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Learn The Jewish Practice That Teaches You How To Be Your “Best Self”
during the period from Passover to Shavuot, also known as the Omer
How often do you feel out of sync with your own inner values… prompting your inner voice to whisper: “I wish I hadn’t done or said that,” or “I could have said or done that in a better way.”
Judaism can, in fact, help us align our actions and words with our “best selves.” We can all learn to become less reactive and habit-driven, and instead respond more wisely – as a partner, friend, parent, and colleague.
The ancient Jewish practice of developing desirable character traits (tikkun middot) is a powerful, practical tool for aligning our actions with our most deeply held values. Tikkun middot practice is for anyone who wants to more often be their “best selves” in the small and large actions of daily life… in traffic, in meetings, in interactions with family and friends… and when life is particularly challenging.
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality invites you to join Awareness in Action: Cultivating Character through Mindfulness and Middot, a professionally-produced, self-paced online course in which you join a community of practice to help you more consistently align your inner values with how you show up in the world.
IJS is offering a special edition of this program in tikkun middot practice encompassing the Omer – the seven week period in the Jewish calendar beginning on Passover, traditionally a time for working on our character qualities. This edition of the program features teaching by Rabbi Marc Margolius and Rabbi Lisa Goldstein, as well as guest instructors Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife, and Rabbi Aaron Weininger, whose collective teaching reflects their lived experiences as LGBTQ+ Jews and and Jews of Color.
In Awareness in Action, you’ll learn how to access and practice eight core character traits (middot), each of which builds upon and integrates those which precede it:
- Loving connection (chesed)
- Setting wise boundaries for yourself and others (gevurah)
- A balanced self-taking up appropriate space and time (anavah)
- Energetic response–so you can get started and keep going (zerizut)
- Gratitude (hodayah)
- Righteousness-developing your capacity to do what is appropriate and just (tzedek)
- Mindful speech (sh’mirat hadibbur)
- Trustworthiness (emunah)
Bringing mindfulness practice more deeply into your life
Expert instructors Rabbi Marc Margolius and Rabbi Lisa Goldstein, together with Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) Keshira haLev Fife, and Rabbi Aaron Weininger, will expertly guide you each step of the way through establishing a tikkun middot practice that can support you in:
- Growing in self-awareness and gain better insight into your deeper motivations and habitual patterns
- Becoming less reactive and more responsive—better able to access the innate wisdom in your body, mind and soul
- Developing the freedom to choose how you want to act
- Experiencing Jewish spiritual practice as a path to personal transformation.
Here’s What Participants Have Told Us About How This Course Transformed Their Lives
“I’ve heard the phrase, “living an examined life”, many times. But not until I began to participate in tikkun middot practice with IJS did I truly recognize the wisdom of this worldview, and gain the tools to put it into action. Now I am constantly surprised by how often I notice situations arising in which I apply middot to my experiences and responses. And this knowledge has a cumulative effect: the more middot I internalize, the more it enriches my life — personally, professionally, and communally.”
Dan Kaplan, Evanston, IL
“Tikkun middot practice weaves Jewish wisdom through my day to day life, helping me meet situations that I used to find baffling and confusing. It may sound like hyperbole, but now that I’ve been practicing regularly, I experience miracles everywhere. Consistently, no matter what presents as a challenge in my life — from the simplest irritants to the most triggering situations — this practice helps me regulate my internal chaos and remember that my awareness is within me, a light that never goes out.”
Cantor Meredith Greenberg, Montclair NJ
Awareness in Action
A Session-by-Session Course Overview
Here’s a closer look at everything you’ll cover:
Every module is between 30 and 45 minutes in length, and includes:
- Video teachings and guided “real life” scenarios with Rabbi Marc Margolius, Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife, and Rabbi Aaron Weininger.
- A teaching from a related Jewish text with Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
- A professionally recorded chant and sample “focus phrases” (a reminder to practice during the day)
- A supplemental handout with reflection questions
- A live 75 minute weekly online practice session hosted by Rabbi Margolius, with teaching and practices led by Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife, and Rabbi Aaron Weininger. Each of these sessions will also be recorded and posted on the course platform.
- Daily email practice prompts with poetry, songs, texts and practices sent each weekday throughout the program.
- NEW! Beautifully designed worksheets that support journaling and developing a personal focus phrase for each week’s middah.
Loving Connection: Chesed
Open up to loving connection, especially in challenging situations.
Setting wise boundaries: Gevurah
Being loving and generous—but not to the extent you are doing a disservice to family, friends, colleagues, or yourself.
Centering in a balanced self: Anavah
Taking up the right amount of space in the world—neither too much nor too little.
Channeling an energetic response: Zerizut
Accessing the energy you need to either get going—or keep going.
Experiencing gratitude: Hodayah
Accepting life on its own terms and rejoicing about what is true at this moment, just as it is.
Letting Righteousness Flow: Tzedek
Developing your capacity to do what is right and just—with compassion opening new channels through which righteousness can flow.
Mindful speech: Sh’mirat Hadibbur
Applying mindfulness to all of your communications so that they reflect your best self.
Generating Trustworthiness: Emunah
Consistently showing-up for yourself and others.
Once you have finished the eight modules you may notice . . .
