Hashpa’ah: Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors

On Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 10 pm (eastern)
ALEPH held a Hashpa'ah Program Graduation Ceremony

 
View The Event Video

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 or mashpia who offers guidance and support on matters of faith and practice, and on a personal relationship with the Divine. The ALEPH Hashpa’ah program was designed by Rabbi Shohama Wiener and colleagues, with the guidance and blessing of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the visionary founder of Jewish Renewal. The program continues to evolve under the leadership of Rabbi Nadya Gross, Director, Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Associate Director, and other training faculty.

This program, unique in Jewish history, offers a three-year concentration in Jewish Studies and Jewish Spiritual Counseling and Guidance, leading to Certification 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 non clergy students 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.

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, and other areas of learning.

The requirements of the training program include five Intensives, video-conference coursework that can be accomplished over several semesters, five semesters of supervised practice with individuals and groups, and supplemental learning in related areas. Participants train individually and in group settings with mashpi'im who support their spiritual growth in relationship to G*d and sacred service, and model for them diverse modalities of spiritual counseling and 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 evening 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 student week.")
  • Five Semesters Supervised Practice (with individuals and groups)**

Semester-length Video-Conference courses

Courses specifically for the Hashpa'ah Program

  1. Issues in Hashpa’ah
  2. Sacred Text and Hashpa’ah
  3. Issues of Sage-ing and Hashpa’ah

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

Courses from the larger AOP Roster of Ordination Program requirements:

(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
  • Introduction to Jewish Renewal and Reb Zalman's Thought/ or Reb Zalman's Writings for Transformation
  • Hasidic Texts and Spiritual Practice/ or Mussar
  • Introduction to Hasidut
  • Foundations of Halachic Practice
  • Walk Through the Siddur
  • Jewish Traditions of Sacred Time: Theology of the Jewish Year
  • Themes of the Jewish Mystical Tradition: Yesh Sod la-Davar
  • Deep Ecumenism (interfaith studies and new cosmology)

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]

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
  • 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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.
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.
This allows for more learning and personal development, as well as more supervised practice in working with mushpa’im (directees).
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.

Application Process

In January 2014, the ALEPH Ordination Programs began our fourth hashpa'ah cohort. 

The next training group begins in January 2017. Application to the ALEPH Ordination Program in HASHPA'AH consists of:

  • filling out an on-line application, "click here" to proceed to 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 to both:
Rabbi Nadya Gross: ngross@aleph-ordination.org
Rabbi Shawn Zevit: szevit@aleph-ordination.org

In addition to this form and spiritual autobiography, 2 letters of recommendation are to be submitted to R. Nadya and R. Shawn. If you are presently an ALEPH student, one of your letters of recommendation must be from your DOS.

By submitting this application I attest that the answers provided are true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I also affirm the following fees:

  • Non-refundable application fee* to be submitted with this application - $75, ordained clergy; $50, students
  • Annual tuition** due on Dec. 1, 2016 and Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec 1, 2018 -  $2500
  • Admin Fee (for students who are not in an AOP Smicha track) payable at the start of each year with tuition; $600
  • $18/month Chai Sustaining Membership in ALEPH, beginning in the first month of the program if you are not yet an ALEPH Sustaining member.

It is important to be working with a mashpia for at least six months prior to entering the training. We can help you locate a mashpia who is a good fit for you.

For more information, or to make a payment plan, 
please contact our Administrator, Ming Shem Lu at the
ALEPH office (215) 247-9700, ext. 21 or ordination@aleph.org.

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


*The application fee is not refundable. However, you may withdraw from the program if you notify Rabbi Nadya Gross by letter or email – ngross@aleph-ordination.org – by Sept. 1, 2016. Because a limited number of spaces are available, any student cancelling after this date will be responsible for half the first year’s tuition.

**Tuition includes all winter intensives, 3 core courses and supervision fees. Not included are fees for Smicha Week and additional courses from the AOP roster to complete adjunct requirements.