“I have been able to find a stronger center in myself to which I can return so that I am not shaken by the daily ups and downs of congregational life.”

— Rabbi Rona Shapiro

Our Spiritual Practices

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What is Jewish Spirituality?

We are often asked, “What do you mean by Jewish spirituality?” Spirituality is experienced differently by individual people. These are some words that we associate with spirituality:

meaningful • purposeful • awareness • experience-based • values
healing • soul • love • alive • integrity • God • Divine • energy • depth

interconnected • life force • clarity • journey • discernment • safety sacred • mysterious • the unknown • potential • attention • presence

open-hearted • vulnerability • transformation • unfolding • joyful

Core Jewish Spiritual Practices

Our focus is on teaching Jewish spiritual practices. A spiritual experience is mysterious and filled with grace. Spiritual practice, on the other hand, is a disciplined, ongoing dedication to particular contemplative forms with the intention of cultivating certain heart/mind/awareness states and bringing the inner life and the outside world into greater alignment –indeed, to blur the distinction between the inner and the outer. Spiritual practice does not guarantee spiritual experiences, but it helps us live a more awake and responsive life.

While many traditional and non-traditional activities could be included in Jewish spiritual practice, the Institute focuses on teachings grounded in cultivating greater attention and mindfulness. The core practices we teach include:

  • Tefillah (prayer)
  • Talmud Torah (learning of a wide range of traditional texts, with a special emphasis on Chasidic and other mystically-oriented texts)
  • Jewish mindfulness meditation
  • Embodied practices, including yoga and singing
  • Tikkun middot (developing desirable personal and communal traits)

We believe that these practices are best integrated when taught in environments that include retreat conditions, silence, contemplative listening, supportive community, and music.