Who inspires you? Who do you look to for spiritual guidance and nourishment? Perhaps it is your rabbi. Or your cantor. If so, then this begs the question, “Who inspires THEM?” Hineni of Talmud Torah of St. Paul is offering a summer series — Who Inspires You? Eight Rabbis and a Cantor Respond — to explore this question in depth.
The free series, which began on June 19, is offered in collaboration with local synagogues and continues through August 16 at various locations across the Twin Cities. It features prominent congregational leaders sharing their sources of inspiration. These sources of inspiration are diverse indeed, ranging from contemporary Israeli peace activists to poet Marge Piercy to the Daughters of Zelophchad.
Hineni’s course offerings are as diverse and varied as our local clergy’s sources of inspiration, but whether they are physical, contemplative, or educational, they all implore us to ask life’s big questions. The Hebrew word Hineni translates to: I am present, I am here, I am ready. This declaration of presence and readiness is a part of everyone’s soul. But tapping into this presence takes time, practice, and dedication. The Hineni program lives up to its name, offering an array of adult Jewish education classes as well as contemplative practices. According to its director, Sara Lynn Newberger, “Wherever you stand in relation to Jewish tradition, you are invited to join Hineni’s dedicated instructors as together you’ll explore the richness of Judaism and the sacred within and around us.”
Hineni’s programs press us to consider, what is our hineni moment? How can we be more present and attentive? How can we be ready for life’s joys and challenges? How can we be here for ourselves, our loved ones, and God? How can we find the courage to exist in this present moment in time, a time that is so fraught with violence and despair? How can Jewish teachings help us find our way through the darkness towards illumination and healing?
Many of Hineni’s programs are offered in collaboration with synagogues and Jewish agencies from across the Twin Cities. This community approach is intentionally meant to attract participants from a diverse array of backgrounds, experiences, and geographical locations. This variety of perspectives enriches class discussions and enhances new friendships as participants explore life’s big questions together in supportive, safe spaces.
Hineni’s silent meditation retreats are among its most popular offerings. The retreats, firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, exemplify the bringing together of deep Jewish teachings with spiritual practices. One participant described the retreats as “shabbat for the body” and another remarked: “When there is quiet and no distraction, grasping and aversion fall away and allow wisdom to be present.” This pairing of the contemplative with the Jewish is also highlighted in Hineni’s ongoing classes in mindfulness, chanting, and meditation.
Whether you’re searching for inspiration, community, or to connect more fully with your Judaism, Hineni programs welcome you. Just as you are. Exactly as you are. The only thing you’ll need to bring is an open mind and a willing heart.