- Some of the eight traits (middot) have been easier for you to incorporate into your life than others. There is plenty of time to go back and focus on the ones you found more challenging. In fact, we encourage going back through all eight.
- You are learning which support tools are most helpful for you… is it humming a chant throughout your day; posting a “focus phrase” on your refrigerator or laptop screen; and/or checking-in with a practice partner three times per week.
- You’re becoming more skilled at noticing when you are about to go down a habitual path that is out of alignment with how you want to be in the world—and sometimes doing something different. (It takes practice!)
- You’re increasingly able to meet others (and yourself) with a deeper quality of love, compassion and acceptance.
Course Materials and Resources
This course is appropriate for beginners as well as more experienced meditators and mindfulness practitioners. While the concepts and practices are framed in Jewish terms, no prior Judaic knowledge is assumed or necessary.
When you register, you’ll get access to everything you need to take full advantage of the self-paced course, including:
- 8 sets of self-paced video teaching sessions – that you can access anywhere, anytime from your computer or mobile device.
- 8 guided “Mindful Life” practice scenarios – designed to help you integrate the course teachings into your everyday life.
- 8 teachings from Jewish texts – that will provide a Jewish frame and additional insights into the character trait (middah).
- 8 downloadable chants – one for each module, professionally recorded by Cantor Julia Cadrain with Elana Arian or Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, to help you integrate the character trait (middah) into your life through music.
- Downloadable handouts for each module – so you can reference these teachings anytime.
- Additional resources for each middah, including poems and playlists.
- A personal online journal – your own personal space to record your reflections.
- Online study/practice partners – so you can share your experience with like-minded others on a similar path.
Also, To Guide You Through Awareness in Action during the Omer…
Weekly, Live Online Sessions
Hosted by Rabbi Marc Margolius with Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife, and Rabbi Aaron Weininger as facilitators
3:00 – 4:15 PM ET
Wednesdays, April 10, 17, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5
Tuesday, June 11
Awareness in Action
Meet the course instructors:
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Rabbi Marc Margolius directs programming for lay leaders and alumni of the IJS clergy leadership training program, as well as the Tikkun Middot Project, which integrates Jewish mindfulness with middot (character trait) practice. He hosts IJS’s daily mindfulness meditation sessions and teaches an online program, Awareness in Action: Cultivating Character through Mindfulness and Middot. Previously, Marc served as rabbi at West End Synagogue in Manhattan.
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein is a master teacher of Jewish-based mindfulness practices. She first came to IJS as a participant in the rabbinic leadership program and meditation teacher training. She served as the Executive Director of IJS, where, in addition to management responsibilities, she also taught at retreats and meditation programs. Educated at Brown University and Hebrew Union College, she previously served as the director of Hillel of San Diego, where she was recognized as an “Exemplar of Excellence.” Lisa She lives in New York City with her husband and foster son.
Rabbi Tamara Cohen
Rabbi Tamara Cohen is an educator and liturgist who has been using innovative ritual and feminist creative practice to bring Jews and their fellow travelers into deeper connection with themselves, their communities, Judaism and the Sacred, for over twenty-five years. As a partnered queer white anti-racist parent of two boys and a senior leader at Moving Traditions, a national organization that works to support the thriving of Jewish adolescents and their families, she brings a keen awareness of the spiritual challenges and blessings of daily life for people who care for others within their own families while also being engaged in and committed to the need for the larger systemic changes that would make care and repair easier to center and access. Tamara’s writing can be found in The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Feminist Haggadah, Siddur Lev Shalem and ritualwell.org. She is blessed to live with her family at the edge of Carpenter’s Woods in Philadelphia.
Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife
Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife (she/they pronouns) sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. She serves as Oreget Kehilah (Executive Director) of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, Founding Kohenet of Kesher Pittsburgh and Program Director of the ALEPH Kesher Fellowship and also enjoys working with Keshet and Beloved Builders. Additionally, she delights in serving as a davennatrix (shlichat tzibbur), life spiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, teacher, facilitator, liturgist and songstress. Her work in these realms is informed by her lived experience as a queer, bi-racial, Jewish Woman, her belief that Book, Body and Earth are equal sources of wisdom, and the quandries she encounters as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School. Keshira received Kohenet smicha in 2017 and earned her BS 2000 and MS 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University. After many years of traveling and living in Australia, she and her beloved once again make their home on Osage and Haudenosaunee land, also called Pittsburgh, PA.
Rabbi Aaron Weininger
Rabbi Aaron Weininger joined Adath Jeshurun Congregation in 2012, upon receiving rabbinic ordination and an MA in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. Aaron earned his BA at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007 he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement of Judaism. That experience taught him the power of listening at the margins rather than pulling people into whatever the center is at that moment, and he is attuned to the spark each person brings to Torah, prayer, and acts of kindness in the warmth of community.
Meet the musicians and vocalists:
Musician and Vocalist
Cantor Julia Cadrain
Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
Musician and Vocalist
About the Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Since 1999, IJS has been a leader in teaching traditional and contemporary Jewish spiritual practices that cultivate mindfulness so that each of us might act with enriched wisdom, clarity, and compassion. These practices, grounded in Jewish values and thought, enable participants to develop important skills while strengthening leadership capacities, deepening their inner lives, and connecting more meaningfully with others, Judaism, and the sacred.