Program Guide 5774/2013
Romemu (roh·meh·moo) seeks to integrate body, mind, and soul in Jewish practice. Unabashedly eclectic, we engage in body practices like yoga, infuse traditional liturgy with the energy of ecstatic chant, and ground our practice with meditation and contemplation. This is a Judaism that will ignite your Spirit.
A Brief History of Romemu Rabbi David’s path began with an orthodox upbringing, steeped in love of Torah and all things Hasidic and mystical. He spent many years learning Eastern religions, immersing in the works of Ken Wilber and Carl Jung, and engaging deeply in body practices. Rabbi Ingber was moved to re-engage with Jewish life when he found his teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of “Jewish Renewal.” After two years as Rabbi-in-residence at the Elat Chayim Spiritual Retreat Center, Rabbi David began Romemu with a monthly service on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in March of 2006. He invited others who were looking for an accessible place to join him in the practice of a compassionate, Jewish life. After two years of part-time services, in 2008 the Romemu community came together and became a full-time congregation, led by Rabbi David, with an extraordinary group of congregants seeking a Judaism they had only imagined possible. That year, Romemu held its first High Holiday service with a borrowed Torah, a converted armoire as an ark and a rush of excitement. Since then we continue to build a community that embraces the Divine Image in each of us.
A message from Rabbi David Ingber Our tradition teaches that there are certain times of the year and certain places where we feel more alive, more vibrantly connected to meaning and purpose, more open-hearted and more spiritually connected. The High Holidays are an example, our Rabbis teach, of one such opening in time. With its melodies and prayers, themes of remembrance and forgiveness, the High Holidays help us do the profound work known as teshuvah, literally meaning ‘return’. Teshuvah is a profound remembering of our true self. This spiritual realignment is an annual opportunity to recover and rediscover what is most essential in our lives. As we turn once again to the delicate work of ‘heart-tending’ softening our hearts, feelings that often lie outside or beneath awareness gently begin to emerge. This exposing of the heart is ultimately what all of our spiritual work is about. In the end, Rachmanah Liba Ba’ay — the Merciful One desires the Heart. The great Rabbi Kook once remarked that this returning, this teshuvah, is the healthiest feeling a soul can experience. Allowing ourselves to return, to remember and to restore is a gift we give ourselves. Witnessing and honoring this process in others, is a gift we give to them. As is often the case, this process has more to do with subtraction than addition, doing less of more and more of less. Our hearts are right here, waiting for us to listen, waiting for us to finish making excuses or defending our position, waiting for us to finally say, “Here I am. Sorry I kept you waiting”. During the ‘Ten Days of Returning’ that begin on Rosh Hashanah, we are all invited to participate in the most important project —returning to who we are, returning to what we are, and returning (or perhaps arriving for the first ‘remembered’ time) to where we feel welcomed to do this important spiritual work. I pray that your experience at Romemu serves your deepest spiritual purpose while supporting your teshuvah, your return. I pray this will be a year of peace, full of radical transformative living and loving, for all of us and for the whole world. Shana Tova U’metukah, a sweet year for all. Rabbi David Ingber, Founder and Spiritual Director
Welcome to Romemu! This holiday season is an opportunity to take a pause and look back at our past year and look ahead to the new programs we are offering and the new staff we have hired for this coming year. Upon reflection, we have much to celebrate and with appreciation and anticipation, we are excited to continue this journey with you! This past year, we launched our Seekers program for children with a multifaceted and experiential new curriculum led by Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses. This is a program for the whole family. Seekers invites parents to join their children in a process of learning and growing, inspiring for all. Rabbi Dianne will spearhead the expansion of our Seekers program featuring music as a central part of Seekers Sunday. Our Young Tish program for 20s and 30s had an extraordinary year of new friendships, new experiences, new knowledge, and new community. Attracting over 100 young adults through discussion, prayer, and socializing, the Young Tish will continue to explore the idea of what it is to be a young Jew in NYC today. For our youngest congregants and families, we expanded our Sha’baby program on Friday nights and our Sha’boker Tov program on Saturday mornings, a musical and interactive approach to welcome and experience Shabbat. To help build Romemu’s initiative in Family Programming, we have hired a Programing Director, Marisa Elana James. Marisa will develop programs that will include family services for all ages. Transcendent music has become a centerpiece of our services. We will miss the soulful presence and leadership of Shir Yaakov as he moves upstate with his family. Shir Yaakov will continue to share his compositions with us and we are blessed he will remain as our Creative Director. After an extensive search, we are so excited to add two talented professionals to our prayer leadership at Romemu. Basya Schechter will join Romemu as Music Director and Jessica Kate Meyer will join us as our first Romemu Rabbinic Fellow and as co-Music Director. With R. David Ingber, Basya and Jessica will be leading prayer and services, teaching at our adult, family programs and services and be present at life cycle events. They will begin after the High Holy Days. We are launching new initiatives to meet the needs of our members. Romemu will offer its first Adult B’nai Mitzvah program, called Never Too Late: Bar/Bat Mitzvah for Grownups, (see page 12) which will include an exciting curriculum developed by Rabbi Dianne Cohler Esses, our Director for Lifelong Learning. 4
