Intellect: Talmud Torah – rigorous study of Jewish texts is at the center of what the Yeshiva does, yet our mode of study will involve the heart, body and soul as well as the head. Implementing innovative pedagogical approaches that combine practice and study, we will delve into ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary texts in a way that is intellectually challenging and spiritually satisfying.
Awareness: Mindfulness & Meditation – Presence and awareness are at the heart of everything we do. Called mindfulness in our contemporary parlance, formal mindfulness meditation as well as informal integration of mindfulness throughout the day and into all of our other modes of practice will attempt to create a shared foundation and language of awareness that will permeate the entire program. Additional forms of meditative practice will be incorporated throughout the program in multiple settings. The program will begin with an intensive meditation-based retreat.
Spirit: Prayer – Prayer is one of the most ancient practices of our people. Incorporating ancient forms of both spontaneous and structured prayer, mystical understandings of prayer and prayer practices, and contemporary developments in Jewish prayer, prayer at the Yeshiva will take many forms from ecstatic to quietistic, traditional to experimental and discursive to embodied. Music and song will form a central part of our prayer practice enhanced by the gifted composers and musicians on our faculty. You are welcome to continue your own prayer practices at the yeshiva (including fulfilling your halakhic obligations as you understand them) and are expected to participate in the communal prayers.
Body: Embodied Practice – We are embodied creatures, spirit breathed into earth, and this gift of the body is a foundational pillar of our practice. From formal embodied practices such as movement or yoga, to practices that stress embodied awareness and posture such as meditation, to the incorporation of embodied awareness and the language of the body into our Talmud Torah, the body will be present at every level of our practice. Together we will explore what the body knows, what the body can reveal, and how our relationship with our body can be whole and transformed.
Heart: Heart-Based Practice – Our emotions are central to our spiritual life. The Yeshiva teaches a path that sees emotional openness and vulnerability as core aspects of our practice. Including a spectrum from compassionate meditative awareness of emotions, to emotionally evocative prayer practices, and learning in ways which maintain vulnerability and continual contact with the heart, experiencing and working with the emotions will be woven into the experience of the Yeshiva. We will also take our heart and body, and the rest of our practices, out into the world, as acts of Hesed (loving-kindness) as part of the yeshiva week.
Emphasizing Jewish mystical texts, yet also including classic rabbinic texts (both Talmud and Midrash), Halakhah, and Jewish thought more broadly, you will be introduced to or deepened in your textual and conceptual skills in each of these areas. Texts will be in the original language (Hebrew or Aramaic) with translation tools or translation as appropriate and necessary for each level of learning. You will improve you textual and conceptual literacy in each of these subject areas.
Courses will include Contemplative Rabbinics (Talmud, Midrash, & Aggadah), Hasidism, Kabbalah, Musar, Halakhah, Jewish Spiritual Practices, and opportunities to deepen in a particular thinker or subject area through weekly electives and haburot (study groups).
You will be exposed to a variety of Jewish mystical-theological concepts from a number of different schools such as the Sefirot, tzimtzum (divine contraction), shevirah (the breaking of the vessels), theurgy, the exile of God (galut), divine Eros (zivug), the mystical nature of the Hebrew alphabet and others. Your will also explore Jewish understandings of emptiness (ayin), no-self (bitul ha-yesh) non-duality (ein od milvado), the unconscious (kadmut ha-sekhel), fully feeling one’s emotions (hitragshut), will and passion (ratzon), spiritual practice (avodah) and other core spiritual concepts in Judaism.
Weekly themes such as, “Ein Od Milvado, Non-duality, Yichud, and Inter-Being”, “Hitragshut, Full Emotion, Catharsis, and Emotional Balance” and “Being rather than doing, Shabbat, Cessation, and Non-Fixing” will allow integrated practice and study to deepen various elements of our spiritual work.
Students will also be exposed to a variety of Jewish contemplative practices and skills over your course of study. Students will develop your capacities for mindfulness, concentration, intention, prayer literacy and skills, working with difficulties in practice, fully feeling emotions, embodied awareness, fellowship and community practice, blessings, and other contemplative skills.
Students will also develop your capacities for love, compassion, softness, equanimity, vulnerability, open hearted passion, awe, gratitude, joy, honesty, simplicity, openness, faith, trust, and other crucial spiritual qualities.