The Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) and Or HaLev Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation (OHL) announced today a major new partnership to develop the next generation of advanced Jewish mindfulness meditation teachers in North America, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The initiative will be led by Or HaLev Founder and Executive Director Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels and jointly developed and staffed by both organizations. It is planned to launch with a two-year cohort of fellows in the fall of 2021.
“Excited does not begin to describe how we feel about this partnership,” said Rabbi Josh Feigelson, Executive Director of IJS. “After two decades of pioneering the field of Jewish spiritual practice, we at IJS see not only an explosion in interest in Jewish mindfulness meditation, but the emergence of a field. The heart of that field is the development of master teachers for a new generation. And there is no better person in the world to lead this project than James. This is a landmark development.”
The new program is intended to help professional teachers of Jewish mindfulness practice, and Jewish professionals who incorporate mindfulness in their teaching, to become master teachers. “So many outstanding teachers now are leading Jewish meditation sits and teaching Jewish mindfulness practices,” says Jacobson-Maisels. “Now is the time to invest in developing the next generation of master teachers who can lead retreats, develop new Torah, and diversify the voices and perspectives of the field. Partnering with IJS, and their superb staff and faculty, is the perfect way to do this.”
The partnership brings IJS’s North America-focused work into dialogue with developments in Jewish spiritual life in Israel, where Or HaLev is based, and in the UK, where it has a substantial presence. “Even before the pandemic, Jewish spiritual practice was a rapidly expanding field” says IJS Chief Program Officer Michal Fox Smart. “Recent events have only accelerated that. This partnership between IJS and Or HaLev will help Jews all over the world now and for years to come.”
Jacobson-Maisels has served as Rosh Yeshiva of the Romemu Yeshiva in Manhattan and has taught at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Hadar. As part of the new agreement, he will also become a visiting member of the IJS faculty and teach in IJS programs. Feigelson and Jacobson-Maisels both view the partnership as an initial step in what they hope is a deepening relationship between the organizations.