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In relation to God, our fellow human beings, nature and ourselves, Shalom restores healing/growth/ wholeness/harmony in all dimensions. This phenomenon requires our paying close attention to the transitional doorways that link the four worlds, utilizing material, emotional, intellectual and spiritual energies to effect change. The medieval alchemists and kabbalists understood the power of Transformation, through ritual moments, spiritual creativity. This power is real and still resonates in our time. When we act, armed with the proper spiritual formulas, then ignorance is transformed into wisdom, weakness into strength, spiritual desolation into hope. Join us in a hands-on, interactive, mystical journey to the other side of the doorway.

Hazzan Steve Klaper is a Jewish troubadour – a spiritual storyteller, minstrel and teacher. An ordained Cantor, Maggid (spiritual storyteller and preacher) and teacher of Torah, Steve draws upon his Orthodox Jewish roots and over 40 years experience as a professional musician, infusing traditional Jewish teachings with mystical chant and melodies, sacred tales and wisdom from a variety of traditions. His teaching is engaging and contemporary – yet reminiscent of an ancient time and place that feels somehow familiar.

Brother Al Mascia, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of the St. John the Baptist Province. He has spent over 30 years ministering to the poor, disenfranchised and homeless, and has taught classes in adult faith formation and performed his story-songs and ballads of the street for audiences large and small; is the recipient of several community service awards and the subject of numerous video feature stories. The Franciscan heritage is a veritable treasure trove of poetic, imaginative and lyrical ways of preaching and living the Gospel; through teaching, singing and outreach efforts, Brother Al stays connected to this ancient spiritual narrative.

Mary Gilhuly has over 25 years experience in creating and coordinating art projects and pieces large and small. She has completed commissioned mosaic installations for diverse groups and congregations, and leads classes, workshops and community art programs for adults, children and families, working in a variety of mediums. In addition to directing the Art-in-Action tile volunteers, Mary works closely with Steve and Brother Al in planning and coordinating Song and Spirit interfaith presentations and programs.  

The archetype of The Wounded Healer points us towards the path of becoming whole in order to become healers. This wondrous path leads us through self-awareness, self-compassion and compassion for all the world to becoming a healing presence- radiant, whole and available to the God-light that will shine through our unique refraction.

We will transform the idea of Tikkun Olan from one of FIXING a world that is broken, to one of HEALING a world that we love. 

We will reclaim the parts of ourselves that have been split off in moments of trauma, and release the residue of shame and alienation that keeps us from connecting with Unity Consciousness.

Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal and received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z”l). She is the director of C-DEEP, The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. She teaches workshops and retreats on the theory and art of Chanting, Devotional Healing, Spiritual Community-Building and Meditation.

Rabbi Shefa composes and performs spiritual music, has produced ten albums, and her liturgies have been published in several new prayerbooks. She is the author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land and In the Fever of Love: An Illumination of The Song of Songs, both published by Ben Yehuda Press. Her latest book, published by Jewish Lights, is The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love.

By combining her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Native American spiritual traditions, Rabbi Shefa is uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion.

Jewish contemplative practices offer a direct way to wholeness and reconnection to one’s own heart space. From this place it is more possible to do the reconnecting in worldly ways that is so needed. The kabbalistic basis for Tikkun Olam rests in the need to repair a basic rift in the Godhead that occurred in the story of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. About that rift the Zohar says that speech went into exile from voice. It is possible to see in this Torah story the origin of the sense of separation that comes because of the origin of conceptual thinking in the species Homo Sapiens which led to the entry of Human Beings into the world.

In this class we will explore the power of a Jewish contemplative practice to reverse the process and be able to see our own lives and the world in a new loving empowered way. This renewal can help us in opening to the ways to bring more harmony into our day-to-day world. The class will be both didactic and experiential. We will cover the basic tools of heartfulness/mindfulness as well as concentration practice needed to develop a more steady sense of witnessing the unfolding of our own heart/mind process. It is possible to become the witness to one’s own thinking rather than the thinker and from that place it becomes possible to awaken from preconceived notions of reality as well as to feel directly connected to the Unfolding of Being (one way of expressing the essence of the Yud, Hay Vav, hay).

The class will include various practices for recognizing a four-fold approach to direct experience of the Divine including breath, prayer, mantra, chant, bodily sensation and offering of blessings. Rabbi Roth will be available for individual session with every student outside of class time.

