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Lisa Goldstein


I recently went to a meditation program with a friend.  Afterwards we went for a walk and marveled at the shameless ways of the mind, how we judge people without the slightest provocation and how we judge ourselves for judging others.  


I told her that for me, one of the greatest gifts of this practice is the instruction to return time and again to compassion for my own inability to live up to my ideals and for the unredeemed world in which we live.   


We are pleased to offer you some tools and stories to support your work on bringing more compassion to the world, both internally and externally.  We hope you find them to be helpful!



"What would it mean to give up judgment right now?"


Ellen Lippmann
Ellen Lippmann


I founded Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, in Brooklyn, New York, in 1993. This is an independent community that has grown from a collection of eight people around my dining room table, to 360+ members.


I joined the Institute's third rabbinic program when Kolot was ten years old.


At that time,  I felt spiritually dry.  I felt that perhaps I had done all I could to move the community forward; prayer and too many other aspects of our religious life were getting dull to me.  The Institute looked like water in the desert.


It wasn't as if I didn't have any spiritual practices in my life: Shabbat dinners at home, and Torah study with a long-time study partner gave me deep sustenance.  But it wasn't enough, so I applied to the Institute.


When my partner heard I was joining the program, she said, "You're going to be silent for four days??"  It turned out I loved the silence.  


But the practice that brought me to my edge was yoga....


[read more...]

Suffering and Compassion -
Notes from Va'era



Jonathan Slater

The experience of suffering is constrictive. It causes a reflexive shrinking into oneself for protection and self-soothing. It conserves energy for self-preservation. It focuses attention on the perceived source of the suffering, limiting the field of vision.

The response to suffering is frequently a search for that which will cause it to stop immediately, even if that solution is only temporary, even if it creates more suffering. A wise response to suffering would be to create more ease, more spaciousness, more flexibility and more patience. Joy could be that wise response.


It is important, though, to conceive of this joy as more than pleasure or satisfaction, at least as commonly understood. That is, when my need or desire is met, I experience a form of joy. On the surface, that joy derives from my sense of being recognized; justified in my desires, right and good as, after all, my desires were fulfilled. 


That joy will be fleeting, as our desires will not always be fulfilled; our needs will conflict with others'; we will discover that what we wanted was not satisfying in the end. The temporary joy that comes from having our needs filled ultimately causes more suffering.


Yet, there is an aspect of having our needs filled that may not cause such suffering. It is when we can recognize that our needs are filled in every waking moment. Just to be alive is itself a miracle, a gift, even with its losses and its pain. In any given moment, we can wake up to the fact that we are conscious, that we can observe the fact of our aliveness...



Summer 2012 Retreats
 Trinity Retreat & Conference Center
West Cornwall, CT 
Open Shabbaton
Theme - Hoda'ah/Gratitude 

Rabbis 7 Cohort
2nd Retreat



Silent Shabbaton
Hearing the Still, Small Voice

Practice Note:
One exercise from the cohort is still with me. In pairs, we sat facing each other and asked ourselves, over and over, as our answers grew deeper, "What would it mean to give up judgment right now?"  This question remains crucial for me as part of my practice.
- Ellen

Related Resources

We hope you may find some of these resources useful in your practice: 

Parashah Tetzaveh Video Teaching

Several sessions from the Wisdom 2.0 Conference relate to mindfulness, watch the videos here, including -
Jon Kabbat Zinn -"Why Mindfulness, Why Now?" and 
Daniel Siegel 
-"Mindfulness and the Brain

Awakened Heart Project Six-Day Jewish Meditation Retreat, August, San Rafael, CA

Wellsprings of Freedom: The Renew Our Days Haggadah
Go Easy on Yourself, A New Wave of Research Urges, 2.28.11


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