH Cantorial Program in 2010. Her teaching is informed by her education and experience as a musician as well as a Feldenkrais (R) practitioner. She is the Jewish Chaplain for Hillel at Ithaca College, where she received a B.Mus. in voice performance in 1987, and Business Manager for Hillel at Binghamton. She is also on the faculty of the Davennen Leadership Training Institute. As a SpeakChorus Torah Project educator, she has facilitated SpeakChorus Torah at Ruach HaAretz retreat, the ALEPH Kallah, and in congregational settings with adults and teens.

Hazzan Abbe is a writer and innovative liturgist whose published work includes Jewish Liturgy: A Guide for Everyone, poetry and alternative social justice haftarot. In 2017 she and her multifaith band, Resonate, released the album, Listen! Other recording credits include Behold! (Vocolot, 1997), Roots and Wings (Vocolot, 1992) and Household Chores (Abbe Lyons, 1990).

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Hashpa’ah Cohort Gathering

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit and Rabbi David Curiel

FOR HASHPA’AH COHORT ONLY
Credit area: Hashpa’ah Training Program only

This gathering is for members of the current hashpa’ah cohort only. Please reach out to Rabbi Shawn if you have any questions.

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit (he/him), (RRC/ALEPH), www.rabbizevit.com, has served as rabbi at Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA, since 2013. He is co-founder/director (2000 on) with Rabbi Marcia Prager of the Davennen Leader’s Training Institute (www.DLTITraining.org) and has been one of the leaders of ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program for over a decade. He is also a rabbinic mentor in Rabbi Sid Swarz’s CLI Clergy program. Shawn is an active leader is faith and justice work, a liturgical recording and performing artist, one of the founders of www.menschwork.org; co-editor of “Brother Keepers: New Perspectives in Jewish Masculinity”; and author of Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community.

Rabbi David Curiel (he/him) is currently serving as the Assistant Director of the ALEPH Ordination Program’s Hashpa’ah Training Program as well as assisting his teacher, Rabbi Nadya Gross, in teaching Secrets My Grandmother Told Me: A Wisdom School. Additionally, he also serves as adjunct faculty at Hebrew College as well as teaching and counseling private clients. Rabbi David has led prayer and meditation and nourished souls for over a dozen years, including at Asiyah—the community he co-founded and led for five years in Somerville, MA—as well as with Nava Tehila in Jerusalem and Romemu in Manhattan. I’ve sat multiple vipassana retreats with various teachers at the Insight Meditation Society, as well as with Rabbi Alan Lew, z”l, and Rabbi David Cooper, z”l.

Rabbi David carries smicha/ordination as Rabbi and Mashpi’a Ruchani/Spiritual Director in the lineage of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, ztz”l, through the ALEPH Ordination Program. He studied at Hebrew College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and the Shalom Hartman Institute along the way. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (bachelor’s) and Indiana University (MBA) and have completed training as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP).

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AFTERNOON COURSES

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Be-khol D’rekhekha: בכל דרכיך דעהו—“In All Your Ways, Come to Know the Divine” (Proverbs 3:6) – Hasidic and Mystical Teachings for Spiritual Practice

Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg, Ph.D.

SUBJECT AREA: MYSTICISM
Credit area:
Rabbinic – Mystic Elective / RP – Mysticism Requirement – MYSTIC 401 Intro to Hasidut Equivalent

One of the core teachings in Hasidic (and Renewal!) tradition is the possibility of finding the divine spark in all our actions—while greasing a wagon wheel, in prayer and meditation, while sharing food, conversing or cradling an infant; while walking in the forest, marching for social justice, observing a flock of birds, while chanting a niggun, or listening deeply—in short, in the act of becoming Present, nokhah p’nei Ha-Shem (Lam. 2:19). 

In this course, we will explore a concentrated array of some of Rabbi Elliot’s favorite teachings and practices—drawn largely from Hasidic and Mystical Sources—that are intended to nurture Spiritual Growth.

Among the ten or so themes, a minyan’s-worth, we may explore are:
• From ANiY to AYiN: Entering with the whole Self and Going beyond the Self (moving skillfully between dialogical and the non-dual)
• Working with Anger (Righteous and Otherwise) and Finding Points of Balance/Hishtavvut
• Simcha: Holding Joy and Sorrow;
• Ha-kol be-vat ahat: Holding Complexity in a Time of War
• Discerning when to Leap and when to Wait;
• Discerning what is a-Borning and what is a-Dying in us/between us;
• Tsubrokhnkeit: Breaking the heart open and keeping it open even when it isn’t being shattered;
• Deployment/Shelichut: Integrating your gifts and the World’s needs (or “upbuilding your part of the Sanctuary”)
• Holding and Letting Go; and as we all prepare to enter Shabbat
• Menucha/Deep Rest: from Quieting (Hashqatah) to Energetic Renewal.

