These are some of the workshops that Rabbi Shefa teaches. Please contact her by submitting a message through the Contact Us page to learn more or to schedule a workshop or retreat.
Becoming Whole / Becoming Healers
The archetype of The Wounded Healer points us towards the path of becoming whole in order to become healers. This wondrous path leads us through self-awareness, self-compassion and compassion for all the world to becoming a healing presence — radiant, whole and available to the God-light that will shine through our unique refraction.
We will transform the idea of Tikkun Olam from one of FIXING a world that is broken, to one of HEALING a world that we love.
We will reclaim the parts of ourselves that have been split off in moments of trauma, and release the residue of shame and alienation that keeps us from connecting with Unity Consciousness.
The Magic of Hebrew Chant:
Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love
It turns out that the magic words of creation, transformation, healing and the expression of our infinite depths have been hidden in plain sight in the words of our inheritance – words that lie sleeping on the page, just waiting for our love to arouse them. So many words, buried in books, seem all but dead. When I find the divine breath within me and resuscitate those words, they come alive and become vehicle of power and healing. They become incantations.
In this workshop, we will explore the power and magic of Hebrew Chant as we transform the words of prayer into spiritual practice.
An Exploration of Gratefulness
Gratefulness is the foundation of our spiritual practice. Our liturgy teaches us that the very first words uttered each morning are to be words of thanksgiving. Our morning prayer of gratefulness is designed to open our hearts and energize us to step onto the path of Holiness.
Yet so often we get caught in the habits of complaint. We lose sight of the miracle of each moment. Our enthusiasm, inspiration, receptivity and generosity are eclipsed by the stresses of Life. When we fall prey to the cynicism and jadedness of the dominant culture, we lose the opened-eyed innocence and radical amazement that is necessary for the Life of Gratefulness.
In this workshop, we will explore this quality in our lives and learn practices that cultivate, nurture and refine our ability to feel and express gratefulness. We will use the practices of text study, chant, meditation and holy conversation to uncover the obstacles to gratefulness and each learn how to deal with our particular challenge.
The Power and Purpose of Ecstatic Practice
The experience of ecstasy fulfills a basic human need for the expansion of consciousness beyond the bounds of cultural conditioning. Ecstatic practice, when engaged in responsibly, purposefully, methodically, and with a heightened awareness, can give us valuable glimpses into the truth of Unity Consciousness.
What makes true ecstatic practice different than “getting high” is that, through awareness, the impact of our practice can be integrated into the fabric of our lives. Our practice can be infused with the question: How do I live in the light of this truth that I have glimpsed? Through experience, reflection, and inquiry, we will explore the power and purpose of ecstatic practice, both its dangers and gifts, and its role in our journey of transformation. (See Kallah 2016.)
Power and the Open Heart
As we prepare for Revelation we must cultivate and balance two qualities: One is the quality of open heartedness, so that we might receive the gift, wisdom, love, challenge or blessing that God has for us. And two is to build the personal power that can allow us to stand up in covenant with God as co-creator of this moment, this life, this world. In this experiential workshop we will explore these two qualities as we journey together to Sinai.
T’shuvah: Let us Turn, Return and Be Turned
In this workshop in preparation for the High Holy Days we will explore three aspects of T’shuvah. How do we turn away from that which is draining us of Life-force, and turn towards that which Life-giving? How do we return to a sense of belonging, authenticity and connection to the whole of Creation? How do we surrender to the Great Mystery that is holding us, transforming us and loving us unconditionally?
Kindling the Sparks,
Tending the Flames Within
As the days grow short and the night darkness long, we are invited into the mysteries of dying and rebirth. Many spiritual traditions honor this passage. Judaism, too, has its process of diving deep into the depths of our souls and, while there, kindling the sparks of mystery and tending to the sacred flames within. The spiritual potential of Chanukah is filled with nothing less than the miraculous!
If you are intrigued by the prospect of entering into the winter’s sacred mystery through a door of spiritual practice inspired by Judaism, if you feel called to reclaim the festival of Chanukah as something more than draydels and latkes, join Rabbi Shefa Gold in this retreat of celebration and rededication.
