For Blessing and Not for Curse

Lisa Goldstein
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
What is the connection between contemplative spiritual practice and the American elections?  I would argue: everything.

Sometimes people characterize contemplative practice as detachment from the outside world and moving inwards for a sense of disinterested calm and ease.  And yet, for all its emphasis on moment-to-moment personal experience, spiritual practice gives us actual encounters with how interconnected we are at the root and how the boundaries that seemly exist between us and others are much more porous that we might initially assume.  The air I am inhaling was in your lungs just a few moments ago; the oxygen in that air was just in your bloodstream.  The word I am praying or studying has been in the mouth of people over thousands of years, each shaping the sounds with their tongues and teeth the same way I do.  Who is actually saying that word now?  The experience can be both subtle and profound.

It is true that "subtle" and "profound" are not words I would associate with our current political climate.  And yet, there too we can see evidence of how the inside and outside are not separate.  The biting anger and mocking glee that we witness daily through all kinds of media gives birth to isolation and self-righteous indignation in our own inner lives.  Who is immune to the anxiety and malaise that fills the air we inhale and exhale?

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  Upcoming Programs:
Rabbbi Jonathan Slater
Tuesday, November 22 at 8pm

Prayer Project Online Intensive Modules: 

Liturgical Prayer: Discovering Our Own Authentic Service
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
Dec. 4 - 30, 2016

Sacred Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love
Rabbi Shefa Gold
Feb. 5 - March 3, 2017

Hitbodedut: Cultivating Spontaneous Conversations with God
Rabbi David Jaffe
March 5 - 31, 2017

Contemplative Jewish Prayer: Presence, Intention, Surrender
Rabbis Nancy Flam and James Jacobson-Maisels
June 4 - 30, 2017
Election Practice on Retreat
By Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell
Jordan Bendat-Appell
This November 6-10, we have our second retreat of the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training.
That's right--we are on silent retreat during the election.
We've had retreats fall during election time before--indeed, our second cohort of the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training took place during the last presidential election. On that retreat, we decided to maintain the silent container during the election and we posted the results the next day (with a paper flap covering the results so those who wanted to wait until after the retreat could avoid seeing the results). However, this year is different. This year, so many of us are experiencing a pervasive feeling of anxiety concerning the election. The stakes simply feel higher.
Consequently, this year, we have decided to bring the election more explicitly into the framework of the retreat in order to experience the election night through the lens of our practice. At first glance, it might seem dissonant to bring an election with all of its emotion, spin, and hype into the retreat experience. However, at the Institute we have the conviction that if our practice is going to be real, it must be accessible and operative in real life--no matter what the circumstances.

Room for Savlanut: November 8th, 9th and Beyond
b y Rabbi David Jaffe

As I stepped into the voting booth in my town hall this morning, I was struck by two competing emotions: one familiar, the other strange and disturbing. 
The familiar feeling was joy, gratitude at being able to vote.  I've traveled in parts of the world governed by dictatorship or democracies in name only and know what a privilege it is to participate in this historic experiment in government by the people.  Bec hira, Choice, is the capacity that makes us most God-like.  Exercising this ability to choose by voting is a public act of holiness.  To mark this moment I said a spontaneous prayer of thanks before coloring in the little oval circles on my ballot. 
On the heels of this gratitude came the strange and disturbing: a feeling of dread.  We are in the final moments of the most bruising presidential election campaign in memory.  The intensity of the personal attacks, the violent rhetoric at some campaign rallies, and the raw expression of rage present in the national conversation these past months leave me deeply unsettled no matter which candidate wins.  Over twenty years of hyper-polarizing politics, growing gaps between haves and have nots and our fragmented news media have created a country in need of healing at a more fundamental level than partisan politics can address.  What might this healing entail?

The Institute is Hiring!

The Institute is seeking a talented Development Director with significant experience in fundraising, donor relations, and database management to join our team and help us work toward our mission and vision. Responsibilities will include maintaining relationships with prospective and current donors capable of making major gifts, as well as coordinating fundraising campaigns and developing Board relations. We are also in search of a part-time Grant Writer to help research foundations that match specific projects and programs as well as write and develop grant proposals.

Check out the job postings here--we would love to hear from you!

Text Study 5777 is Here!

Join in the expanding circle of those who share in the profound and spiritually uplifting world of Torah study with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Enrich yourself, deepen your experience of Torah study and expand the sources from which you teach by participating in the Institute's text study program. Join us in mining these sources for useful and powerful teachings, informed by a contemplative, mindfulness-based approach.

We are excited to be offering two text study options; sign up for text study this year with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, or both!

The cost for the program is $240 for either program, or $450 for both.
Student Rate: $50 for either program, or $75 for both.
The first five weeks of the 5777 will be offered free of charge to the entire Institute community. Keep an eye on your inbox! 

Jewish Meditation Group Network : Building Communities of Practice  Webinar Series
from Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell Jordan Bendat-Appell
The Jewish Meditation Group Network (formerly  V'asu Li Mikdash)  is an initiative of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality dedicated to supporting all those who teach, lead or organize Jewish Meditation groups-- as well as for those who hope to begin groups. 

Our next webinar:

Mindfulness and Middot: A Neo-Hasidic Approach 
Rabbi Jonathan Slater
Tuesday, November 22 at 8pm ET

Please note that space for the live webinar is limited to 100 participants, so don't wait! The webinar will be made available for download after the live webinar has concluded. 

Open to everyone!

Cost: Free of charge

Missed one of our previous webinars? Visit the Jewish Meditation Group Network page on our website to download full recordings.