Explore history, philosophy of Jewish spiritual worship with new course
Next week, Esther Schlanger of The Chabad Jewish Community Center will offer "With All My Heart," a new six-session course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) examining the Jewish art of prayer and spiritual experience.
Beginning Wednesday, course participants will study the history and philosophy of Jewish worship, seeking to discover the deep, elegant structure embedded within the Jewish prayer book and within Judaism’s ancient synagogue traditions.
“Responsibilities pull us in so many directions that we seldom get a chance to reflect on our lives, our mission in this world, what’s true, and what really matters to us,” Schlanger, the local JLI instructor in Bakersfield, said. “Even much of religion seems to have become routine and devoid of heartfelt feeling and spirituality. This course is out to debunk that notion and reclaim the ‘spirit’ within spiritual practice.”
According to JLI’s website, the course promises to “outline profound Jewish prayer techniques that lend wings to our emotions and words to our yearnings, allowing us to communicate with something much larger than ourselves, and feel comfort and shelter within a reality that’s more whole, more intense, more real, and more beautiful.”
“We tend to turn to prayer when we’re out of options, seeking some kind of magical intervention when we’re having trouble dealing with what life throws our way,” explained Rabbi Zalman Abraham, of JLI’s Brooklyn headquarters. “Prayer is meant to be so much more than that. It’s a way to relieve stress; find focus, clarity, and connection to a raw and vulnerable place deep within us; or even just to start each day from a positive, humble, and grateful frame of mind.”
"With All My Heart" explores questions such as: What is Jewish prayer? How do we achieve intimacy with God? What is the mystical meaning, power and impact of our prayers? If prayer is a journey, what is its destination? And how do we practice focused mindfulness while engaging in our day-to-day responsibilities?
Rabbi Laibl Wolf, founder and dean of Spiritgrow and author of "Practical Kabbalah," commented about the course, “Talking to God, or discovering the deeper self, is not taught or experienced by most Jews in a lifetime. It is therefore heroic of JLI to tackle this gap and bridge it with an excellent course that includes experiential elements like meditation.”
Like all JLI programs, this course is designed to appeal to people at all levels of knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple or other house of worship.
The course will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the center, 6901 Ming Ave. Cost is $85. Visit myJLI.com for registration and other course-related information. Interested students may also call 834-1512 or email Rabbi@chabadofbakersfield.com.