Chanukah celebrates the re-dedication of the ancient Holy Temple, the physical nexus point unifying holiness in spirit and in matter. Each year we recall the “great miracle that happened there.” Together we will celebrate the “Great Miracle” that is happening right here within us and between us as we use the art of Sacred Chant to call light into our own places of darkness, kindling the sparks and tending the flames of the holy depths within
Developing the Sacred Phrase
This workshop will demonstrate how the sacred phrase (from scripture or liturgy) can be developed and refined into a spiritual practice. Using techniques that utilize the power of melody, visualization, repetition, text-study, imagery, movement, and breath, we will explore the potential and relevance of the sacred phrase for our spiritual practice.
Exploring the Landscape of Love Through the Song of Songs
“The whole Torah is Holy,” says Rabbi Akiva, “but The Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.” Furthermore he said that “Had the Torah not been given, we could live our lives by the Song of Songs.” What would it mean to place this erotic, sensual, sexually explicit and most beautiful poem at the center of our tradition? What would it mean to live our lives by the Song of Songs? How can we use this text as a guide in growing our love for each other and for The Great Mystery that is God? These are the questions that Jewish mystics have wrestled with for thousands of years.
In this workshop, we will enter into the landscape of this Sacred Song through the practices of chant, meditation, and the contemplation of our path as Lovers.
Preparing for Chanukah:
Opening our Eyes to Miracle
Chanukah celebrates the re-dedication of the ancient Holy Temple, the physical nexus point unifying holiness in spirit and in matter. Each year we recall the “great miracle that happened there.” Together we will celebrate the “Great Miracle” that is happening right here within us and between us as we use the art of Sacred Chant to call light into our own places of darkness, kindling the sparks and tending the flames of the holy depths within.
Journeying through Torah
In this Journeying workshop we will traverse the landscape of Torah using the practices of chant and contemplation. Music can open the heart to the deeper truths of Torah and Silence can give us an opportunity to receive and integrate those truths. We will enter into the mystery of Torah through the practice of Chant, the musical meditative celebration of a key sacred phrase that unlocks the secrets of our own hearts.
We will look through a wide-perspective lens at each of the Five Books in order to receive insights into the entire flow of the Journey of Soul. (I offer this framework which has been useful to me in my journey so that you can try it on.) We will come to the text and ask the question, “What is this really about?” Asking this question is a sacred act. When we keep in mind (and heart) the reminder that Torah is the story of our soul’s journey and can help us to step onto our path with conscious devotion, then there’s less chance that we’ll get lost or trapped in the myriad details of the text. We can dedicate our understanding of those details to the overall context and underlying purpose of this journey of Torah.
We will receive these teachings:
- The Book of Genesis as a text about INCARNATION.
- The Book of Exodus as a text about LIBERATION.
- The Book of Leviticus as a text about HOLINESS.
- The Book of Numbers as a text about JOURNEY.
- The Book of Deuteronomy as a text about PRACTICE.
These over-arching themes will help us to receive the words of Torah and put them to good use in our own process of Self-Realization, Growth, Healing and the unfolding awareness of our Soul-Journey.
In this Journeying workshop we will traverse the landscape of Torah using the practices of chant, contemplation, text-study and ritual.
(Bring a Chumash — any translation you like — and an open heart.)
Preparing for Revelation
In counting the days of the Omer, we are preparing ourselves to become the vessels for God’s Presence and messengers for the Divine Word. God instructs Moses to tell us to make ourselves holy for the Day of Revelation, to wash our garments and get ready!
We will joyfully prepare for revelation with this evening of Hebrew Chant. The Chant will help us connect with our longing for Truth, clear our minds, open our hearts and strengthen our commitment to receive Torah anew.
The Art of Praise
Perek Shirah is an ancient Jewish text that is a celebration of Praise for The Creator. All of Creation has a voice in this celebration. The Heavens, the Earth and all the creatures large and small are quoted. Fruits, vegetables, all kinds of birds, clouds, rivers, fish, frogs, insects, lizards, snails and all the animals of the Wild join in with their song of Praise.
Together we will study Perek Shirah and be swept up into this holy chorus. What can we learn from the Creatures that abound in our world? How can we listen to the Song of Creation and let it instruct us in the Art of Praise?
We will attempt to unlock the secrets of Perek Shira through the practices of Chant, Silence, Imagination, Study, Movement and Stillness.
