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Spirituality [clear filter]
Saturday, March 17

12:45pm CDT

Sh’ma Yisrael: The Jewish Declaration of the Unity of All Teaching, Dialogue, and Experience
“Sh’ma Yisrael…” is the best-known verse in Torah and Siddur.  It is often the first verse taught to children or adults learning the basics of prayer. Torah tells us to declare Sh’ma twice daily – when you lay down and when you rise up.  In the Siddur, Sh’ma is couched between two verses proclaiming love, creating a “love sandwich.” Tradition holds that we say Sh’ma before death as a final affirmation of faith. Classical Kabbalah teaches Sh’ma is the single verse that serves to pierce the veil separating Heaven and Earth. Venture into the deep wisdom of Sh’ma Yisrael through a multi-lensed perspective; tradition, language, and sacred play. After completing this workshop your relationship with Sh’ma will be renewed.  You will have new sensations, emotions, and insights to deepen future encounters with Judaism’s quintessential sacred verse, the Sh’ma Yisrael.

avatar for T’mimah Audrey Ickovits

T’mimah Audrey Ickovits

Rabbi T’mimah Audrey Ickovits, BSE CMT, is the founding rabbi and spiritual leader of Holistic Jew in Santa Monica, CA.  She cultivates gatherings that integrate prayer, learning, movement, and music, with ethically sourced delectable kosher meals.  She is a resonant teacher and... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 12:45pm - 1:45pm CDT
Room 3, Gates of Prayer

12:45pm CDT

The Spirituality of Changing Your Mind: A Jewish Approach to Solid Fluidity
We are a people who have changed our minds relentlessly for millennia. This session explores how changing one's mind can be a spiritual practice, one that involves evolution, growth, enrichment, and strength. Come explore the powerful ramifications of a staunch and rigorous stance of mind-changing, rooted in a Jewish tradition of constant discourse. Join us for a powerful session to discuss how this applies in your own personal and communal life.

avatar for Alexis Berk

Alexis Berk

Alexis Berk is enjoying her tenth year as senior rabbi of Touro Synagogue in Uptown New Orleans. She enjoys life here with her beautiful congregation, husband, two teenage sons, and a dog.

Saturday March 17, 2018 12:45pm - 1:45pm CDT
Bart Room, Gates of Prayer

2:00pm CDT

Caring for the Dead: Why Do I Need a Chevra Kadisha?
Caring for the dead is considered to be one of the most important mitzvahs because it is the only one that can never be repaid. In this session, learn about the Greater New Orleans Chevra Kadisha, whose volunteer members perform this mitzvah for their fellow New Orleanians. This session will describe how the Chevra Kadisha functions at the time of death, how it performs Jewish rituals such as tahara (washing of the body), and the prayers offered. I will show an actual burial shroud and explain the significance of each of its components. The session also provides important information about the steps that people must take after the death of a loved one, such as making funeral arrangements, purchasing a coffin, and the like. 

avatar for Sandy Lassen

Sandy Lassen

Sandy Lassen is the current president of the Greater New Orleans Chevra Kadisha, having been an active member for more than twenty years. She also manages and operates five Orthodox and/or Conservative cemeteries in the Greater New Orleans area. A former schoolteacher in New Orleans... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 2:00pm - 3:00pm CDT
Adult Lounge, Gates of Prayer

2:00pm CDT

Torah Tanzen: Roadmaps to the Heart
This session is an exploration of the embodiment of the sacred words of Torah, psalms, and Jewish liturgy. Join us as we invoke our connection to the Divine, using simple folk dance movements and our own song to fuel our prayer. No prior experience is necessary. This session is offered as a vehicle for connection to community and an experience of the joyful ease and stillness of Shabbat.

avatar for Rae Horton

Rae Horton

Rae Horton is a New Orleans native whose experience dancing with the Divine began in her childhood at Communal Nursery School, the JCC, and Camp Judaea. It was in the majesty of nature at Camp Judaea in the mountains of North Carolina that she first realized the power of group singing... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 2:00pm - 3:00pm CDT
Sanctuary, Gates of Prayer

2:00pm CDT

What Is This Thing We Call Spirituality?
In our time together as we explore what is spirituality, we will ask many questions. Is it something free of institutional structures and hierarchies--and not so much about dogma and beliefs as about attitudes, values, and practices and about what motivates us at the deepest level? To what extent does it influence how we think and behave?  Does it help us to locate a useful place in our community, culture, and in the world?  Does it contribute to discovering ourselves, each other, our environment, and the universe?  How does it help us to find an enduring sense of purpose and meaning?

