1. How do you experience your spiritual life? Where do you turn to nurture it?
2. Describe some of the greatest challenges to your spiritual life and how you might work with them.
3. How do you see yourself as a spiritual guide for others?
4. How do you think this program might help you in your personal and professional life?
5. How do you see yourself as a change agent in your community? You might wish to address any or all of these areas (and any others you think apply): personal transformation, communal culture, the governance of the organization, institutional change, communal change.
6. During the course of the program we will be studying a variety of Jewish texts, in Hebrew (with English translations), in groups and with a havruta partner. Do you have any reservations about engaging in this form of study?
7. During the course of the program we will engage in singing as personal spiritual practice, in prayer and in groups (large and small). Do you have any reservations about engaging in this form of practice?
The role of Jewish spiritual leaders is becoming more complex and demanding, as the needs of the community, and the world at large, become more urgent. These leaders are charged with developing and maintaining Jewish identity and engagement, as well as addressing such global issues as climate change and socio-economic inequality. In response, we need a new quality of leadership: people grounded in spiritual practice, rooted in awareness of interconnection, interdependence and the trust that change in an individual can catalyze transformation more broadly - interpersonally, institutionally and systemically. Dedicated spiritual practice helps religious leaders develop qualities of equanimity, joy, love and compassion, as well as a sustained commitment to justice and righteousness. Such mindful leaders, drawing on the richness of the Jewish mystical and spiritual tradition, more skillfully address and engage the dimension of soul as a key force for personal and global transformation. Through their own practice, these spiritual leaders access an inner well of calm and clarity, confidence, strength and gratitude that nourishes and sustains them in their work, in service to the broader community.
The Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality invites you – cantors and rabbis – to join the more than 400 other Jewish professionals who have studied with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality to develop their spiritual practice and mindful leadership. The Program offers 40 rabbis and cantors an immersive, practice-based approach to deepen their own spiritual lives and the spiritual life of the Jewish community. Practice-based spirituality returns the full vitality of body, heart, mind and soul to the highly intellectualized, privatized and fragmented Judaism of today. Through this unique learning experience, participants refine the teaching and guidance they provide for Jews seeking spiritual growth and insight. Grounded in their own contemplative practice, they serve more mindfully as leaders and participate more skillfully in revitalizing Jewish living.
The shared participation of cantors and rabbis in this program is itself recognition of the significance of interdependence and interconnection in spiritual life. Each of these Jewish professionals holds a key essential to unlocking the heart. Rabbis – in the main – are teachers who relish sharing the words of our tradition through the study of texts and verbal communication. Cantors – in the main – are teachers who delight in the power of music and song to awaken spiritual awareness. Each is important, yet neither is sufficient in itself. In studying and practicing the expression of both voice and word we may all deepen our capacity for compassion, understanding and creative cooperation.
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program is a retreat-based program of study and practice. Participants live and learn together for four, five-day retreats over the course of eighteen months. Retreats combine prayer, meditation, text study, yoga, group discussion, singing as spiritual practice, and one-on-one guidance with faculty members. The period between retreats is an essential part of the program. Participants continue to learn and grow through sustained practice of mindfulness meditation or yoga, a guided program of weekly havruta study, and regular contact with.faculty.
The program is designed to help participants grow in consciousness and character. One of the most direct paths to consciousness is through contemplative practice. From the end of the evening activities through the next day’s lunch, participants hold themselves and each other in a community of silent reflection. This contemplative attitude prevails even while engaging in the day’s activities including voiced prayer, mindfulness meditation, yoga, singing and text study.
In addition to its emphasis on the cultivation of participants' personal awareness, insight, knowledge and skills, the program aims to help participants refine their abilities to teach and lead others who seek similar growth and development. As both cantors and rabbis are leaders of prayer, a key focus of the program will be on deepening prayer as a personal spiritual practice. Deepening our connection to our own prayer practice will provide the foundation for our further investigation of the discipline of leading prayer for and with others. Once participants complete the eighteen-month program, membership in the Institute’s Hevraya community of alumni which offers opportunities to sustain their spiritual practice, supporting them to best enable the spiritual growth of the Jews we serve.