The Lessons of the River
I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
— John O’Donohue
We will learn from the river how to pay attention to what obstructs the flow. The river shows us that we are connected to the source of all life through gratefulness, through receptivity, through openness. That Source-place is within, overflowing. Everything in life changes. The river knows this well, changing constantly… and yet, it is only the forms that change. The river calls us to self-awareness. As the river keeps on giving itself, we keep opening to receive its nourishment. The place of fearful stinginess in our hearts is cracked wide open to reveal our true generosity. The river teaches us to float, to be carried forward. The river shows us how to say “Yes,” to every obstacle, to trust the onward motion of life. We will search for the calm surface that reveals the depths and then look for those same depths within. Through chant, reflection, and holy conversation with Nature, we will receive and embody these lessons of the river.
The Path of Love
The Torah commands that you must love God “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” You are commanded to “love the stranger” and “to love your neighbor as your self.” And you are asked to receive God’s love in the form of Torah, community, history and the wonders of Nature. These commandments about love are at the heart of Torah. They constitute at the same time, the most simple and the most complicated challenge of living a holy life.
The Path of Love, of rising to the challenge of learning to love and be loved, is the most rigorous spiritual path there is. Stepping onto the Path of Love, I am faced with every resistance, every illusion, every obstacle to self-realization. In this workshop of deep heart work, we will use text, voice, meditation, movement and sacred conversation to explore the landscape of Love. How do we love God through this world? How do we receive God’s love through this world? How do we become intimate with the Mystery behind each moment of our lives?
The Spiritual Practice of Sukkot
Ever since God asked Adam, “Eyeka?” (Where are you?) we have been given the challenge of orienting ourselves, of finding our center in relationship to the world around us. When we know where we stand in relation to all aspects of Life, then we can call on each of those aspects as our allies. We can receive the gifts of Life and integrate those gifts into the center of our being.
The holiday of Sukkot gives us a profound tool for this process of centering. When we wave the Lulav, we are calling in the winds (the energies of each of the directions) so that we can become receptive to those energies.
In this Sukkot workshop we will use the practices of chant, movement and meditation to explore the nature of each of the Directions as we call those energies into our lives.
The Babylonian name of the month of Elul has been thought of as an acronym for Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li (I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine) which is a line from Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs). As we prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days, we spend the month of Elul repairing the very foundation of our connection to the Great Mystery.
On Tishab’Av we experience a necessary shattering of that relationship and then spend the next 7 weeks returning, re-creating ourselves, and finally re-encountering that Mystery during the High Holy Days.
What is the journey from devastation to renewal?
The Shattering of Tishab’Av is also marked by the seeding of a profoundly hopeful vision- the birth of the Messiah or of Messianic consciousness. How do we water that seed? How do we nurture the seedling and honor its growth?
We are guided and inspired through this journey by 7 amazing texts- the haftorot of consolation, readings from Isaiah that show us the pathway from desolation to comfort, from utter destruction to dazzling hope.
In this workshop we will enter the mysteries of Elul through study, chant, meditation and sacred conversation.
Healing Pharaoh’s Heart
In the Book of Exodus we learn that in order to embark on the journey to Freedom, we must first encounter Pharaoh, that place in us that is the Tyrant. God commands us, “Bo ayl Paro!” Come in to Pharaoh. God must be speaking from inside the heart of Pharaoh, the heart that has been hardened by grief, despair, stubbornness, fear and struggle.
In this workshop we will do the work of understanding and treating the four distinct Heart diseases of Pharaoh, so that we can learn to soften our own hardened hearts and journey to Freedom.
Through text study, breath-work, chanting, meditation and inner journeying, we will explore the heart of Pharaoh and give our own hearts the loving attention that is required for healing.
Reconnecting with Body, Earth, and the Wholeness of Life Through Rituals of Our Wisdom Tradition
The root of the word religion means “to bind.” Somehow we get disconnected from our own true essence. Through the best of religion, we gather together to find our way back; to build a life of connected-ness. In this class, we will first explore the ways we have become separated from our own bodies, from the earth on which we dwell and from the wholeness of Creation. We will measure the price of that separation and find within us and between us the power of our deepest longing for connection. That longing can become the fuel for rituals of return.
Our rituals will draw on the Wisdom texts of Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. We will celebrate and re-connect using chant, movement, reflection and sacred dialogue.