avatar for Ron Marks

Ron Marks

Ron Marks is Dean Emeritus at the Tulane School of Social Work, having just stepped down after 15 years in that position. His PhD is in social welfare from the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh; he also has an MSW and a master’s degree in public health. Ron has... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 2:00pm - 3:00pm CDT
Board Room, Gates of Prayer

3:15pm CDT

Kabbalah and Ecology: Creating a World Where All Beings Are Respected and the World Is Cherished
Kabbalah teaches that human beings exist, and that God gave commandments to them, in order to bring blessing to all of Creation. Genesis is the story about how that went wrong, and the rest of the
Torah depicts the Jewish people taking up the mantle to make it right again. The question of how to make Creation right became a foundation of Kabbalah: how we should see the world and how we can use the world. In fact, every interaction with the world around us has that potential, not just through elevating the world around us but also through the image of God that is already there. How we understand issues like fracking, climate disruption, extinction, and more basically, our love for this world and its creatures, are deeply affected by what Kabbalah has to teach, if we choose to listen.

avatar for David Seidenberg

David Seidenberg

Rabbi David Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org and the author of Kabbalah and Ecology: God's Image in the More-than-Human World. He was ordained by both Jewish Theological Seminary and Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. David teaches about ecoTorah, spirituality and theology, Chasidic nigunim and prayer, Maimonides and Kabbalah, thr... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 3:15pm - 4:15pm CDT
Bart Room, Gates of Prayer

3:15pm CDT

Qu’ran and Torah: Closer than You Think
The Holy Books of Islam and Judaism have many elements in common. There are similarities of which most people are aware, such as belief in one G-d.  But what about how Judaism and Islam view women?  Do they have any mutual beliefs in the afterlife or the Day of Judgment? This session explores the common threads using the Holy Books and sacred writings of both to frame the discussion.  The presenters are members of a small group of Muslims, Jews, and Christians who meet weekly to read the Qu’ran and draw on it to explore the beliefs of their respective religions. Time will be allowed for audience discussion after the presentation.

avatar for Lou Furman

Lou Furman

Lou Furman is a mediator and Restorative Practitioner who works with youth, law enforcement, and communities.  He is a member of Chabad Uptown.  He is passionate about small group, intimate interfaith learning communities.  Lou is particularly sensitive to the repression that Jews... Read More →
avatar for Osman Kazan

Osman Kazan

Osman Kazan has been a faculty member in the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane since 2013. Previously, he worked in information technology companies for 12 years. His area of expertise is in business analytics and operations management; he also teaches advanced spreadsheet... Read More →
avatar for Fuat Ozdogan

Fuat Ozdogan

Fuat Ozdogan is a finance professional with more than ten years' work experience in Turkey. He specializes in fixed income trading, treasury management, corporate finance, and financial analysis. He is currently studying for his master’s degree in energy finance at Tulane University... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 3:15pm - 4:15pm CDT
Lake Library, Gates of Prayer Lake Library, Gates of Prayer

3:15pm CDT

Taking Leave: Our Evolving Relationship with the Departed
Is death painful for the soul? Does the soul of the deceased retain any attachment to this world, to its body, to its loved ones? In this session, we will discuss the Jewish view on, and some of the traditions associated with, the moment of passing, the preparation of the body for burial, the funeral, internment, and grave visitation. All of these inform us about the nature of the soul's continuing relationship with its life in this world and those that it loves.

avatar for Mendel Ceitlin

Mendel Ceitlin

Rabbi Mendel Ceitlin is the director of education at the Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie, where he lives with his wife, Chaya Mushka,and four children. Mendel was born and raised in Toronto;  studied in yeshivot in Toronto, Israel, and New York; and completed his rabbinical studies... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 3:15pm - 4:15pm CDT
Room 1, Gates of Prayer

4:30pm CDT

Who (Exactly) Art Thou? Getting to Know God
Throughout Tanakh and rabbinic texts, God is described in a multitude of ways — Creator, Redeemer, Judge, Master, just to name a few.  As Jews explore how their ancestors encountered the Divine in different situations, it raises the question of what kind of divine entity God is in the first place, and what kind of personal relationship with God we are directed by our tradition to build.

avatar for Todd Silverman

Todd Silverman

Rabbi Todd Silverman joined the Touro Synagogue team in July 2015 as the Rabbinic Director of Lifelong Learning. Originally from Clifton Park, NY, he comes most recently from Los Angeles, where he spent the better part of ten years teaching elementary school, attending seminary at... Read More →

Saturday March 17, 2018 4:30pm - 5:30pm CDT
Room 3, Gates of Prayer
Sunday, March 18

