“I have been able to find a stronger center in myself to which I can return so that I am not shaken by the daily ups and downs of congregational life.”

— Rabbi Rona Shapiro

Stories of Transformation

Tirza and Melila

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell

As a college freshman, standing one night in the basement of my fraternity, beer in hand, I saw in a flash that the way I was living did not make me happy and never would. I knew that I needed to figure out how to live a more meaningful life.

Years later, as a rabbinical student with regular meditation and yoga practices, I found the Institute. Throughout my training and teaching with the Institute, I have felt enormously grateful for this warm, smart, and authentically Jewish home for spiritual growth and renewal.


Rabbi Rachel Cowan

Through our ups and downs, the work comes powerfully to help us know love and joy, and to be with pain. We grow only through practice, with input and guidance from teachers and fellow seekers. I am so grateful for what I have learned during my years with the Institute. I have grown in my ability to hold what comes, with reasonable equanimity, to remain open to new possibilities, and overcome obstacles with greater clarity.

Larry Schwartz

Ten years ago a friend invited me to participate in one of the Institute’s first spiritual learning groups. That year changed my life. Prior to the Institute, Judaism was mostly what I did on Shabbat and holidays. But after immersion in texts and practices, with fellow seekers and inspiring teachers, I started to integrate my emerging Jewish perspective into my entire life.

I started alternative services at my synagogue. I began reading Torah in a new way. Two friends and I started the Jewish Meditation Center of Montclair, New Jersey, in a local yoga studio. I now know that I don’t have to be alone on this Jewish journey. And neither do you.

Jeff Farbman

I have a fabulous wife and charming kids, the good fortune to have attended some very fine schools, and the privilege of practicing neurology. But at some point, everything felt hollow. I began to think that there must be something more from life.

So I joined one of the Institute’s programs, and slowly but surely I began to change in significant ways. This helped me save a patient’s life. A 24-year-old came into the ER and everyone thought he had meningitis. A voice deep inside said, “Something is wrong.”

I took a deep breath and told myself to be present, in the moment. I said, “Tell me your story.” Based on what I heard and observed, I ordered new tests and we discovered a rare defect. I was able to hear that voice because of the Institute and the tools I learned. These tools have changed my life.

Laura Hegfield, Educator

My life has become smaller and bigger all at the same time. Smaller, because I don’t get out of the house very often due to MS; bigger because I blog and have met amazing people. I’ve worked in an online healing circle with women living with chronic illness. If I had not spent 18 months learning with the Institute, I wouldn’t have the knowledge that guides me as their guide!