Torah Journeys: Receiving the Blessing and Rising to the Challenge of Torah Through Spiritual Practice
In this workshop we will learn spiritual practices that help us to rise to the challenge of Torah. We will share with you a method of approaching the Torah which involves receiving her blessing and discerning the spiritual challenge that the text points to in our lives.
Spiritual Gardening ~
Gardening in the Soil of the Heart
During the dark and cold time of year we can find within us a fertile garden. Here we can consciously grow the qualities that will best serve us in realizing our true Divine essence. In the Jewish Tradition these qualities are called “midot.” The Jewish path is all about cultivating, through intention and practice, qualities like compassion, courage, openness, lovingkindness, honesty, surrender, strength, humility or patience. In this workshop we will set ourselves on a path of cultivating exactly the midot that are required of us now in order to live a holy life. We will utilize the modalities of chant, silent contemplation, self-examination, holy conversation, prayer and imagery to plant a precious seed in the soil of the heart , face the obstacles to growth and nurture our Divine potential.
Ozi v’zimrat Yah:
My Strength and God-Song:
Working with the Energy Body
No matter what is happening outside of us, each of us is responsible for our own state of consciousness. If we are to respond wisely and compassionately in difficult situations, then we need to develop a practice that will allow us access to the full power of soul, a wide perspective and a strong calm center. In this workshop we will explore practices that clear and strengthen the energy body, giving us a pathway from survival brain reactivity to mature brain clarity. Using chant, drumming, meditation, imagery, and movement, we will draw on the wisdom of our ancestors and create a strategy for staying open to the God-song while building the strength to sustain a spiritual practice through difficult times.
The Art of Rejoicing
There are many words for “Joy” in our tradition. (They say that eskimos have many words for “snow”, because they wanted to express the subtle differences in texture temperature and moisture.) All our words for joy express varying aspects of the great force that must be unlocked if we are to serve God, come into our power, and expand our perception and expression. The Joy that I’m talking about exists as a foundational reality within us, and is not dependent on outer circumstance.
In this workshop we will explore ten different aspects of joy, ten facets that make up the prism of our rejoicing. Shining the light of awareness through each of these facets, we’ll study both the obstacles that block that light, and the tools/practices that will help us to cultivate that clear access to the power of our rejoicing.
The Exodus Process
The exodus as a model for our Journey…
The Book of Exodus contains the secrets to our liberation. As we examine our personal journeys, we can use the map of Exodus to understand the stages we must move through on our spiritual paths.
Exodus takes us through these stages:
- Awareness of enslavement Crossing the Sea (taking the leap of Faith)
- Wandering in the Wilderness (entering upon the path of purification)
- Receiving Revelation (Opening ourselves to transformation)
- Building the Mishkan (Making our lives into a place where the Presence of God can dwell)
The Ground of Emunah:
Cultivating Basic Trust
On the spiritual path, there comes a time when one must leap into a seeming abyss, into the unknown, where the structures of our constructed ego/personality dissolve in glimpse of the Great Mystery. What allows us to take that leap is the presence of the quality of basic trust or Emunah.
A.H. Almaas defines “Basic Trust” as ” a non-conceptual confidence in the goodness of the universe, an unquestioned implicit trust that there is something about the universe and human nature and life that is inherently and fundementally good, loving and wishing us the best.”
Without this quality, one cannot take that leap (into expanded reality), and will instead hold on for dear life to a rigid and constricted view of self and the world.
In this class we will explore the traditional wisdom concerning emunah, and trust-in-God, and then investigate the relative presence or absence of this quality in ourselves. Using the modalities, of chant, meditation, study, inner journeying and imagery, we will illuminate both the trust and the betrayal which is at our core, and set ourselves on the path of cultivating the basic trust which can be the springboard for our journey.
The path of Ecstasy involves practices that cultivate mind-states that allow for the shattering or dissolution of the fixed boundaries of self. The goal of the practice is a life lived with the continuous awareness of God’s Presence. After entering through the doors that have been opened in the ecstatic state, we will explore four functions of consciousness that can be cultivated in the silence.
- The ability to focus attention.
- Korban: The art of letting go of content.
- T’shuvah: The art of returning (to the intention to be in God’s Presence).
- Mesirat Nefesh: The surrendering of small self to that transforming Presence.
We will work (and play) at cultivating the qualities that are necessary in order to fulfill these four functions. Our exploration will utilize the modalities of silence, chant, movement, self- examination, study, prayer and imagery. The retreat will move from deep silence to conscious speech and the joyful celebration of Shabbat.