Rabbi Jeff Roth, D.Min., M.S.W. is the founder and Director of The Awakened Heart Project for Contemplative Judaism. He has led over 190 meditation retreats over the last 20 years. He was the co-founder of Elat Chayyim, the Jewish Spiritual Retreat Center, where he served as Executive Director and Spiritual Director for 13 years. He is the author of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life and Me, Myself and God. He is currently on the faculty of the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training program.He was ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as well as by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He lives with his family in the Hudson River Valley.

Naomi and Elimelech flee desperate conditions at home. Their sons intermarry. Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, becomes an immigrant in turn. A stranger in a potentially hostile city, she applies both strength and ingenuity to protect her Israelite mother-in-law – recreating halakha in the process.

The Book of Ruth describes the fears, hopes, and desperate attempts of immigrants to find both home and identity. It also portrays immigrants actively engaging – even changing the society they’ve adopted as their own. Our class will also explore present-day immigrant stories and current data around immigration. How does the Book of Ruth speak directly to the concerns today’s immigrants face? How does it suggest action? How can looking at the Torah of the Book of Ruth offer Torah for our times?

This course is open to all Ruach Ha'Aretz participants, AND can be taken for credit in the ALEPH Ordinations Program. Follow up sessions will be required and scheduled for one unit of credit to be earned in Tanakh. Smicha students will be asked to look at three additional books of Tanakh: Esther, the Song of Songs, and Lamentations. Class themes will include the immigrant, the oppressed, and the abused minority in these “feminine” books.

The full syllabus and dates for follow up sessions will be sent to those registering for this option Additional tuition ($450) applies.

Rabbi Dr. Barbara Shulamit Thiede teaches Tanakh, Judaism and Jewish history, the Holocaust and the history of European anti-Semitism in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Charlotte and, most recently, in the ALEPH ordination program. She directs the Judaic-Islamic Studies Minor at UNCC, serves Temple Or Olam, the first Jewish Renewal congregation in North Carolina as spiritual leader, and blogs at In her spare time (!), she creates ritual wear sold on Etsy at Not My Brother’s Kippah. She was ordained by ALEPH in 2011 as a rabbi and in 2012 as a mashpi’ah ruchanit.

Shulamit has been teaching with unabatable passion and joy for over thirty years. She has a husband she adores, a son and daughter-in-law she adores, and a cat, Beowulf, who adores her husband and son (and has yet to judge the daughter-in-law).

In shaping an array of forms of prayer, how do we change the framework and the language if we put the relationship between adamah and adam (Earth and human earthling) at the center?

This course will include transforming God-language (e.g. YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh as Ruach ha’olam, Eyn ha’chayyim); framing marker-moments in the festival cycle and the life cycle in earth-connection terms; elevating some moments of existing Jewish prayer forms into greater awareness and focus (e.g. 2d paragraph of Sh’ma, Nishmat, certain psalms); examining parshiot-hashavua with an eye to their bearing on earth-connection; and the creation of prayerful public action as an approach to grass-roots protest or advocacy (e.g Tu B’Shvat in an endangered redwood forest, Hoshana Rabbah on the banks of a poisoned Hudson River, Tisha B’Av on the US Capitol steps after the BP oil blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico).

There will be a major element of practicum in this course — pairs of students will actually prepare a prayer service for a specific Shabbat or yontif or public action.

This course is open to all Ruach Ha'Aretz participants, AND can be taken for credit in the ALEPH Ordinations Program. Follow up sessions will be required and scheduled for one unit of credit to be earned in Liturgy or Kli Kodesh. The full syllabus and dates for follow up sessions will be sent to those registering for this option Additional tuition ($450) applies.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D., founded (1983) and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in the Jewish, multireligious, and American worlds for justice, peace, and healing of the Earth. . In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as Human Rights Hero from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2015 the Forward named him one of the “most inspiring” US Rabbis. He has written 24 books — some on US foreign, military, & energy policy; many on religious thought & practice: most recently (with Rabbi Phyllis Berman) Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus & Wilderness Across Millennia and The Loooong Narrow Pharaoh and the Midwives Who Gave Birth to Freedom (an illustrated book). See also his pioneering essay, “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013). He has been arrested about 23 times in protest actions for peace, racial justice, and healing from the climate crisis. 

This inspiring program for spiritual growth as Sages, offers initiation into the inner and outer transformations of consciousness that help us harvest the fruits of our spiritual eldering and to live joyfully on our holy, enlightening journey on this sacred planet. As sages we can transform the world as we transform ourselves.

