Hey everybody out there in Jewschool-land! Sometimes it feels lonely up here in Beantown. Sure, The Wandering Jew and Danya are here with me, but so many of the events posted about here on Jewschool take place 300 miles south of us, it’s hard to feel part of the cutting edge progressive Jewish community that we hear so much about.
Ok, I kid a bit, but those of you who are also reading these words from somewhere in orbit of the Hub of the Universe know they ring true. So for this reason alone, I encourage you to clear your calendars for Sunday night and join me, and Danya, and hopefully hundreds of like-minded others at Everything is God: A Boston Spiritual Woodstock.
From the accounts I heard and read, the first EIG event (held in Central Park a few months ago) was the bee’s knees. Well, as we all know from The Godfather II and Empire Strikes Back, the second one will be even better. And the second one is happening on Sunday at 7 pm at Harvard Hillel. Facebook it. Buy your ticket. And then make sure you stop by the Jewschool table at the Jewish Organizational Hoe-Down to say hi to me.
All the official information (including, you know, what the event actually IS), in the form of a press release, after the cut.
What is the “New Jewish Spirituality”?
Expert panel discusses resurgence of Jewish spirituality, while “Spiritual Woodstock” fair showcases it with over thirty participating organizations
Boston, MA. Amid a widespread increase in spirituality among a new generation of post-denominational Jews, an expert panel is convening at the Harvard Hillel in Cambridge to discuss the phenomenon, followed by an unusual “spiritual Woodstock” fair featuring its most prominent leaders. The events take place Sunday, January 31, and celebrate the publication of the new book by Forward and Huffington Post columnist Jay Michaelson entitled Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism.
The panel features two recent award-winners: Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, recently named a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature for her memoir Surprised by God, Michaelson, recently named to the “Forward 50” list of “the men and women who are leading the American Jewish community into the 21st century,” and Seth Castleman, a former Buddhist monk who is being ordained as a rabbi this year. The panel will be introduced by Dr. Bernard Steinberg, President and Director of Harvard Hillel.
The panel will discuss the “new Jewish culture” and the new forms of Jewish spirituality emerging in the 21st century, how such forms resemble and differ from past ones, how the act of spiritual writing has evolved in the last twenty years, and what it means that Jews are post-denominationally and cross-culturally creating their own religious and secular approaches to Jewish spirituality.
The most exciting aspect of the evening, though, will be the “Spiritual Woodstock” fair of contemporary organizations working and creating new spiritual and religious forms within the New Jewish Culture. The fair will provide an opportunity to encounter this new flowering of Jewish spiritual creativity firsthand, meeting directly with some of its leading institutions, including GesherCity, Keshet, Eden Village Camp, Kirtan Rabbi, the Kirva Institute, the Tremont Street Shul, Nehirim, and many others. The fair will also include a performance by Boston Jewish hip-hop artist Rakia.
“This is the Judaism of the iPod,” said Michaelson. “Buddhist meditation, spiritual blogs, environmental activism, Hasidic theology, feminism and queer theory, hip-hop, postmodern ethics — everything is on the playlist.”
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Seth Castleman is co-founder and guiding teacher of Nishmat Hayyim: Breath of Life Jewish Meditation Collaborative of New England. Seth has taught meditation for 12 years locally and nationally in synagogues, retreat centers, and universities. Seth has trained in Jewish and other types of meditation in the US, Israel, and Asia. He spent a year and a half in intensive silent retreat, and has studied with many of the world’s leading meditation masters. Seth has been formally trained as a meditation teacher, pastoral counselor and chaplain by Dr. Jack Kornfield, PhD.
Jay Michaelson is the author of Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism. Recently named to the “Forward 50” list of the fifty “men and women who are leading American Judaism into the 21st century,” Jay is the executive director of Nehirim: GLBT Culture & Spirituality, and a columnist for the Forward, Huffington Post, Zeek, and Tikkun. Previous books include God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice and Another Word for Sky: Poems. Michaelson has taught Jewish mysticism at Yale University and City College of New York, and is completing his Ph.D. in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is the author of Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press) and editor of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press, 2009) and Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press). She’s also a contributing editor to Lilith and the academic journal Women and Judaism, and is on the editorial board of (and blogs at) Jewschool.com. Rabbi Ruttenberg is currently co-editing a series of books on Jewish ethics with Rabbi Elliot Dorff for the Jewish Publication Society’s Jewish Choices/Jewish Voices series and has been published in many books and periodicals over the years. Rabbi Ruttenberg lives in the Boston area with her husband Nir and son Yonatan, serves as Senior Jewish Educator at Tufts University’s Hillel, and teaches and lectures nationwide.