The Institute for Jewish Spirituality presents Awareness in Action
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality presents Awareness in Action
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality presents Awareness in Action

A New IJS Online Program
Open to All

Registration Is Now Closed

Are you curious about Jewish spirituality and practice — what they are, and how they might benefit you? Prepare yourself for the Jewish New Year by joining the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in a brand-new introductory program for those who would like to dip their toes into the nurturing and generative waters of Jewish spirituality.

This four-week online course is for you, whether you are brand new to mindfulness and spirituality or a longtime spiritual seeker. It is especially meaningful for those looking for an introduction to personal and spiritual growth.

We hope you will join us during the month of Elul, the Hebrew month leading into the High Holidays. The theme of this month is teshuvah, usually translated as repentance but actually connoting “return.” Teshuvah can be understood as a process of repairing harms done, yet it also represents a process of awakening and returning to our spiritual core.

Awaken: Essential Jewish Mindfulness will support you in this process by helping you:

        • Become more attuned to your inner life
        • Experience yourself as an innately divine being connected to a loving universe
        • Develop habits of heart, mind, and body that support your capacity to self-regulate and thrive
        • Learn foundational skills for cultivating and developing a personal Jewish spiritual practice grounded in mindfulness

You will explore all of this in the context of a safe and supportive community of fellow seekers to hold you in the fullness of your humanity as you learn principles and practices of Jewish spirituality.

The course is grounded in four, live, weekly practice sessions and led by a trio of talented IJS teachers — Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, Rebecca Schisler, and Michal Fox Smart. Recordings of the live sessions will be available for all participants.

Learning and practice is sustained and deepened through:

        • Brief readings to prepare for each live session
        • Guided practice instructions, available in audio and written format
        • Weekly reflection questions to support you in processing and integrating key learnings and insights
        • A discussion forum moderated by the course instructors
        • Daily inspirational emails to support your practice and focus your intentions
        • The option of working with a practice partner 
        • Email access to the teachers

Live Weekly Zoom Practice Sessions meet from 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM ET on the following dates:


      • Tuesdays, September 6, 13, 20
      • Wednesday, September 28

Awaken: Essential Jewish Mindfulness

Meet your instructors:

Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

As Senior Core Faculty at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith directs the Clergy Leadership Program and teaches on the faculty of a variety of IJS programs. Previously, he taught Judaic Studies at Chicagoland Jewish High School, Illinois, and the Heschel School in NY, where he spearheaded initiatives to foster teen spirituality, mindfulness, and wellness. He is a co-founder of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, a center for contemplative Jewish learning and living. He served as a Kol Tzedek Fellow for American Jewish World Service, volunteering in Cambodia with their Volunteer Corps.

Michal Fox Smart

As Chief Program Officer, Michal is responsible for developing and delivering all of IJS’s programs, guiding the work of the faculty while envisioning ways to grow and deepen our offerings. Michal has crafted ground-breaking programs in personal and spiritual development for over 30 years. She previously served as Director of Ayeka North America, Executive Director of the Isabella Freedman retreat center, and co-founded the Teva Outdoor Learning Center. Michal is a graduate of Princeton and Cornell, a Wexner Graduate Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar. She co-authored Spirit in Nature and Kaddish: Women’s Voices.

Rebecca Schisler

Rebecca is a meditation teacher, artist, and Jewish educator. She has sat intensive retreats in the US and abroad for over a decade, and has trained with Mindful Schools and the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. She has led groups and retreats with Or HaLev, Awakened Heart Project, Orot, Wilderness Torah, Pardes, and Mindful Life Project. She was previously the Director of Student Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel, and co-authored the Mahloket Matters Schools Curriculum with the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. She is a student rabbi at ALEPH and recently joined IJS as a Core Faculty member.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


IJS bases its work upon seven core values. These include: 

      • Diversity and Integrity (Shivim Panim): We recognize that all Jews, within their particular identities, inherit and contribute to a shared, living Torah. We respect the integrity of diverse spiritual traditions and seek to deepen our Jewish practice by learning from their wisdom. 
      • Inclusion and Equity (Tzedek u’Mishpat): Our practice helps us grow in awareness of our biases, limitations, and intersecting identities and privileges. We aspire to support every person in nurturing their expression of spiritual life.

As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible, welcoming, and affirming of your humanity. Please email us at [email protected].

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.