Blog

A Conversation about Purim with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie

In case you missed it, watch Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie in conversation with Rabbi Josh Feigelson, IJS Executive Director. This live public event sponsored by IJS, took place on Thursday evening, February 12, 2021 with an audience of more than 600 people. Rabbi Amichai shares a unique perspective on Purim and offers new ways to celebrate virtually this year.

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founding Spiritual Leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performance artist, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2016. Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “rock star” by the New York Times, and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week.

An Evening of Conversation with Rabbi Art Green

On Tuesday evening November 10, 2020, Rabbi Josh Feigelson, PhD, IJS Executive Director, interviewed Rabbi Dr. Art Green at a live public event sponsored by IJS, to an audience of more than 500 people. This is a full recording of their conversation.

Art Green is one of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s founding teachers. He is also the founding dean and current director of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College, as well as Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University. He is both a historian of Jewish religion and a theologian; his work seeks to form a bridge between these two distinct fields of endeavor.

Educated at Brandeis University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he received rabbinic ordination, Art studied with such important teachers as Alexander Altmann, Nahum Glatzer, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory. He has taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (where he served as both Dean and President), Brandeis, and now at Hebrew College. He was the founder of Havurat Shalom in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1968 and remains a leading independent figure in the Jewish Renewal movement.

Art is author, editor, and translator of more than twenty books. Among his scholarly works are Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav and Keter: The Crown of God in Early Jewish Mysticism. Art is also well known for his translations and interpretations of Hasidic teachings, including: Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from Around the Maggid’s Table (2013). Among his most recent works are the two-volume A New Hasidim (JPS, 2019), co-edited with Ariel Evan Mayse and a complete translation of the Hasidic classic The Light of the Eyes (Stanford, 2020).

Art’s most recent book is Judaism for the World: Reflections on God, Life, and Love (Yale, 2020).

A Major New Partnership Between IJS and Or HaLev

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.

Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

The pursuit of justice, tzedek, is a central pillar of Jewish spiritual practice. In this video, Rabbi Marc Margolius shares a meditation on tzedek as a synthesis of two other middot (spiritual qualities), zerizut (energetic response) and hodeya (gratitude).

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Prayers to Recite Before Voting

In this offering, we have three prayers for you to choose from, to be recited before voting. We recommend reciting your prayer(s) of choice immediately before casting your ballot as a way to ground your kavvanah (intention) for voting.

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Reflections on Sukkot

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dwellings and about containers -- about the temple whose destruction we mourn on Tisha B’av at the start of the holy day arc and about the sukkah that we celebrate at its end. About the houses and apartments we’ve all been largely...

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The Shofar Project Adds Four New Partners

We are pleased to announce that ALEPH, the American Conference of Cantors, Cantors Assembly, and Torat Chayim have joined The Shofar Project as our newest partners.These four organizations join the Central Conference of American Rabbis, International Rabbinic...

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Rabbi Myriam Klotz Joins IJS Staff as Senior Program Director

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) announced today that Rabbi Myriam Klotz will join the organization’s staff as Senior Program Director effective August 17. Klotz, a major figure in Jewish yoga and embodied practice for decades, has been a faculty member at...

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IJS Welcomes Michal Fox Smart as Chief Program Officer

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality announced today that Michal Fox Smart will become the organization’s first Chief Program Officer effective July 1. She will serve as the leader of the program team, overseeing the Institute’s faculty and program staff and...

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