April e-letter 
Greetings!

Thank you for joining us this month!  We'll tell you where you can catch Sheila Weinberg reading from her new book, Surprisingly Happy; bring you up to date on our newest cohort - the Jewish Meditation Teacher Training Program; and share with you spiritual practices for Counting the Omer.
Counting the Omer

Podcasts: We offer practice based podcasts (both meditation and embodied practice) for the Omer period; our most recent podcast is The Spiritual Journey of Divine Compassion by Rabbi Marc Margolius [4/21/10].

The seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot are marked by ritually counting each day. Counting the Omer (so named for the grain offering brought to the Temple at Shavuot) offers us an opportunity to examine seven of our inner qualities (middot) and the way they interrelate. The seven aspects (associated with the s'firot and middot) are:
 
Chesed - lovingkindness [week 1]
G'vurah - restraint, discipline [week 2]
Tiferet - balance, harmony, compassion [week 3]
Netzach - endurance, victory [week 4]
Hod - humility, yielding [week 5]
Yesod - bonding [week 6]
Malchut - nobility, leadership [week 7]
 
We are currently in the week of Netzach, focusing on the inner quality of endurance, and how it manifests in our lives. "Envision the person you long to be, envision the world you long to live in and walk toward these visions with all your strength", writes Rabbi Yael Levy of Netzach in A Journey Through the Wilderness: Counting the Omer, A Spiritual Guide. The strength and ability to continue to walk our paths, even with life's inevitable setbacks, is essential. 

This middah is essentially about continuing on the path despite inevitable and temporary setbacks and struggles, and growing strong in the ability to summon the resiliency to do so. Netzach is that confidence which enables us to find the willingness and conviction to trust life, to find goodness and meaning in our practices, and to continue on the journey with our hearts open and our bodies willing, infused with the vision and certainty that Netzach provides. In the words of the psalmist, "Even though I walk through the valley of darkness, I will not fear, for You are with me." (Psalm 23)

Seek to connect with the quality of Netzach this week as you focus on living with intention, confidence, and the capacity to stay in alignment with your most noble and wholesome visions for your own life and transformation, for your family, for your students now and in the future, for the world. When you lose your balance and fall out of Netzach energy, pause, take a breath, and come right back.

There are numerous resources available on practices for counting the Omer, including Rabbi Jacobson's website and book, the new counting journal The 50th Gate, and Counting the Omer:  A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide.
Reminder: Register for the Lay Retreat
July 8-11


Happiness is...Developing a Deeper Sense of Joy in One's Life


Join us for a different sort of Shabbat. Truly stepping out of our routine, we will explore this quality of joy, and begin to understand the significance of its practice in our lives. Joining with others in conversation, study, prayer and contemplative silence, we will gain insights into garnering our inner resources and directing our energies toward that which may have lasting impact far beyond this weekend together.


Registration:  This retreat is open to the public. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.regonline.com/layjuly2010

Reminder:  Register for the Hevraya Retreat July 4-8

L'shem Shamayim: Responding to Conflict with Clarity and Compassion

This retreat will address a subject of pressing importance to many, if not all of us:  "L'shem Shamayim: Bringing Compassion and Clarity to Conflict and Difficult Conversations."  In a safe and contemplative context, we will explore how we might respond to conflict in our lives (e.g. difficult situations and people, challenging or divisive topics such as Israel, etc.) with greater awareness, compassion, and clarity.  We'll explore as well how we might apply this mindfulness practice as leaders in Jewish communities, and help our communities respond to conflict with greater courage and creativity. 

Registration:  Please note, this retreat is only open to Hevraya members.  For more information on the retreat and to register, please visit http://www.regonline.com/hevrayajuly2010

Upcoming Dates: Rabbi Sheila Weinberg

UPDATED SCHEDULE --- Sheila will be at the following events, reading from her new book, Surprisingly Happy at some -

  • Philadelphia, PA - Mishkan Shalom, April 25

  • New York, NY - Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, workshop on compassion with Bikkur Holim Committee, April 27

  • New York, NY - JCC (Makom), book reading and signing, May 12, 7-8:30pm
  • Malibu Jewish Community, CA - June 1

  • San Raphael, CA - Rodeph Sholom, June 2

If you would like to invite Sheila to visit your community, please write sheila@ijs-online.org.
Recent Activities - Beginning a New Cohort

Jewish Meditation Teacher Training Program 
We wanted to let you know we are beginning a brand new initiative of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, co-sponsored by the Awakened Heart Project, aimed at training the next generation of mindfulness teachers in the Jewish community.

Enrollment for this cohort is now closed as we have reached our limit of 30 students; our first retreat will take place this May. This program is designed for people with significant experience in retreat and personal mindfulness practice, a strong Jewish background and leadership capacities.

We're thrilled to begin this new program with a full cohort; please let us knowif you'd be interested in participating in a future cohort.
 
Thank you! Rachel Cowan

Thank you for taking time out of your day
to be with us; keep an eye out for next month's updates. 

L'shalom, Rachel
Surprisingly Happy:
New York Reading

Sheila Weinberg
Join Sheila for a reading from her new book, Surprisingly Happy: 
An Atypical
Religious Memoir
.

JCC Manhattan
May 12, 7-8:30pm
RSVP and more info

Please see below for
more upcoming
readings in
your area.
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Listen to our
latest podcast!

Join Rabbi Marc Margolius for a teaching on counting the Omer, The Spiritual Journey of Divine Compassion [4/21/10].

podcast 

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Breathe.  Linshom.