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 Ten-Month Online Program
Begins in January 2023

A brand-new opportunity to learn with
two of the world’s leading Jewish mindfulness organizations!

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality & Meditation are delighted to bring you a brand-new program – Yesod: Foundations for Deepening Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

Yesod, a ten-month online program, offers anyone with an established meditation practice a new, systematic, stage-by-stage approach to deepen your mindfulness meditation skills within an authentic Jewish spiritual framework.


Registration Is Now Closed

Yesod is for anyone with an established meditation practice

which includes:

At least one year of regular
meditation practice

A desire and commitment to deepen and grow in your Jewish mindfulness practice

Participation in at least one week-long silent mindfulness meditation retreat
*see below for more information

Yesod is the First Year of the Three-Year Gates of Awareness Program

Gates of Awareness: Jewish Mindfulness Meditation: Deepening Practice & Teacher Training is a three-year program designed to support participants to deepen personal practice and develop their capacity and skill as teachers of Jewish mindfulness meditation. 

Please note: Participants may take one, two, or all three years of the program. Admission to years two and three will be determined through an application process.

Year 1

Yesod: Foundations for Deepening Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

Yesod is the foundation (and is required) for the upcoming teacher training programs in Years 2 and 3 of the program.  It is grounded in our belief that your ability to teach skillfully is determined by your depth of practice and understanding.

Year 2

Tiferet: Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training

Tiferet will deepen your practice and understanding while training you in the practical pedagogical skills a leader and teacher of a meditation group needs, including giving meditation talks, developing lessons, guiding meditations, facilitating groups and more.

Year 3

Keter: Advanced Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Retreat Teacher Training

Keter will further deepen your practice and understanding while training you in the particular skills a retreat teacher needs, including meditation meetings with students, building and holding a retreat, advanced meditation practice instructions and more.

Gates of Awareness builds on the spirit of the groundbreaking IJS program, Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training.

More About Yesod

The first year of this program is built around four fundamental “gates” of awareness which we can develop in both understanding and practice:

The Gate of Love
Sha’ar HaHesed

This gate welcomes us into both our own and the world’s sacred essential loving nature. Through developing the ability to respond with softness, gentleness and loving acceptance to our experience, we learn to reduce our reactivity and meet challenging states of mind, heart and body with love and compassion.

The Gate of Joy
Sha’ar HaSimcha

This gate invites us to recognize the inherent goodness and delight of creation and ourselves. We shift from a habitual “what’s wrong mind” oriented to threat and protection, to a “what’s right mind” that enables playfulness and flexibility. We come to recognize that happiness is an inside job, available to us from within if we can release our preoccupation with reaching for something external to fill a void.

The Gate of Holiness
Sha’ar HaKedusha

This gate orients us to divine fullness and teaches us to glimpse our sacred non-separate nature and our natural luminosity. Showing up in the world more naturally and spontaneously we are greater able to respond wisely to the suffering within and without and allow our wholesome passion to flow more freely.

The Gate of Divinity
Sha’ar HaElohut

This gate orients us to divine emptiness and opens up to us the profound vistas of the radically open and empty (ayin) nature of divinity and our soul. Grounded in this insight of boundlessness, wonder, joy, and delight spring forth enabling a lighter and freer way of being in the world. We can show up for ourselves and others in an even more expansive, flexible, and unconstricted way.

Each gate prepares the ground for the succeeding gate and builds on the previous one. By moving through these gates of love, joy, holiness, and divinity and circling back through them, participants will be taken on a progressive course of deepening in their awareness, manifested in both understanding and practice.

Course Structure

There will be 20 live, two-hour online classes. Each class will be held every other week and will integrate texts, theory, and practice.

We will convene twice monthly and, in order to accommodate different schedules, will alternate meetings between Sundays and Mondays.

        • Sunday sessions:  12:30 – 2:30 PM ET
        • Monday sessions: 12:00 – 2:00 PM ET
  • Twenty guided video/audio meditations and teachings
  • An extensive curriculum of Jewish mindfulness texts
  • Continued learning outside of class
    You will be matched with another participant and receive guidance for bi-weekly learning and practice with your partner
  • One virtual Jewish meditation retreat
    Sunday, June 18 – Friday, June 23, 2023 (Previously: Sunday, June 25 – Friday, June 30, 2023)
  • Four day-long retreats deepening key aspects of practice and understanding on the following Sundays:
    March 12, May 21, July 30, and October 15:
    10:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET
  • Three small-group meetings with one of the three faculty members to receive personalized instruction in the development of your practice
  • A discussion forum to encourage continued sharing and exploration outside of class 
  • A certificate of completion in Jewish Mindfulness Training

Your Commitment

Regular attendance at classes and virtual retreats

Viewing the video recording of any class you are not able to attend as soon as possible so you know the practice, instructions, and themes for the next two weeks

Text preparation for each class

Bi-weekly chevruta (partnered learning) to study assigned texts and do assigned practices, as well as reading assigned articles for class

Daily practice of at least 20 minutes a day

A short bi-weekly posting to the Yesod discussion forum about your experience

Goals and Learning Outcomes

  • A systematic framework for the understanding and practice of mindfulness meditation and mindful Jewish living, based in core Jewish mindfulness texts and terminology
  • Key topics in Jewish mindfulness, including the relationship between meditation and other traditional practices
  • Building a community of dedicated practitioners under the guidance of leading teachers in the field
  • Transformational applications, including:
    • Healing your relationship with body, heart, and mind
    • Integrating practices into your daily life
    • Applying meditation to address physical pain, as well as emotional and relational challenges
    • Developing greater calm and equanimity, and reducing stress, anxiety, and anger
    • Widening the heart to cultivate qualities such as love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, awe, and joy

Yesod: Foundations for Deepening Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

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.

Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels

Rav James leads and directs the vision of Or HaLev. Ordained by Rav Daniel Landes, with a doctorate in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago, he has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for over twenty five years. He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Romemu Yeshiva and has taught and innovated programs in Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University, Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study with his practice, and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.

Rabbi Dorothy Richman

Dorothy Richman serves as the rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center and is a founding faculty member of the Romemu Yeshiva, a six-week immersive program of spiritual study and practice. Dorothy’s work centers on the spiritual practices of Torah study, meditation prayer, and justice. She recently released an album of original songs, Something of Mine, largely based on texts from the Jewish tradition, available on BandCamp.

NEW! Silent Retreat Opportunity: January 10 – 15, 2023

If you want to participate in Yesod and have not participated in a one week-long silent meditation retreat, we are excited to announce that Or HaLev and IJS will be running one in Palmer, Massachusetts. Click to learn more about this retreat.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

IJS bases its work upon seven core values, shared by Or HaLev. 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].

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.

Founded in 2011 by Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels, Or HaLev was launched with the goal of giving people access to a deep meditation practice through a cross-denominational approach to Judaism. It is a destination for Jewish mindfulness that creates open and immersive opportunities for deepening spiritual practice across five continents, regardless of prior meditation experience or Jewish background.