Healing Through Chant
“In acts of genuine expression, what goes on between the soul of man and the word of prayer is more than an act of employment, of using words as if they were tools. Here the soul and the word react upon each other: the word is a creative force.” (Rabbi A.J. Heschel)
In my work with the practice of Chant, I have found that the word of prayer can also be a powerful healing force. Using elements of tone, pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, breath patterns, visualization and the refinement of the intention, the sacred phrase can become the vehicle for both diagnosis and treatment. In this workshop, we will explore these elements, and working to generate and focus the healing power that is unleashed in the meeting of soul and word.
Preparation for Pesach:
The Purification of the Heart
In preparation for the journey of Pesach, from slavery into freedom, we often get caught in the details of cleaning, Passover dishes, searching through our houses for Chametz, cooking, preparing for guests. What is often ignored is the process of inner preparation- the purification of the heart.
In this workshop, we will explore that process of inner preparation for the journey to Freedom. In a 13th century text, Obadya Maimonides compares the heart to a very old pool clogged with dirt and mire. Our spiritual practice consists of the purification, cleansing and purging of the heart, so that we may experience the Living Waters which connect us with our Source in God. Our access to those Living Waters will determine our readiness for the journey that the festival of Passover requires.
Using the modalities of text study, chant, meditation, imagery and inner journeying, we will explore the landscape of the heart and search for the hidden chametz -those soured places within us that can lead to the leavening or inflation of ego. In addition to Obadya’s text, The Treatise of the Pool, we will draw on the Song of Songs as a map of the journey towards freedom.
Building Spiritual Community
The purpose of this seminar is to learn the spiritual practice of community. The Muslim mystic Mevlana Rumi says, “The company of others quickens our journey Home.” We might add that it sometimes makes the journey seem more difficult. That is because when we become intimate with others, whatever we are hiding from God, or from ourselves, or from each other will be revealed. Every hidden wound will be made visible in order that it may be healed. Spiritual community quickens the process. Community also reveals our courage, strength and compassion. It calls forth the best in us.
Shefa will be teaching a method of dedicating ones energies in service to the spiritual group. In doing this, one must first become sensitive to the energy of the group and perceive what is needed for its wholeness and integrity so that the group can offer its light and power to the world. Then a repertoire of skills must be cultivated in order to respond to those needs.
Using the practice of chant, she will teach about eight specific functions of energy that are necessary in a spiritual group. We will practice each of these functions and find in ourselves the love and commitment to apply them.
From Rachmiel’s years of experience as a Professional Counselor and Energy Body Practitioner, he will present:
- How and why working or living together in spiritual community inevitably creates situations where conflict arises with one another — even as your love for each other deepens — and the tendency for the system to become rigid (hard) and dogmatic over time.
- Creative, interactive, heart-based practices to face, feel, understand and heal the source of that conflict and rigidity, and experience a deeper level of spiritual kinship with one another.
- The practice of Compassionate Listening and the Energy Discharge Process as a powerful model for healing emotional/psychological hurts.
- Practical methods and practices to keep your own presence clear so that your highest intentions can be manifested.
Our time together will be a laboratory of community where we will learn to serve each other and serve the higher purpose and potential of the group. We will explore to find just the right balance of work, play, celebration, self-examination, service and humor. Our time together will culminate in the joyous celebration of Shabbat, which is a time for opening to the miracle of our existence.
The Power of Intention
In this class, we’ll explore the Power of Intention through practices of chant, imagination, self-awareness and an examination of how thought influences the powers of presence, perception and creativity. We’ll unlock the treasures of Torah and liturgy, and learn how to use the sacred phrase to cultivate receptivity, generosity, compassion and courage as we walk the path of Service and Self-Realization. Along the way we’ll open up a dialogue with resistance, and develop strategies to evolve our spiritual practice.
The Art of Chant as Devotional Healing
Chanting, the melodic repetition of a sacred phrase, has the capacity of generating a great deal of energy. This energy has the potential of being focused and directed as a healing force. You can also use chanting to open your center of spirit and body, allowing the sounds to move through, transforming your small self into radiating transmitters of God’s love. In this workshop you will use the chant to help you touch and purify your deepest intentions to serve. Together, the class will explore and enhance the healing potential of chant.