“The joy was more palpable than any other prayer service I have ever experienced…PROFOUND. Thank you.”

— Lay Retreat participant Winter 2012

Common Questions

Studying

How can I get more information on retreat logistics?

Please visit Our Retreats page. For additional questions, please contact our Retreats Manager, Esther Smigel.

Where did the Hevraya Resource Bank move to?

Here – http://ijshevraya.wikispaces.com/

What do you mean by Jewish Spirituality?

“Spirituality” is notoriously hard to define. Because it is ultimately the experience of an individual, spirituality will be experienced differently by people depending on their theology, their attitudes, their perspectives about the world. Some of the words that we at the Institute often associate with “spirituality” include:

meaningful; purposeful; depth; experience-based; healing; soul; open-hearted; interconnected; alive; integrity; God; the Divine; energy; life force; clarity; awareness; discernment; safety; values; sacred; mysterious; the unknown; potential; attention; Presence; love; vulnerability; transformation; unfolding; journey

What do you mean by Jewish Spiritual Practice?

At the Institute, we focus on cultivating spiritual practices that foster spiritual growth. Judaism has traditionally emphasized behavior as a powerful way of connecting to the spiritual; in fact, one could consider the entire mitzvot framework as a comprehensive approach to spiritual practice. For more information, please see Our Spiritual Practices .

Who attends your programs?

Participants come from a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds, with all levels of Hebrew knowledge, experience with meditation, yoga, or silence – and we strive to make our sessions accessible and engaging for all participants – including all ages, sexual orientations, genders, mobility needs and physical abilities. In order to be welcoming for all levels of observance, our retreats are Shabbat-friendly and kosher.

Are your programs open to clergy and congregants?

Yes! We welcome participants from across the Jewish spectrum; we tailor the teaching to participant needs. Both our professional and lay programs are based on the importance of practice in developing and sustaining spiritual awareness and practices. The key difference is that our professional programs are by admission only, and are 2 year cohorts. We offer a variety of open programming including weekend retreats, and text study groups. For more information, please view Our Programs page.

Why do you include yoga as a practice?

While many engage in yoga simply as a physically based contemplative practice, within the Institute it is carefully integrated with the other core practices to enhance and echo the larger goals of fostering increased Jewish spiritual connections and awareness, individually and communally.

How can I bring the Institute to my community?

Please consider joining us for a retreat, and encourage your rabbi or cantor to participate in our professional program, as that will have a direct impact on the ongoing life of your community. Many of the Institute faculty and staff regularly serve as Scholars in Residence in synagogues and community centers, please contact us if you would like more information on bringing in faculty for a Shabbaton. We would be happy to help you bring the lay curricula we’ve created and worked with to your community. Please call us at (646)461-6499 for more information.

What other resources do you have available?

We invite you to take advantage of the many resources we have developed over the years. You will find a variety of tools, including podcasts, videocasts, CDs and books under Resources.

Who supports the Institute? Is it affiliated with a Jewish movement?

The Institute has been fortunate to have the support of major foundations, several of them of many years duration; and we are sustained by generous donations from individuals, our alumni and participants. The Institute is not affiliated with any movement, we seek to serve all Jews in deepening their personal spiritual and religious lives, however they express them.