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
Wednesday, November 21 | 6:30PM | SPSA, 263 West 86th Street
BJ and neighbors of all faith traditions will join together on the eve of Thanksgiving to sing, give thanks, and reflect upon social justice issues. Clergy from several churches and synagogues will be participating in the service. Please bring checks made out to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. This event is open to all, no registration necessary.
Fridays, Beginning October 12 | Various Times | Various Locations
Have a delicious Shabbat meal, build closer relationships, and help strengthen the BJ community all at the same time! Beginning on October 12, BJ members will be hosting a series of Pay-It-Forward-style Shabbat dinners in their homes.
What does this mean? Each dinner is open to BJ members from particular cohorts of the community; in signing up to attend, you are committing to host a Shabbat dinner of your own for other BJ members in the weeks or months ahead. You could host the same people who attended the first dinner, or invite an entirely new group from your own social circle at BJ. The choice is yours!
Not sure how to host a Shabbat meal? No problem. We’re rolling out a slew of workshops and online resources, including a complete Shabbat Dinner Hosting Guide.
Mondays, beginning October 15 | 6:30-7:00PM | 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 necessary; all are welcome.
Monday Meditation Minyan meets weekly, with the exception of national and Jewish holidays. To get a glimpse of what you can experience in-person, check out the live stream of this season’s first session.
Tuesdays Beginning October 16 | 9:00AM | 4th Floor Conference Room
Join Rabbi Hillel Friedman, longtime BJ member, for a perusal of the classical prophets. Together we will study excerpts from the classical prophets and apply their wisdom to our concerns in the 21st century.
Tuesday, November 27 | 7:30PM | Sanctuary
Presented by Hadar, join Rabbi Shai Held and Rabbi David Ellenson, two of the American Jewish community’s most prominent leaders and thinkers, for a panel conversation. Moderated by Jane Eisner of The Forward, they will explore the big questions of modern Jewish life and their impact on Judaism, including: God, secularization, the Holocaust, Zionism, American politics, academic Jewish Studies, and much more.
Entrance fee is $5, but BJ members can use code BJ1127 to register for free! Optional reception before the program
Friday, November 30 | Following the Kabbalat Shabbat Service | Reception and Middle Rooms
Pull out the quinoa and kale, the next community potluck Shabbat dinner is right around the corner! Get ready to make your Shabbat a little sweeter with friends, food, and soulful singing led by Rabbi Adina Lewittes. Bring your friends, family, and dairy/vegetarian creations.
Saturdays, November 3 and 17, December 1 and 15 (2019 dates forthcoming) | 8:45-9:25AM | 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, December 1 | 9:30AM | Frankel Hall
Join Rabbinic Fellow Abi Weber for a Shabbat morning learners’ minyan. This minyan is open to newcomers and regulars alike looking for a deeper understanding of the meaning of the prayers, the liturgical arc of the service, and a more intimate prayer experience and discussion. We will dive into the Shaharit service together and join the rest of the congregation for the Torah service and Musaf. Meets the first Saturday of each month.
Monday, December 10 | 7:00PM | Middle Room
Hanukkah may be over, but don’t put the matchbook in the drawer quite yet! Join Cantor Dave Mintz for a fascinating evening of learning and exploration about the depth of meaning behind the ritual of kindling Shabbat lights. What is it about the power of lighting a flame that is so evocative in spiritual life? What does this ritual instill in us? How did the tradition of lighting Shabbat candles develop? Why is lighting Shabbat candles traditionally considered a woman’s role? Do women have to be the ones to light Shabbat candles? Is there room for creativity and innovation in this ritual? We’ll explore all of these questions and more in a lively exploration of the Shabbat ritual that has sustained our people. No registration necessary, all are welcome.
Thursday, December 15 | Following Kiddush | Chapel
How can gratitude bring greater meaning into our lives? Is it possible to experience gratitude when things are not going well? In this session with Rabbi Shuli Passow, we will explore the idea of gratitude as a spiritual state, as well as methods for practicing and cultivating deeper gratitude–even when times are tough. Prepare for Thanksgiving with this interactive and heart-opening workshop.
Read more »
Thursday, December 27 | 7:30PM | Sanctuary
Sing with Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble live at their biggest concert of the year! The music of the Hadar Ensemble blends traditional Jewish sounds and melodies with eclectic influences such as jazz, bluegrass, Balkan, flamenco, and klezmer. The results are joyful, raucous, meditative, and heart-opening. Explore the depths of Jewish communal music as we sing together on this unforgettable evening.
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 »
Mondays January 28-February 11 | 7:00-8:30PM | Middle Room
Become a member of the next 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.
Tuesdays, February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2019 | 7:00-8:00PM | 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.