She is a Tree of Life: Celebrating our Bodies, our Interconnection, and Tu BiShvat

A Half-Day Dedicated to Embodied Practice

An Online Jewish Mindfulness Retreat

Sunday, January 24, 2021

12:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET

As we bring compassion to our bodies through embodied practices that root us in the present moment, we can experience a sense of renewed life within us. On this half-day retreat, we will engage in somatic movement, yoga, dance, song, artmaking, breathwork, and mindfulness to nurture a loving and expansive relationship with the body.

In celebration of Tu BiShvat, the New Year of the Trees, we will reconnect with the blessing of our organic embodiment and to the lovingkindness that flows like sap through our veins. Together, we will invite the natural goodness and wisdom of our bodies to blossom anew as spring approaches.

In that spirit, please join IJS on Sunday, January 24, 2021, for a half-day of embodied practice. The program cost is $99 and includes a practice track of your choice.


This online retreat is open to everyone – beginners and those with more experience, including alumni of IJS programs.


If you require financial support to participate, please contact [email protected].

Embodied Practice Tracks

Track 1: Honoring the Cycles of Natural Wisdom

Active and Restorative Yoga with Cantor Elizabeth Shammash, Yoga Studio Teacher, IJS
Tu BiShvat reminds us that plants and trees go through natural annual cycles of blooming and dormancy. Each is essential to the other and integral to its overall health and ability to thrive. So too, the body and heart. Working with the embodied practice of yoga in both active and restorative modes, we can access deeper alignment, self-regulation and wisdom within our own bodies and alignment with the natural world of creation, with which we are intertwined.

We can offer ourselves the chesed (lovingkindness) of proper sunlight, air, soil, and water so that we can bloom and serve the world in our fullest capacity. Open to all levels of experience with yoga. Please wear clothes comfortable for yoga practice, and have a yoga mat, a blanket, and any props you may want on hand.

Track 2: A Somatic Artmaking Dream Session

Embodied Liberation with Karen Erlichman
Tu BiShvat follows soon after the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Both of these holidays express a renewed call to expand our embodied capacity to envision and co-create liberation and new life together. How do you hear and respond to that call in your body, your prayer, your action?

Using artmaking, movement, and sacred text study, we will explore the embodied creative impulse as a journey of collective liberation with God and each other, held in the promise of emergent life that the spring season offers. Please bring a spirit of justice, curiosity and some simple art supplies (paper, markers, crayons, pastels, collage materials) for this session. No artmaking skills required.

Track 3: Singing as Embodied Spiritual Practice

Singing Practice with Rabbi Yosef Goldman
Singing comes from an alignment of body and spirit. Hasidic masters think of singing as an expression of the nefesh, the aspect of soul that is bound to and nourishes our physical body. It is the basic animating force of our spiritual being. In this session we will explore the embodied nature of singing, through experiential Torah learning, breathing, and movement, and we will use our voices to awaken the nefesh. Through bringing our attention to the closeness of our nefesh with our bodies, we strive to build a foundation for greater awareness that can arise from embodied living.

Track 4: Attuning to Our Bodies and the Tree of Life

Somatics with Rabbi Myriam Klotz, Senior Program Director, IJS
Somatics is the practice of attuning to your body with awareness and resonance. What is this consciousness that I am, in this particular body? And, what body is it to which I refer? We have a physical body, and we also are part of a cultural body, a planetary and even a sacred cosmic body, all of which help form the “shape” of our selves as we move through time and space.

The Eytz Hayyim, the sacred Tree of Life, is a central image that informs the Jewish body of imagination and spirit. In this session, we will explore our relationship to our aliveness and to the Eytz Hayyim through somatic practices and reflective writing. Please wear clothing comfortable for embodied practice, and have a yoga mat, large towel or blanket nearby.

Track 5: More Than the Eye Can See

Mindfulness of the Body with Rabbi Jonathan Slater, Senior Program Director, IJS
Tu BiShvat is understood to be the season when (approximately) the roots of trees begin to draw up sustenance to produce new leaves, flowers, and seeds. Something is happening underground that we celebrate as if it were happening before our eyes.

That’s how we are, too. There is so much going on under the surface of our bodies that is invisible to others, but which others take for granted as happening. Do we take it for granted, too? We will investigate our connections inside-and-outside through mindfulness meditation and practice.


All times are listed in ET

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Opening Session
We’ll begin our half-day of practice with song, Torah study, and gentle movement. Together, we will step into Tu BiShvat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees.

1:05 PM – 2:50 PM: Individual Tracks
Everyone will devote these two hours to the spiritual, embodied practice of their choice per the five tracks listed above.

2:50 PM – 3:00 PM: Break

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Closing Session
We will close the day as a community, celebrating our interconnection with each other and all life.

Retreat Faculty

Karen Erlichman

Spiritual Director and Psychotherapist

Rabbi Yosef Goldman

Music-Spiritual Artist and Prayer Facilitator

Rabbi Myriam Klotz

Senior Program Director,

Cantor Elizabeth Shammash

Yoga Studio Teacher,

Rabbi Jonathan Slater

Senior Program Director, IJS

For more information, contact us by filling out this form: