Center for Prayer and Spirituality

Encompassing all facets of prayer and devotional practice at BJ, the Center for Prayer and Spirituality will advance BJ’s spiritual vision through a broad array of experiential entry points representing the multiple spiritual dimensions of the Jewish tradition.

We believe that the Center for Prayer and Spirituality is aptly named, as it is so central to the collective experience of our community. Through the work of this center, we will deepen our Shabbat and holiday programming, expand offerings for alternative prayer spaces and spiritual practices, continue to enrich the musical dimension of our tefillah, introduce new opportunities for immersive experiences, encourage exploration and reclamation of ritual practice, and expand our horizons through meaningful adult learning.

This coming year in particular, we will be prioritizing three areas in which we seek to enhance the spiritual life of our community.

  • We will be expanding opportunities for mindfulness practice, while also deepening the way that this practice can impact the BJ community more broadly.
  • We will be launching an exciting new initiative, engaging in the spiritual practice of communal singing. Recognizing the transformative and transcendent power of music, we will be exploring what is possible when we gather in intimate spaces, and –through a spiritual lens – sing, harmonize, and listen together.
  • We know that so many in our community are in the midst of significant life transitions: marking a retirement, sending a child off to college, coming out, at various points in the midst of treatment for an illness, or embarking on a significant journey. With this in mind, we will be creating a series of Ritual Labs to explore some of these transitions through a Jewish framework, and together, create rituals to bring these moments into a holy space.

Through these expansive new initiatives, the Center for Prayer and Spirituality will continue the work of drawing ourselves closer to the Divine presence, to our community, and to our own souls.

Come and join us.

 


Who Are We?

Cantor David Mintz, Director
Cantor David Mintz joins B’nai Jeshurun from New Orleans, LA, where he served as cantor of Touro Synagogue since 2014. While at Touro, he created a variety of initiatives to develop a culture of communal singing as spiritual practice. In addition, he reimagined young family Shabbat programming and oversaw the community’s 26-year tradition of Jazz Fest Shabbat, collaborating with renowned jazz musicians such as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jon Cleary, Sunpie Barnes, and the Panorama Jazz Band of New Orleans. Read moreContact Dave
Dan Nadel, Music Director
Dan Nadel is an Israeli born, New York-based guitarist and composer, whose personal style combines flamenco, jazz, and Middle Eastern influences. He is a bandleader, a solo performing artist, and a collaborator with Tavche Gravche, his multinational neo-Balkan group.A busy musician on New York’s scene, Nadel has also worked with many world-renowned artists, including jazz musicians… Read moreContact Dan
Kristen Kersey, Department Administrator
Kristen’s first position at B’nai Jeshurun was as the Administrative Assistant for Youth and Family Education Department (now known as Family Life and Learning). After three years as an Event Coordinator at Citigroup, Kristen is thrilled to be returning to her spiritual home. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History from American University in 2009. Kristen lives on the Upper West Side, and when she is not at BJ, you can often find her cooking, singing, writing, or attempting some dangerous combination of the three.Contact Kristen

 


Upcoming CPS Programming

Bo-i Kallah

Friday, January 19 | 6:30PM | BJ Reception Room
Join Rabbi Roly Matalon, Deborah Sacks Mintz, and Music Director Dan Nadel for this alternative Kabbalat Shabbat service. With the help of soulful melodies, verses of Shir haShirim (Song of Songs), liturgical poems, and Psalms, we will transition gently and with full kavannah from hol to kodesh, leaving workweek anxieties behind to enter holy time and welcome Shabbat. Read more about this service here.

Hakhanah laTefillah

Saturday, January 20 | 8:45-9:25AM | BJ Chapel
Please join Rabbi Roly Matalon to prepare the soul and open the heart for Shabbat morning prayers through the singing of piyutim and reflections on kavannah.

Devotional Song: Kirtan Shabbat Shirah

Saturday, January 27 | 7:30PM | BJ Sanctuary
Merging Jewish devotional chants from around the world with the South Asian tradition of Kirtan, we will reach for spiritual heights at this conclusion of Shabbat Shirah.

Read more »

A Conversation with Anita Diamant

Wednesday, January 31 | 7:00PM | BJ Sanctuary
Join Rabbi Felicia Sol for an evening of conversation with renowned author and ritual innovator, Anita Diamant. The New York Times bestselling author of such works of fiction as The Red Tent and non-fiction resources such as Choosing a Jewish Life, Anita Diamant is the founding president of Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh, a 21st century reinvention of the ritual bath as a place for exploring ancient traditions and enriching contemporary Jewish life.

Read more »

Haleli Nafshi: Communal Singing and Havdalah

Saturday, February 3 | 5:00PM | BJ Chapel
Join us for our monthly Shabbat gathering, part of BJ’s initiative on communal singing as a spiritual practice. We’ll spend the final moments of Shabbat together, singing beautiful nigunim and zemirot as havdalah approaches.

The evening will be filled with melodies that may be familiar and evocative, alongside those that are challenging and new; filled with a spirit that ranges from celebratory and jubilant to meditative and peaceful.

Please bring a vegetarian snack and/or drink to share.

Mark your calendars for next time: Saturday, March 3, 5:30PM

Shira Yoga Intensive with Rabbi Myriam Klotz

Wednesdays, February 7, 14, and 21 and Tuesday, February 27 | 6:15-7:30PM | BJ Sanctuary
Join Rabbi Myriam Klotz and Dan Nadel for a four-week Shira Yoga Intensive. Integrating movement, Jewish texts, and global Jewish music. In our sanctuary-turned yoga studio, this intensive will provide a flexible space for yogis of all levels to explore the richness of Jewish creativity and spirituality through the body. Read more »

Uncovering Siddur Lev Shalem: A Conversation with Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

Saturday, March 24 | 6:30PM | BJ Reception Room
Join Rabbi Roly Matalon in conversation with Rabbi Jan Urbach, Associate Editor of our recently adopted Siddur Lev Shalem. Learn about the process of this siddur’s creation, discover some of the gems found inside, and hear about its place in the landscape of contemporary Jewish life.

Ritual Labs: Retirement

Monday, February 5, 12, and 26, and March 12 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Middle Room
The Center for Prayer and Spirituality is proud to be launching a series of Ritual Labs to explore pivotal moments of transition in our lives and create rituals to elevate those moments into a sacred space. We will begin together by engaging around the transition of retirement. Whether you are anticipating your upcoming retirement or settling into this new stage of life, join Rabbi Michael Boino and Cantor David Mintz for an opportunity to explore the wisdom of our tradition as it relates to this meaningful life transition, broaden our understanding of Jewish ritual, and together, develop a new ritual to mark this time.

In this type of setting, creating a safe space and building a committed cohort is crucial. For these reasons, the Ritual Lab will not be drop-in. If this experience sounds right for you, we invite you to contact Kristen to become a part of this exciting cohort!