9:00am CDT

Rending Cloth and Heart: Tearing and Tears
This interactive workshop focuses on Keriah, the ritual tearing of the garments done before burial. This ritual has been called “the most striking Jewish expression of grief.” Keriah is a pivotal moment of transition as well as part of the sequence of Jewish grief and mourning practices. Through studying Keriah-related Jewish texts and the opportunity to respond to a generative writing prompt, we will explore Keriah on textual, emotional, and psycho-spiritual levels.

avatar for Janet Madden

Janet Madden

A writer and ritualist, Rabbi Janet Madden earned her PhD in literature from the National University of Ireland. She has served as both a hospice and congregational rabbi and currently is the rabbi of Providence Saint John’s Health Center (Santa Monica, CA) and visiting rabbi of... Read More →

Sunday March 18, 2018 9:00am - 10:00am CDT
Room 209, JCC

9:00am CDT

Strengths of the Soul: Finding Your Soul Powers
In the Hayom Yom it says, "The true path demands that one recognize his essential nature, with a genuine acknowledgment of one’s shortcomings and virtues." Explore the Kaballah of the 10 Kochos Hanefesh (Soul Powers) in a practical manner, utilizing these Soul Powers to make a difference and reach your potential. Based on Don Clifton's Strengths Finder, find out how knowing your strengths or lack thereof can be helpful in achieving success. Learn how to apply this in a leadership capacity, whether it is in your classroom, business, or home.

avatar for Rivkie Chesney

Rivkie Chesney

Rivkie Chesney is the Director of Hebrew Studies for the Early Childhood program at Torah Academy. Mrs. Chesney acquired her teacher’s certificate in Israel at Beit Chana Women’s College in Tzfat. She then spent a year as a mentor at Mayanot Women’s Program, a Jewish studies... Read More →

Sunday March 18, 2018 9:00am - 10:00am CDT
Room 202b, JCC

10:15am CDT

Connecting to Stillness Through Ritual
The process of entering into a meditative space can be likened to preparing oneself for ritual or preparing one's altar for ceremony. Upon entering into a meditative practice, one is entering into a state of light and connection with that which is holy to you. While resting in a meditative state, one becomes receptive to high spiritual presence. During the process of returning from a meditative state, one retreats slowly, with reverence and recognition of that space you have rested in. Upon completion of the practice, one takes a moment of deep gratitude for the connection with that which is holy.

avatar for Gael Thompson

Gael Thompson

As co-owner of Tibetan House, Gael Thompson is dedicated to bringing awareness to the wonderful teachings of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism, and the plight of the Tibetan people in their effort to keep their unique and compassionate culture alive. At Tibetan House, she offers classes... Read More →

Sunday March 18, 2018 10:15am - 11:15am CDT
Pasternack Family Gymnasium, JCC

11:30am CDT

Expansive Prayer: Queering Our Concept of Blessings and Prayer
Taking a lesson from the beautiful Sha'ar Zahav prayer book, which features many "new" blessings for modern Jewish life, we will be looking in this session at the role of prayer and blessing in Jewish history. We will talk about what it means to queer a Jewish prayer experience and where there is permission to adapt our ritual experience. And finally, we will spend time reading, sharing, and even writing the blessings we have been missing in our Jewish lives.

avatar for Dani Levine

Dani Levine

Dani Levine is the New Orleans Director for Avodah. Avodah strengthens the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. It does so by engaging participants in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong leaders... Read More →

Sunday March 18, 2018 11:30am - 12:30pm CDT
Room 208, JCC

4:00pm CDT

Spirituality, Trauma, and Resilience
“Pain is an unseen and powerful hand that breaks the skin of the stone in order to extract the pulp.” When you read this quote by Kahlil Gibran, how do you interpret it? What does it mean to “break the skin of the stone”? What does it mean “to extract the pulp”? What are the right answers to this question? Are there any wrong answers? This workshop is about suffering that may be caused by traumatic events, the ways in which that suffering may be soothed, and the ways in which it may be transformed through spiritual and clinical approaches. How do people of the Jewish tradition explain that suffering exists and find meaning in the face of suffering?

avatar for Kathy Regan Figley

Kathy Regan Figley

Dr. Kathy Regan Figley has specialized in human services and trauma/stress management since 1983. She is a field practitioner who has worked with the general public, clinicians, first responders, clergy, emergency managers, and the military in the areas of field traumatology, compassion... Read More →

Sunday March 18, 2018 4:00pm - 5:00pm CDT
Youth Activities Lounge, JCC