We will generally explore two themes each day, and punctuate it with an embodied practice. Our tools will be close reading of sacred texts (provided both in Hebrew and in English translation); havruta work and group conversation; chanting, meditation and simple movement. And yes, humor and word-play. This is learning meant to stretch you, to open eyes, heart and mind—in multiple worlds and modes, through work and play—בכל דרכיך!

This course is appropriate both for advanced learners (with a Spiritual Practice, familiarity with Jewish Mysticism and solid Hebrew) and for those feeling their way in; that is, for students in the Ordination tracks and for those in the Hashpa’ah cohort. Texts will be provided both in the original (generally Hebrew) and in English translation.

Rabbi Elliot K. Ginsburg, Ph.D. (he/him) wears many hats, not all of which are fedoras. He is a professor of Jewish Thought and Mysticism at the University of Michigan, the founding rabbi of the Pardes
Hannah minyan in Ann Arbor, a member of the AOP Va’ad, and is the author of studies on Jewish mysticism, the kabbalistic Shabbat, and spiritual practice. Reb Elliot seeks to combine intellectual engagement with a devotional stance, and lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Linda Jo Doctor. They “have” three adult children, six grandchildren, and two mostly wonderful cats (one of whom is purportedly—purr-portedly—considering the cantorial program).

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Pattern Thinking in Midrash

Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D.

SUBJECT AREA: RABBINIC TEXTS
Credit area:
Rabbinic – Midrash Requirement; RABTXT Elective / RP – TaNaKH Midrash Requirement

The basic building blocks of the midrashic way of thinking is to juxtapose one text with another, to string texts like a jewel necklace to create new ideas and perspectives, taking old material and recombining it in new ways. In this way, without changing a word in the Torah, it was always alive and new. In this course we will look at a variety of texts from the Tanakh to see how the Torah itself builds on subtle cross references and hints to its own texts, and we will examine how the rabbis who created the classic Midrash picked up on this and expanded it in their own way. What emerges is a method and a mode of thought that seeks patterns. Learning this pattern way of thinking will not only help us to read the classic Rabbinic Midrash texts, but it can also give us tools for creating our own living, contemporary Torah.

There will be some English readings assigned between the end of the semester and Smicha Week, as well as some of the Hebrew texts to work on. This course will be a good opportunity to improve Hebrew skills. English translations will be provided for Hebrew texts, but students are encouraged to work on the Hebrew as much as makes sense for them. Students should have passed Hebrew 102.

Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D. (he/him) was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a young adult he lived for twelve years in Israel and received rabbinic ordination at The Jerusalem Seminary in 1990. He earned a Ph.D. in Talmud from UC Berkeley in 2001. Natan has taught at Bard College, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College.

Natan is the author of The Pearl and the Flame: A Journey into Jewish Wisdom and Ecological Thinking. He is Interim Dean of Faculty and a member of the Va’ad (steering committee and core faculty) of the ALEPH Ordination Program, and serves as chair of their Rabbinic Texts department. He is also the Director of the AOP’s Earth-Based Judaism Program.

Natan is Founder of Organic Torah, fostering holistic thinking about Judaism, environment and society, which is a program of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. He lives with his wife, two sons and their dog, Pele (named for the Hebrew word for wonder, and also the Hawaiian goddess, not the soccer player) in Newton, MA.

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Abraham’s Journey of Faith as a Model for a Spiritual Seeker

Rabbi Marcia Prager

SUBJECT AREA: TANAKH
Credit area:
Rabbinic – TaNaKH Elective; RABTXT Midrash; Kli Kodesh / RP – TaNaKH Midrash Requirement

It is said that as a boy, when Abraham recoiled in horror from the idolatrous travesty that consumed the soul of Ur, he would lie for hours in the open fields, his insistent spirit soaring, interrogating the star strewn sky. If the idols were not gods, what then? Was god the mysterious moon of night? Could that be? Yet dawn comes and moon yields sky to sun. Perhaps, he thought, we are called to serve the flaming fire of day? As he lay pressed into the earth, his soul soaring to heaven, days and nights rolled past. Sun, then moon, then sun again… Knowing grew inside him: oasis waters seeping, swelling. No! Not sun, not moon, no force that can be seen or named. Something larger, greater, more powerful, sourcing all yet filling all. Not sun. Not moon. Not the idols or their priests.

Only One Power.
One Source.
One God!
YES!

