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

Sell Your Hametz at BJ

Through Thursday, March 29

Traditionally, avoiding hametz has meant getting rid of all hametz in your possession. Considering this can cause major financial hardship, as well as wasting food, a custom was developed to sell the hametz to a non-Jewish person for the duration of Pesah. Once again, Rabbi Roly Matalon will be your agent for selling hametz. Sign up by Thursday, March 29 at 12:00PM. For assistance with this process, please email Kristen or call x255. Read more »

Uncovering Siddur Lev Shalem: A Conversation with Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

Saturday, March 24 | 5:00PM | BJ Reception Room
Join Rabbi Roly Matalon in conversation with Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, 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.

Taanit Bekhorot Siyyum and Se’udat Mitzvah

Friday, March 30 | Following Morning Minyan | BJ Sanctuary 
All are welcome to join Rabbinic Fellow Tobias Divack Moss as he leads us in the completion of a volume of rabbinic literature. All firstborns in attendance are then permitted to eat and break the Fast of the Firstborn.

Hakhanah laTefillah

Saturday, March 31 | 8:45-9:00AM | 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.

Monday Minha Meditation

Mondays beginning April 9 | 6:30-7:00PM | BJ Chapel

The Center for Prayer and Spirituality is thrilled to launch this new mindfulness initiative. Join us on Monday evenings for a community sit, as we work toward building a sustained communal meditation practice. The Monday Minha Meditations will contain explorations of guided teachings, meditation techniques, and silent sits, and will also provide an opportunity for community members to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish. No registration necessary. Whether you are experienced in meditation or are thinking about beginning a practice, all are welcome.

Yom HaShoah Commemoration

Wednesday, April 11 | 6:30PM | BJ Sanctuary
Join us in commemoration of Yom HaShoah for the reading and hearing of the names of those killed in the Shoah, with special participation by our 7th grade Kadima@BJ class. This ceremony will be immediately followed by a powerful musical program, Voices of Spiritual Resistance in Terezín.

An all-night vigil will begin at 10:00PM at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (15 West 86th Street), where the BJ reading slot will be from 12:30AM to 1:00AM.

Mindfulness Kabbalat Shabbat

Friday, April 13 | 7:00PM | BJ Community House 3rd Floor
Join us for an intimate service featuring meditation, reflection, deep listening, and personal engagement with the parashah. Please email Kristen Kersey or call her at x255 with any questions.

Haleli Nafshi

Saturday, April 14 | 7:30PM | 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, May 5, 7:45PM.

Ritual Lab: Preparing for an Emptier Nest

Tuesdays, April 17 and 24, and May 1 and 8 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Middle Room

Continuing with our series of Ritual Labsin which we explore and co-create rituals to mark some of life’s most meaningful transitionsour next cohort will delve into the experience of parents whose children are leaving the home and beginning adulthood. Whether it’s your oldest, youngest, intermediate or only child leaving the home, this is a transition with profound impact on family systems. Join Rabbi Michael Boino and 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 this transition.

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!

Bo-i Kallah

Friday, April 20 | 7:00PM | BJ Reception Room
Join Rabbi Roly Matalon, Music Director Dan Nadel and Deborah Sacks Mintz 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