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Rachel Cowan

All of us who work and learn at the Institute understand that spiritual growth is a life-long process.


It emerges in fits and starts, and most often shows up in little ways - in the simple activities of daily life.


Through our ups and downs, the work comes powerfully to help us know love and joy, and to be with pain. 


We grow only through practice, with input and guidance from teachers and fellow seekers.


This insight is surely true to my experience as I move more deeply into my new role as Senior Fellow of the Institute, developing the Wise Aging project. This work is rich and also challenging! 


Reading Ann's story, below, reminds me how grateful I am for what I have learned during my years with the Institute. I have grown in my ability to hold all that comes, with reasonable equanimity (at least most of the time), to remain open to new possibilities, and to overcome obstacles with greater clarity.


I'm grateful, too, to all of you who have supported the Institute. Please join me today in making a donation so that more people - like you, Ann and me - can develop the spiritual language and practices that help us find deeper purpose and meaning in our lives - bringing healing and change to the Jewish community and the world.


With love,




Always the fixer


Ann Greenstein

I am a fixer and have always liked to be in control. 


But I paid a price, becoming completely burned out and really unhappy. I didn't know what I wanted to do next or how to move forward. 


I believed that there were spiritual aspects to life that I was missing.


My rabbi told me about her experience with the Institute. Seeing her growth prompted me to take her advice and join an Institute program - and, over time, I developed a new perspective.

What have I noticed?  I'm more open and accepting of my life and what goes on around me.


For one thing, I don't get wrapped up and upset if a politician says something that annoys me. No small accomplishment.


I'm more available for the people I love. 


Recently, I got a call from a friend who had just found out she had cancer and wanted me to go with her to the doctor. I did. The news wasn't great but I reminded her that she didn't know anything yet, and wouldn't until she had surgery and a biopsy. 


I didn't try to fix it or tell her what to do.  I just listened to the physician, stayed calm for her, and helped her avoid spinning out into despair.


Being calm for my friend didn't stop me from going home and having a good cry. My dad had just been through this so I had to allow for my own fear and still be able to show up for my friend, being present for her with zero anxiety.  I know that the Institute practices helped me do this. 


An arc of transformation  


I see an arc of transformation in myself. I attribute it to meditation, mussar, and the discipline of weekly conversations with a study partner, that force me to come outside of myself and be there for another person. 


These practices have an impact on my life every day, even if I don't always notice. It's as if there is something running in the background.


Though I made the decision to leave my job prior to starting with the Institute, my work with the Institute has eased the transition. 


Rather than fearing change, I see my life unfolding before me with a sense of wonder. 


I don't know what I will be doing a year from now but I have the beginnings of a spiritual practice and a spiritual language to assist me with whatever comes my way.  





Institute retreat



P.S. If you have made a recent donation, we thank you so very much for your gift and ongoing support of the Institute!   





Recent Retreat Pics
Larry Schwartz

January 2012 Retreats
A Silent Retreat: 
The True Rest 
of Shabbat 
Register and full information [here]


Seeing the Good:  Cultivating Loving  Perception (Ayin Tova) 

Register and full information [here]



Sheila Weinberg 
Mindfulness Practice and the Jewish Year 3.2011 
[listen now]
No'am Elimelekh 
with Jonathan Slater







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