Awakening in Challenging Times: A Pardes & Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat

Program Description

We live in challenging times full of uncertainty. How do we continue to be our best selves in the midst of this challenge? How do we find a center of calm stability even in the midst of instability and confusion? How do we reconnect with our divine nature and essential joy and love so that we can most effectively be agents of transformation for ourselves, our communities, our societies and the world?

Our tradition is alas no stranger to instability, upheaval and threat and so can provide us with deep resources for clarity, openness and vitality at times of challenge. Combining prayer, mindfulness meditation, silence, text study, and other modes of Jewish spiritual practice, this virtual retreat will introduce participants to the profound depths of Jewish spirituality and offer the possibility of finding clarity and presence in an ever-changing world and life-transforming meaning in the Jewish tradition.

Most of the retreat will be spent in silence, meditation, and yoga, including meditation instruction and questions and answers. There will also be daily teachings as well as text study and discussion, and additional spiritual practices that complement and support our meditation practice. Beginners and more advanced practitioners are welcome.

Registration has now closed.

Rabbi James Jacobson Maisels Ph.D. is the founder and executive director of Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation ( He has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for almost twenty-five years. He received his Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago and rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes, the Rosh Yeshivah of Pardes. He has taught Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University, Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study and practice and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.

Liat Melnick is a teacher and facilitator integrating mindfulness, social justice pedagogy and Judaism. They lead workshops in a variety of settings and organize and teach on meditation retreats. They serve as a curriculum writer for Shine Diversity and lead trainings in Trans/Queer/LGB inclusion. Their teaching seeks to strengthen the resiliency, joy and leadership of marginalized people and activists as part of a justice strategy that follows the lead of those most impacted by systems of oppression. Liat earned a B.A. in Religion, Psychology and Judaic Studies from Goucher College and is currently training to be a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.

Rabbi Dev Noily serves as Senior Rabbi at Kehilla Community Synagogue in the Chochenyo Ohlone territory of Huichin/Oakland, California. Dev trained as a Jewish Meditation teacher with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and has led a weekly (now twice weekly) Jewish meditation sit for the past seven years. Dev is especially drawn to the places where spiritual practice and justice building meet. They are a co-founder of Jews on Ohlone Land, and of 700 Benches: Queer Talmud for Everyone, a SVARA-inspired beit midrash.

Yael Shy is the CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC, where she teaches and consults on mindfulness for universities, corporations, and private clients around the world. She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and the founder of Mindful NYU, the largest campus-based mindfulness initiative in the US. Yael is the Mindfulness Program Director for the photography museum, Fotografiska: New York City, a teacher at Or Ha Lev, MNDFL and Roundglass, and a regular contributor to the Ten Percent Happier app. She has over a decade of teaching and consulting experience and nearly 20 years of meditation practice experience in Jewish, Zen and secular contexts. She is certified in Jewish Meditation from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is the co-creator and co-teacher of the popular Pardes/Or HaLev Awakening the Divine retreat. To find out how to work with Yael, visit

Rabbi Shuli Passow is an educator and community organizer with 15 years experience working in the Jewish community. She has been teaching yoga for nine years and is thrilled to be returning for her seventh year teaching on this retreat. Shuli currently serves as the director of community engagement at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, and is a board member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

Shira Abramowitz is a mindfulness teacher, group learning specialist, and the executive director of Summit Impact, a nonprofit platform for collaboration for social good. She spends much of her time designing social learning environments where compassionate practice invites deeper learning and collective action. For the past seven years, Shira has been regularly attending and now teaching on meditation retreats. She has co-led weekly sitting groups in a few different cities, led meditation programs in organizational settings, and completed the Institute of Jewish Spirituality teacher training program. Shira earned a bachelor of commerce from McGill University and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus on social cognitive neuroscience and group learning.


This virtual retreat schedule will be centered on East Coast Time but the full live program will also be accessible for anyone in North America. Those in other time zones, such as Europe, are welcome to register and participate live during the hours which are possible for them and listen to recorded content the next morning (all talks and teachings will be recorded and made available, during the retreat, to retreat participants). We will take into your account your time zone in assigning you to meditation group meetings with teachers so that you will be assigned to meetings that are possible at your timezone.

The retreat will begin late morning (East Coast time) Sunday and conclude early afternoon on Friday.

Sample schedule of a typical day:

Pacific Eastern UK Israel Public Schedule
4:30 AM 7:30 AM 12:30 PM 2:30 PM Wake up
5:00 AM 8:00 AM 1:00 PM 3:00 PM Sit
5:45 AM 8:45 AM 1:45 PM 3:45 PM Walk or Individual Prayer Time or Breakfast
6:30 AM 9:30 AM 2:30 PM 4:30 PM Chanting
7:15 AM 10:15 AM 3:15 PM 5:15 PM Walk or Individual Prayer Time or Breakfast
8:00 AM 11:00 AM 4:00 PM 6:00 PM Sit with Instructions
8:45 AM 11:45 AM 4:45 PM 6:45 PM Walk
9:15 AM 12:15 PM 5:15 PM 7:15 PM Sit + Q&A
10:15 AM 1:15 PM 6:15 PM 8:15 PM Walk & Lunch
11:00 AM 2:00 PM 7:00 PM 9:00 PM Teaching 1
12:00 PM 3:00 PM 8:00 PM 10:00 PM Walk
12:30 PM 3:30 PM 8:30 PM 10:30 PM Blessing Practice
1:15 PM 4:15 PM 9:15 PM 11:15 PM Walk
1:45 PM 4:45 PM 9:45 PM 11:45 PM Sit
2:15 PM 5:15 PM 10:15 PM 12:15 AM Yoga
3:30 PM 6:30 PM 11:30 PM 1:30 AM Dinner & Walk
4:15 PM 7:15 PM 12:15 AM 2:15 AM Sit
5:00 PM 8:00 PM 1:00 AM 3:00 AM Walk
5:30 PM 8:30 PM 1:30 AM 3:30 AM Teaching 2
6:30 PM 9:30 PM 2:30 AM 4:30 AM Closing Sit or Evening Spiritual Practice

Participating in a virtual retreat is a different experience but one which we have found to be deeply supportive and powerful for participants. This retreat is an immersive experience. Having said that, we know participating from home carries a whole host of new and different challenges. We therefore understand that participants may need some flexibility in managing their home responsibilities and retreat participation, but ask you to commit to serious participation in the retreat as you are able. Ultimately, you will receive from the retreat what you are able to put in. After you register, we’ll be in touch with more particulars about how to prepare for retreat at home in the most effective way possible.

Because this is a virtual retreat, participants may register from all over the world. The core time zone for this retreat will be East Coast time in North America. The full schedule will be accessible live to anyone in any of the North American time zones. For those who wish to participate from other time zones, and will not be able to be present for all the live teachings, all instructions and teachings will be recorded and may be listened to at a time that makes sense for you. We will endeavor to make chanting, meditation instructions, and at least one of the two main teachings each day happen at times that should be accessible live to people in European/Israeli time zones as well. All participants will be placed in meditation meetings with the teachers at times that are accessible from their time zone.

We provide multiple rates of tuition to make the retreat affordable and, at the same time, to enable those who can pay a little more to support our ability to provide scholarships to those who cannot afford the standard rate. If you are able to come on the retreat at the supporter rate, we are extremely grateful!

Standard: $399
Supporter: $599

Additional limited financial aid off the standard price is available. Please apply online and request financial aid as part of the application process. We will review your request and get back to you.

There are a limited number of needs-based scholarships available. Financial aid is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Registration is closed.

Contact with any questions or for more information.