Pursuing Tiferet - the Jewish version of zen
by Susan Cetlin
Creating different Jewish pathways for Tiferet תפארת - the Jewish mystical concept of beauty, balance, integration and compassion - has been the focus of my job as the volunteer coordinator of Temple Israel of Sharon's new center for Jewish wellness and healing. Our vision for the Tiferet Center is to become a Boston hub for Jewish wellness and healing classes, experiences and resources.
Many people have asked why there is the Hebrew letter "ו" (Vav) in the logo rather than a "ת" (Tav). The letter Vav which means "and" is associated with the sefirah of Tiferet. In mystical Judaism, Tiferet is the central sefirah on the Kabbalistic tree of life and serves as a connector to the other 9 sefirot. The ten sefirot represent qualities of the divine emanence of God in the world.
We hope to bring together people from different Jewish backgrounds who share a common interest in Jewish spirituality, health, wellness, and healing arts. We offer something for everyone: text based study, creative arts, meditation, experiential classes, movement, & prayer services. Our teachers and participants span the Jewish denominational spectrum which adds to the diversity, richness and depth.
As a very new endeavor, we are off to a good start. Last November, we held a kickoff "Taste" of Tiferet weekend featuring 20 mini-classes and events. Throughout the winter months, we have had a variety of workshops and programs to keep attendees busy and inspired. As a participant in (as well as coordinator of) all the Tiferet programs, I have had 6 months of amazing personal learning and discovery. All the teachers have been incredibly well prepared and impressive. The new and growing Tiferet community has helped me to get to know old friends in new ways and meet many new friends as well.
Searching for Tiferet in our Jewish tradition has been truly inspiring and has opened me up to new areas of pursuit. I have tried out memoir writing, different kinds of Jewish meditation, Hebrew calligraphy and creating beautiful patchwork kaleidoscope challah covers. I have delved into ancient Jewish texts relevant to contemporary mind/body approaches to mental health as well as ethical/moral decision making about our food choices. I engaged in wonderful spiritually moving conversations about the 23rd Psalm and shared powerful life stories with others during the memoir class. I received support and wisdom around taking care of my self while taking care of others and about my own age-ing to sage-ing time line. I was moved during a beautiful, musical prayer service dedicated to those in need of healing and solace. Along the way, I have acquired eye-opening respect for the relevance of Jewish texts and practices for our own health, wellness & healing. I am looking forward to the Spring offerings, as well as to planning with my steering committee, programs for next year. Many wonderful presenters, interested in the creative integration of Judaism with wellness and healing, have already approached us about wanting to teach. I am most grateful for the support of CJP's Innovation and Engagement Grant and Temple Israel of Sharon for providing a home for the Tiferet Center.
THIS SPRING, I invite you to join with me and others in the enjoyable search for Tiferet.
Our offerings will include:
A Jewish parenting series for new and expectant parents- led by Rabbi Starr and a childbirth educator Lois Freedman. Starts Sunday, 4/3 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Author and scholar, Jay Michaelson will lead a text study and meditation on the mystical quality of Tiferet and how it relates to our personal health, wellness and self development Sunday, 4/3/11 11:00-2:30 pm
Rabbi Yitzi Weiner will discuss Jewish texts related to facing challenges with serenity Sunday, 4/10/11 8:00 - 9:15 pm
How to bring light, renewal and inspiration into our relationships Sunday, 5/15/11 8:00-9:15 pm
And more to come...
Foodie and Scholar Jeff Spitzer will discuss how to develop Jewish food practices that unite and not divide communities.
Susie Rosenwasser will offer her unique Chesed Healing Circle, Debbe Stringham - Qi Gong with a Jewish Twist, Marjie Bernard - Aleph Tree Yoga and Rabbi Meir Sendor - Kabbalistic Meditation. Finally, there will be a spirituality of nature offering for gardening enthusiasts.
To learn more, read from the presenters about their classes:
Jay Michaelson: What is Tiferet? Kabbalah and the Spirituality of Integration, April 3.
Rabbi Yitzi Weiner: How to Eliminate Negative Feelings From Your Self or Others
Lois Freedman: Beginnings: Becoming Jewish Parents & Circles of Support, Parenting Series
Nina Schneider: Memoir Writing Series
Laura Rosenspan: Judaic Arts Classes
Marjie Bernard: Presenter of Aleph Tree Yoga
Deciding on which class? Check out these reviews from other participants.
Susan Cetlin, PhD is a psychologist and volunteer coordinator of Temple Israel's Tiferet Center. She lives in Sharon with her husband and two children. She is excited about the opportunity to help create a community resource which blends her interest in Jewish spirituality and learning with approaches for enhancing wellness, health and healing for individuals across the lifespan.