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
Thursday, September 20 | 6:00PM | BJ Rooftop
Start the new year right by jumping into the mitzvah of Sukkah-building! Join us to help hang walls, raise the branches, and bring our Sukkah to life. Please R.S.V.P. to let us know you’re coming.
Come one, come all to BJ’s open sukkah during these hours:
Sunday, September 23 | 7:00-10:00PM
Monday, September 24 | 12:00 noon-3:00PM and 7:30-10:00PM
Tuesday, September 25 | 12:00 noon-3:00PM
Wednesday, September 26 | 12:00 noon-2:00PM
Thursday, September 27 | 2:00-4:00PM
Friday, September 28 | 12:00 noon-3:00PM
Saturday, September 29 | 3:00-5:00PM
Sunday, September 30 | 7:00-10:00PM
Tuesday, September 25 | 7:30PM | BJ Community House Sukkah
Much like Ashkenazic nigunim and Mizrahi piyut melodies, the music of the African American spiritual tradition, heard in familiar songs like “Motherless Child” and “Wade in the Water,” are part of a rich history that define a Jewish African American experience. Join BJ member Zakai Ben Chaim and BJ Music Director Dan Nadel for a unique musical collaboration exploring the cultural and spiritual significance of this powerful music as it is now being enfolded into our global Jewish identity and shaping a shared belief, history, and language. Limited seating is available for this special evening in the BJ Community Sukkah. Register here to join us!
Friday, September 28 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services | BJ Community House Sukkah
It’s the first Community Shabbat Dinner of the year! What better way to come together than in the Sukkah for a holiday about hospitality and the harvest? Bring something delicious to share, grab a bottle of your favorite kosher wine, and get ready to bring in Shabbat the BJ way: with a little singing, some learning with the newest member of BJ’s rabbinic team, Rabbi Erin Glazer, and the embrace of community. Please bring a dairy/vegetarian dish for 8-10 people, and consider including a bottle of kosher wine with your contribution. You can come early to drop your dish off in the Sukkah before heading to services. If you are able to volunteer to help set out food before dinner, please indicate this when you sign up.
Every Other Saturday Beginning October 6 | 8:45-9:25AM | BJ Chapel
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. This series is open to all, no registration necessary.
Saturday, October 13 | 6:00PM | 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 niggunim and zemirot as havdalah approaches.
Mondays, beginning October 15 | 6:30-7:00PM | BJ Chapel
Whether you have a deep meditation practice or are interested in exploring mindfulness for the first time, we invite you to join us for Monday Meditation Minyan, led by Yael Shy. Each session will begin with wisdom from the Jewish tradition, followed by focused meditation (with some guidance), a short discussion, and an opportunity for community members to recite Mourner’s Kaddish. No experience or registration necessary; all are welcome.
Monday Meditation Minyan meets weekly, with the exception of national and Jewish holidays.
Mondays, October 15, 22, and 29 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Middle Room
Become a member of this year’s first Ritual Lab cohort, delving into the experience of mourners completing a year of saying Kaddish for a loved one. The daily action of saying Kaddish is among the most powerful of Jewish rituals, and yet there can be an additional sense of loss when the year of mourning concludes. Join Cantor David Mintz for an opportunity to explore the wisdom of our tradition, broaden our understanding of Jewish ritual, and together, co-create a new ritual to mark the act of emerging beyond the year of mourning.
Sunday, October 21 | 1:00-4:00PM | Frankel Hall and BJ Kitchen
Nothing evokes the feeling of Shabbat (or brings people running!) quite like the smell of freshly-baked challah. This hands-on introductory course, led by Vanessa Harper (the rabbinical student and baker behind @lechlechallah on Instagram), will teach you how to use your own two hands and a few simple ingredients to bring the magic of homemade bread to your own Shabbat table. You’ll leave with flour on your shirt, your own braided challah ready to bake at home, and a wealth of knowledge around challah’s history, rituals, and significance.
If yeast intimidates you and a three-stranded braid might as well be a knitted sweater, this class is for you. If you can make challah with your eyes closed, this class is not for you (wait for the master class on interpretive challah shaping later this year). This class features a learning session that will be geared towards adult learners; younger learners comfortable with this level are welcome.
There is a materials fee of $18/person, space is limited.
Friday, November 2 | 5:30PM | BJ Chapel
Prepare to enter Shabbat by joining Hazzan Ari Priven for this new opportunity to unlock the melodies that you’ll hear throughout Shabbat services. Discover exciting new melodies, let the old favorites into your heart, and prepare for Shabbat in a truly beautiful way. No registration necessary, all are welcome.
Saturday, November 17 | Following Kiddush | BJ Chapel
What does it mean to forgive? Does forgiving mean we have to condone hurtful actions? In this session with Rabbi Shuli Passow, we will bring gentle presence to the ways we’ve been hurt and have hurt others, as a step towards releasing ourselves from the corrosive chains of resentment. Forgiveness is a practice of courage and compassion: come prepared to share, to listen without judgement, and to open your heart in love.
Read more »
Register now for January 20-27, 2019 | Costa Rica
Is multitasking in your daily life taking a toll? Spend a week of simple living in the rich ecology of the Costa Rican rain forest and the rustic elegance and organic fine cuisine of La Montaña Azul Center. Led by Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, we will explore Jewish mindfulness practices as a way to connect more deeply with our souls, our truest values, and with God’s creation, of which we are an integral part. Each day we will pray, meditate, set a kavanah (intention), follow integrative body movement practices, bear witness to local social initiatives and experience nature.
Read more »
Tuesdays, February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2019 | 7:00-8:00PM | BJ Chapel
Family life can be the landscape where we find great meaning and purpose, and at the same time, be the container for some of our most challenging relationships and emotions. Join Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein for an exploration of these universal conflicts, and the tools that mindfulness practice and the wisdom of our tradition can offer in bringing a sense of healing to complex familial relationships.