Kol Zimra: Chant Leader’s Professional Development
A Two-Year Training Program
Led by Rabbi Shefa Gold and Rachmiel O’Regan
In the West assisted by: Judith Dack and Yaffa Schnitzer
In the East assisted by: Rabbi Phyllis Berman and Carl Woolf
NOTE: The final Kol Zimra training was given by Rabbi Shefa Gold in January, 2018. For Rabbi Shefa’s current offerings, including SOULIFT, see the Schedule page.
Co-sponsored by C-DEEP: Center for Devotional Energy & Ecstatic Practice
A Project of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
The Kol Zimra Chant Leader’s Training was specifically designed as a professional development program for Rabbis, Cantors and Lay Leaders, Meditation Teachers, Rosh Chodesh Leaders, Healers, Prayer Leaders, Support Group Facilitators, and Artists of Ritual.
About Kol Zimra Leadership Training
Chanting, the melodic and rhythmic repetition of a sacred phrase, is a way of transforming the words of liturgy and Torah into doorways to expanded states of consciousness. The chant can attune us to ever-deepening levels of meaning, unlock the treasures of the heart, and give us an opportunity to generously serve each other. This Chant Training was an opportunity to explore this powerful ecstatic practice with both rigorous attention to detail and expansive enjoyment of its transformative effects. Participants were asked to organize a chanting group in their own communities in order to develop and refine the skills of chant and group energy. We learned about the dynamics and potential of a spiritual group, using our own group as a living laboratory.
At Kol Zimra, we built a Mishkan for spiritual work. The sacred phrase becomes the tool of that building project. By using that tool, we were gradually initiated into an intimate relationship with text. The sacred text becomes our modality for… healing, community-building, deep inner exploration, the doorway into meditative states, cultivating midot, connection with the ancestors, with God and with our deepest truth.
The sacred phrase becomes the doorway into greater awareness, deeper love and the kind of connection with community and God, that can sustain us in our practice and in our leadership. We studied text and the many dimensions of intention that fuel and animate the text.
We engaged in ritual and then we reflected on what exactly did that ritual accomplish; what doors were opened; what were the components that effected transformation.
Using the laboratory of our own community, we explored the “shadow” and our own resistances to intimacy with each other, God and spiritual practice. We learned how to dedicate our practice in service and brought awareness to what keeps us from that service. We supported each other in growing our leadership and crafting practices that will sustain us in leadership.
We explored the power of breath, melody, harmony, rhythm, and tone to bring Life to the sacred phrase so that it can become a transformative tool. This is how liturgy comes off the page and into our hearts. This is how Torah becomes a Living force.
We learned the art of stereoscopic consciousness (keeping a dual awareness on the group energy AND our own deepest presence). We learned to ground energy and open to guidance and studued the functions of liturgy. We learned to inquire into the nature and purpose of ecstatic states, so that our awareness might become a bridge to access those states when needed. We explored the geography of The Heart.
Kol Zimra Curriculum
- First Retreat: Forming the container for Sacred Work/Clarifying Intention
The Basics of Chant – Exploring the Uses of a Sacred Phrase and the Variables that Effect Consciousness. Cultivated Midot, qualities of Presence. Discerned and Practiced the Eight Functions of Consciousness in a Spiritual Group. Explored the “Shadow” as it arises in group dynamics. Maintained the energy body.
- Second Retreat: An Elemental Journey – Deepened and expanded spiritual vocabulary through an exploration of the Elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air. By discerning the gift, excess, deprivation and misdirection of these elemental forces, used chant to open to God’s Presence in ourselves and our world.
- Third Retreat: Chant as Medicine – Entered into the mysteries of chant as vehicle of healing our hidden places of trauma, turning the sacred phrase into medicine for the residue of isolation, grief, fear and despair. Explored a Sacred Text in ways that reveal its medicine. Learned how to construct a chanting service.
- Fourth Retreat: Chant as a Healing Modality – In the final retreat, used what we have learned to engage in a healing practice based on the model of the Mishkan. Learned the silent meditation practice of Devekut that can form the foundation of our Chant and leadership.