Rabbi Marcia Prager (she/her) is Director and Dean Emerita of the ALEPH Ordination Program, and rabbi of the P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Congregation of Philadelphia PA. She is the author of The Path of Blessing and creator of the P’nai Or Siddurim for Shabbat, the new P’nai Or Rosh HaShanah Machzor, and other innovative approaches to prayer and liturgy. She and Rabbi Shawn Zevit are the founding co-directors of the Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI).‎

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Summer Music Omnibus: From Concert to Table

Hazzan Ramón Tasat, Ph.D. and Hazzan Abbe Lyons

SUBJECT AREA: HAZZANUT
Credit area:
Cantorial – required / Rabbinic – Kli Kodesh

This applied vocal music course (required for cantorial students) will build your repertoire for a variety of settings including concert, table, bima, and kumsitz, with the appropriate performance practice.

Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday: Ladino Performance Masterclass with Hazzan Ramón Tasat, Ph.D.
Thursday & Friday: Zmirot Resource Building with Hazzan Abbe Lyons

Prerequisites: Music reading fluency and ability to prepare solos for the masterclass sessions.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Hazzan Dr. Ramón Tasat (he/him) learned Ladino, the language of the ‎Sephardic people, at his grandmother’s knee. ‎Trained in five different countries, Hazzan Dr. Ramón has studied at UT Austin, where he received a Doctorate degree in Voice Performance. Hazzan Dr. Ramón is the hazzan of Tiferet Bet Israel (TBI) in Blue Bell, PA.

Hazzan Dr. Tasat is also the musical Director of Kolot HaLev, a Jewish Community choir in the DC area and the past president of Shalshelet: The Foundation for New ‎Jewish Liturgical Music.‎

Hazzan Dr. Tasat offers a wide spectrum of lectures, workshops, and programs, which ‎range from “A Concert for Peace” to “Lullabies in Jewish Tradition,” and “Echoes of ‎Sefarad” to “The Music of Modern Israel.” ‎

Hazzan Abbe Lyons (she/her) serves as AOP’s Music Competency Supervisor and teaches practical davennen leadership skills. She is dedicated to making Jewish music, learning and practice both accessible and inspiring, in everyday life as well as at sacred times. She received smicha from the ALEPH Cantorial Program in 2010. Her teaching is informed by her education and experience as a musician as well as a Feldenkrais (R) practitioner. She is the Jewish Chaplain for Hillel at Ithaca College, where she received a B.Mus. in voice performance in 1987, and Business Manager for Hillel at Binghamton. She is also on the faculty of the Davennen Leadership Training Institute. As a SpeakChorus Torah Project educator, she has facilitated SpeakChorus Torah at Ruach HaAretz retreat, the ALEPH Kallah, and in congregational settings with adults and teens.

Hazzan Abbe is a writer and innovative liturgist whose published work includes Jewish Liturgy: A Guide for Everyone, poetry and alternative social justice haftarot. In 2017 she and her multifaith band, Resonate, released the album, Listen! Other recording credits include Behold! (Vocolot, 1997), Roots and Wings (Vocolot, 1992) and Household Chores (Abbe Lyons, 1990).

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Kehillah Builders: Communal Spiritual Leadership Then and Now

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit

SUBJECT AREA: KLI KODESH
Credit area: Rabbinic – Kli Kodesh

Exploring historic and emerging Jewish and broader models for spiritual leaders in growing and nurturing sacred communities/groups, this course will explore historic and current approaches to effective spiritual leadership and core elements in building sacred and healthy Jewish community, from a Jewish and spiritual values-centered approach. Topics will include leadership and governance from systems and adaptive leadership perspectives, including leadership in the areas of justice, spiritual practice, financial resources, and community-building.

We will combine text and best practice study, small and large sharing of challenges and successes, creative and interactive exercises, as we deepen our understanding of the challenges to it in our day and how we as spiritual leaders can become more effective agents for healthy change growth in our own spiritual lives and in the major areas of communal life. Participants will be expected to do preparatory readings, be fully present at each session and participate in interactive exercises and discussion, and choose a project where they are currently or hoping to lead to research and write a paper for in the fall.

Best suited for those who currently have some leadership experience in a Jewish communal setting or have had leadership roles in any variety of religious, organizational or programmatic settings.

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit (he/him), (RRC/ALEPH), www.rabbizevit.com, has served as rabbi at Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA, since 2013. He is co-founder/director (2000 on) with Rabbi Marcia Prager of the Davennen Leader’s Training Institute (www.DLTITraining.org) and has been one of the leaders of ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program for over a decade. He is also a rabbinic mentor in Rabbi Sid Swarz’s CLI Clergy program. Shawn is an active leader is faith and justice work, a liturgical recording and performing artist, one of the founders of www.menschwork.org; co-editor of “Brother Keepers: New Perspectives in Jewish Masculinity”; and author of Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community.