Building on the teachings of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z'l, our transformative Sage-ing Tools are rooted in Jewish practices as well as the wisdom of other traditions and contemplative mind sciences. And we learn how to turn it all into sage blessings for wholeness and peace. Harvesting the wisdom of our life experience, we learn from facing our mortality, mature in our relationships, develop a regenerative spirit and find ourselves drawn to take active leadership roles as honored elders in our communities and society.

Join us in this intergenerational workshop as we offer presentations intertwined with journal writing exercises, study texts, share stories, chant, and experience interactive and individual meditations. And we'll learn how to integrate what appear as obstacles to our being clear channels for shefa, holy creative energy. That can be the biggest blessing of all!

This course may serve as a pre-requisite (Part One) for the Sage-ing Mentorship Program.

Bahira Sugarman and Rabbi Shaya Isenberg are co-founders and co-directors of the ALEPH Sage-ing Mentorship Program and senior faculty emeriti of the Spiritual Eldering Institute where, at Reb Zalman’s z”l request, they designed and implemented its leadership training program. They have been leading life transforming Sage-ing Workshops for three decades while teaching and living the couple relationship as a spiritual path for even more years. 

Reb Shaya is past Chair of the Department of Religion, Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida, where he taught courses in Jewish Mysticism, comparative spirituality and religion and science. Co-founder and past Co-director of UF’s Center for Spirituality and Health, Rabbi Emeritus and Co-leader with Bahira for Gainesville, Florida’s P’nai Or, he serves on the faculty of the ALEPH Ordinations and Spiritual Directions Programs. He is licensed as a Massage Therapist and has been initiated as a Traditional Reiki Master.

Bahira, in her 22nd year as a Traditional Reiki Master, is ordained as a spiritual guide by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z'l and has been celebrated as an Eyshet Hazon (Woman of Vision) v’Rofet Neshamot (healer of souls) by the ALEPH International Community. She is retired as Co-leader of Gainesville P’nai Or and as a licensed clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist. Licensed as a Massage Therapist, she teaches Reiki and T’ai Chi Chuan and is renowned for her transpersonal and healing work. Both Rabbi Shaya and Reb Bahira have been celebrated as Pioneers by Sage-ing International and are members of Sage-ing Internnational Council of Honored Sages. 

Creativity is part of revelation. As we tap into our own sources of creativity we tap into the universal source of all creativity and we and those we touch are forever transformed.

Behind every major biblical story is an untold story. Every verse of Torah or Tefillah has unsung melodies waiting to be written.

Stories and songs are ways we can explore the emotional lives and lyrical depths of bibilical narratives and verses to create our own divray torah that may transform our understanding of foundational texts.

For example: What was Yiftach’s daughter’s life like? (What did she dream?) Who were Nadav and Avihu’s friends? How did Tsipora feel about Moses’s experiences?

What melody would you sing to the words l’taken olam b’malchut shaddai?

In this class you are invited to bring in your suggestions of your favorite stories and verses as both individually and collectively we will tell the untold story and write the unsung song.

Cantor Linda Hirschhorn is a performing singer/songwriter/composer and story-teller. She travels around the country working with or creating community choruses. She has released 10 recordings of original songs and published hundreds of songs that have been covered by other artists, used in movies, choreographed by dance companies and sung in synagogues throughout the world. Linda has been the Cantor at Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro for since 1987. Her women's a cappella ensemble Vocolot celebrated its 25th anniversary in November of 2012.

How is healing a dance, and how does embodied expression contribute to healing through all the Worlds? In this class, we’ll awaken new pathways of internal integration (tikkun ha-nefesh) as a means of exploring and enhancing the healing movements to which our world is calling us (tikkun ha-olam). Through Body-Mind Centering®, improvisational dance, and Authentic Movement, we’ll mine key passages of Torah for their healing wisdom, holding this question: how can we creatively manifest this wisdom in our lives and in our communities? All levels of movement and Torah experience are welcome.

Rabbi Diane Elliot, based in the Bay Area, is a spiritual teacher, ritual leader, dancer, writer, and somatic therapist who inspires her students to become clearer channels for Presence through awareness and movement practices, chant, and nuanced interpretations of Jewish sacred text. She directs ALEPH’s Embodying Spirit, En-spiriting Body leadership training program. To learn more about her and her work, visit

In this workshop, we’ll work with Jewish elemental rituals for healing and shielding, including amulets; water rituals; drum, chant, and sound healing; the uttering and changing of names; and the invocation of dream guardians and ancestor guides. We’ll invoke the energies of earth, water, air, and fire as we learn and create healing ceremony together. Our matron for this work will be Miriam the prophetess, who in diverse Jewish sources is associated with the healing technologies we will encounter in our sessions.

Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D., is the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute (, and the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion ( She is the author or co-author of eight books, including The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership, Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook, and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries. She is a ritualist, a poet, a scholar, and an essayist, and the translator of the new Romemu siddur. Her work has been published in anthologies, journals, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Manhattan with her wife and daughter.

Taya Shere is co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute and co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient & New Visions of Jewish Women's Spiritual Leadership & Siddur HaKohanot: A Priestess Prayerbook. Her chant albums Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night, Torah Tantrika & This Bliss have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” Taya teaches transformative ritual at Starr King School for the Ministry, is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and co-leads Makam Shekhina, a multi-religious Jewish / Sufi community. Taya mentors emergent spiritual leaders in embodied presence and counter-oppressive devotion in the Bay Area and beyond.

Shoshana Jedwab is a composer and singer of sacred Jewish global feminist music, hand-drummer, drum circle leader, ritual facilitator and award winning Jewish educator. Shoshana recently released her debut album, “I Remember,” available at: . Shoshana Jedwab is the Middle School Jewish Life Coordinator at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, where she has taught Jewish Studies for over a quarter of a century. Shoshana serves as founding faculty member of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute and is a musician at Congregation Romemu. Shoshana leads healing and empowering drumming and chanting events for bereavement groups, synagogues, Hebrew Schools, JCCs, and multi-faith political and private gatherings. She lives in NYC across from Central Park with her daughter, Raya Leela, and partner, Rabbi Jill Hammer.

Bring curiosity, attention, pen and paper, and join me in study, discussion, and practice to become a healing force in all the worlds. We will explore means of inner transformation, as changing our consciousness indirectly impacts the world around us. Our active engagement in the world is more powerful if our motivation, or kavanah, has been refined by our inner work.

Inner and outer work are crucial for these times. We are bombarded daily with activating, fearful scenarios. Together we’ll develop a self-care plan that nurtures our innermost being–a plan we must implement daily to remain centered while doing outer work of social change. We will identify ways to seek sacred refuge, naming the inner and outer resources from which we receive help and support.

Both Judaism and Tibetan Buddhism teach us that we exist in multiple worlds, or multiple levels of consciousness simultaneously. Ancient Indigenous healing practices worldwide are based on similar concepts. As Reb Zalman explained, Hasidic Judaism teaches about four worlds. Tibetan Buddhist teachings place great emphasis on the three worlds. We will discuss the similarities briefly. 

Our investigations will look more closely at the Buddhist understanding of the three worlds of formlessness, desire, and form. We will delve into the meaning of these three realms and directly experience the fluidity between these worlds. We will do practices together that provide means for different entry points for transformational work.

A prayerful intention has developed from my spiritual practice over the last several years. “I will ask for help, I will be receptive and alert for evidence that help has been given, and I will be the help for others.” Let us support each other in finding our answers to Hillel’s famous questions: “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”

Dr. Rachael Wooten has been in private practice as a psychologist and Jungian analyst for forty years. Raised in the Methodist church, Rachael and her family had close intergenerational ties with members of the thriving Jewish community in Eastern North Carolina. Christian and Jewish studies have continued to be a life-long interest for Rachael. She is a founding member of Yavneh, the Jewish Renewal community of Raleigh and has been a member of an American Baptist church for twenty-five years. As a former Outward Bound instructor and life-long lover of the natural world, she studied and participated in ritual practices of the Oglala Lakota Sioux. Rachael has been studying, practicing, leading meditation groups and retreats, and writing about the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana tradition for more than two decades. She has concentrated on the Divine Feminine as an analyst and spiritual teacher. Rachael has recently completed a book, The Twenty-One Taras: Healing Practices to Transform Your Suffering and Repair the World. Commentary and instructions for meditation practice make the teachings accessible to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Our greatest Jewish philosophers agree: Spirituality begins in wonder. But what is wonder? An appreciation of the marvels of creation, as Rambam says? An awareness of God’s vastness, as Ibn Gabirol says? A crack in everyday, practical, materialist thinking, as Heschel says? A sense of humility in the face of the Other, as Levinas says? We’ll explore these four definitions by studying the philosophers’ own words, filtering them through our own life experiences, and weaving them into an approach to spiritual perception.

This course is open to all Ruach Ha'Aretz participants, AND can be taken for credit in the ALEPH Ordinations Program. Follow up sessions will be required and scheduled for one unit of credit to be earned in Jewish Thought. A final assignment will also be due. 

The full syllabus and dates for follow up sessions will be sent to those registering for this option Additional tuition ($450) applies.

Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan is Director of Inter-Religious Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology, core faculty member at ALEPH Ordinations Programs, Rabbi Emerita of Or Shalom Synagogue, and Professor of Philosophy Emerita at UNC Charlotte. Laura, an award-winning philosophy teacher, brings heart and mind together in her teaching, singing, and writing. Follow her blog at

Teaching Torah is about storytelling, right? It’s also about morality and ethics, yes? And it’s about the mitzvot, the things we do to connect with God. It’s even about a call to social justice work. Can it also be about spirituality? How do we as educators imbue our Torah teaching with spirituality? Join Educating for Spirituality’s Co-Directors, Rabbis Lori Shaller and Rain Zohav, as we dive into Torah physically, emotionally, through expanded consciousness and with spirit. Learn techniques to bring en-spirited Torah to your students:

  • Improvisational theater
  • Chant and song
  • Visual art
  • Guided imagery
  • Alternative forms of text study
  • Social justice action

This intensive is for clergy, educators and seminarians.

This course is open to all Ruach Ha'Aretz participants, AND can be taken for credit in the ALEPH Ordinations Program. Follow up sessions will be required and scheduled for one unit of credit to be earned in Kli Kodesh. The full syllabus and dates for follow up sessions will be sent to those registering for this option. Additional tuition ($450) applies.

Educating for Spirituality Co-Directors Rabbis Lori Shaller and Rain Zohav were both ordained by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2015. They have forty years of experience between them engaging students in meaningful and lasting educational experiences.

Rabbi Lori Shaller was also ordained as a Spiritual Director in 2014 by ALEPH. She leads interfaith clergy spiritual direction groups and sees individuals in spiritual direction; teaches, and facilitates Jewish life cycle celebrations. She has earned Master’s Degrees in American Jewish History and Social Studies Education. She taught high school students English and History for twenty years, and has been a curriculum writer and teacher of teachers in English and World History, as well as in Jewish History, for fifteen years. Her curriculum on Jewish Women in the Labor Movement was published by the Jewish Women’s Archive. She also has curriculum published on the Truah: The Rabbinic Call to Justice website.

Rabbi Rain was ordained as a Rabbi in 2015 by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She has taught in a variety of religious schools, creating curriculum and programming, as well as teaching in religious schools. Rabbi Rain earned a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College, where she earned awards in Biblical and Jewish Studies. She is a regular contributor to the Washington Jewish Week's D'Var Torah section and has written a blog post on Tikkun, Dec. 30, "Lessons from Standing Rock". She currently serves as Rabbi and Spiritual Advisor to the Interfaith Families Project of Greater Washington, DC

(see below for eligibility*)In this weeklong full-day Lifecycle Ceremony Practicum training course (two 3-hour sessions – morning and afternoon – with evening preparation) we will work with the rituals and ceremonies associated with end of life, and birth/entering the covenant.

*This course is designed for rabbis, cantors, rabbinic pastors, and students in these fields, and presumes reasonable familiarity with normative Jewish customs and liturgies for the featured life cycle events. ALEPH Ordination Program students should have taken the LifeCycle Liturgy course or equivalent. Ordained clergy and students from other recognized seminaries can register with permission of the instructor, and are presumed to have taken their seminary’s equivalent course. Exceptions are admitted with permission of the instructor. Expect preparatory reading and assignments.

For ALEPH Ordination Program students, this course is one of the two required intensive practica, which are held during the ALEPH Ruach Ha’Aretz summer retreats.

Part 1: Weddings/Intermarriage/Conversion and
Part 2: Death and Dying, Birth, and Entering the Covenant

In each of these intensive practica we integrate traditional forms and liturgies with new approaches. We explore practical skills, traditional structures, contemporary adaptations, and mystical underpinnings of Jewish ritual tools and skills, and share our own experiences and resources. Employing an intensive master- class "lab" style of learning, we give and receive feedback and are lovingly yet challengingly coached to bring out our best leadership capabilities.

NOTE: Select Lifecycle Training registrant type


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