We will launch a Chesed (lovingkindness) Committee to support and love our members in need, whether by feeding a family with a new baby, visiting and supporting someone who is sick or organizing a shiva minyan. We are launching Live Streaming at these High Holy Day services. For members who live outside the NY metro area and for visitors who want to stay connected, this is an opportunity to extend the Romemu experience beyond our physical borders. The Social Justice Committee has coordinated activities intended to alleviate hunger in our local communities and beyond. Many aspects of the food system have been addressed, from climate change and fracking, to agribusiness and waste disposal, from direct service in local food pantries and feeding lines, to support for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Next year, we intend to expand and involve our Seekers and Young Tish in these endeavors. With so many new members at Romemu, we launched an innovative three-part New Member Orientation Program this year. We are overjoyed to welcome our newest members and help them feel at home and engaged at Romemu. We will continue this wonderful new tradition in the coming year. All of this growth requires changes in our infrastructure. We are excited to announce that we are moving Romemuâ€™s offices to a new space at 43 Central Park North (see page 22). This office will enable our staff to collaborate and allow our members to have meetings and classes. Our new Operations Director, David Ian Cavill, is spearheading the development of this space, and supporting the infrastructure necessary for our growing and evolving community. Ruben BenHarari, Administrator, continues to answer your calls and needs at the office. We are blessed to have a growing, diverse and dynamic community and are building an amazing team of professionals under the management of Ilene Sameth, our Executive Director. With the vision of our founder, Rabbi David Ingber, together, we are creating a strong foundation for the future as we continue to evolve. We invite your ideas, participation and support to help us make Romemu the sacred community and spiritual home we dream about. On behalf of our dedicated Board, Shanah Tovah, Happy New Year! We wish you and your loved ones a year of inspiration, uplift and joy! With much gratitude,
Caren Ellis Fried Board Chair of Romemu
0–5 YEAR OLDS
Erev Rosh Hashanah 5774 5:30pm 6:30pm 8:30pm
Doors Open Erev Rosh Hashana Services Singing & Storytelling... Community Dinner (pre-registration required)
Rosh Hashanah Day One 8:00am 9:30am 10:00am 11:00am 12:15pm 2:00pm 5:30pm
Yoga Rosh Hashanah Services Steph & Jess Musical Service Snacktime and Yoga Family Lunch & Learn... Share the Love Lunch (Private Residences) Tashlich with Rabbi Jill Hammer...
Rosh Hashanah Day Two 8:00am 9:30am 10:00am 11:00am 5:00pm 6:30pm
Yoga Rosh Hashanah Services Steph & Jess Musical Service Snacktime and Yoga Sha’Baby Kabbalat Shabbat
Kol Nidre / Erev Yom Kippur 5:00pm 6:00pm
Doors Open Kol Nidre
Singing & Storytelling...
Yom Kippur 9:30am 10:00am 11:00am 3:00pm 6:00pm 7:00pm Nightfall 6
Yom Kippur Services Jess & Co. Musical Service B.Y.O. Snacktime & Yoga Breakout Sessions (see pages 8-9) Mincha Singing & Storytelling... Neila Break-fast
6–9 YEAR OLDS
10–13 & HIGH SCHOOL
Wednesday, September 4 with Steve Wruble
Thursday, September 5 Rosh Hashana Yoga Rosh Hashana Musical Service Schmoozing & Discussion Groups with Dianne Cohler-Esses and Marisa James enter Riverside Park at 97th Street and meet waterside
Friday, September 6 Rosh Hashana Yoga Rosh Hashana Musical Service
Schmoozing & Discussion Groups
Friday, September 13 with Steve Wruble
Saturday, September 14 Yom Kippur Yoga Musical Yom Kippur
Schmoozing & Discussion Groups
with Steve Wruble
Yom Kippur Breakout Sessions Moving Through the Gates of Justice with Tracey Katof Leading up to Yom Tov, we have already been praying, considering, meditating and reflecting on our transgressions. Our bodies are the vessels holding our thoughts and goals for the New Year. Through a gentle guided movement meditation, we will embody our intentions for the new year. We use movement as a tool to further connect us to these intentions as we ask for forgiveness and delve deeper into our prayers. TRACEY KATOF is a choreographer, dancer, and pilates instructor in New York City. Her spirituality and art is inspired by the understanding that the global community relies on the correlation between self-care and an ongoing consideration of our relationship with the environment and all living creatures. Tracey believes that the appreciation of the physical body and it’s integration with mind, spirit, and nature is essential for Jewish life.
Totally Spiritual: Hasidic Stories and Discussion with Reb Yitzhak Buxbaum and You Let’s sit back and relax with Romemu friends and discuss deep Hasidic tales that relate to Yom Kippur. YITZHAK BUXBAUM is a maggid (Jewish inspirational teacher and storyteller) who has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Academy for Jewish Religion in NYC and LA, The 92nd St Y., The New School, Naropa University, the Lutheran seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and at synagogues around the U.S. He is the author of ten books including Jewish Tales of Holy Women, Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy. and Jewish Spiritual Practices, which Reb Zalman gave as a gift to the Dalai Lama; in honor of the latter book, Reb Yitzhak was asked to address an audience of rabbis at The New York Board of Rabbis on “The Quest for Spirituality.” Reb Yitzhak directs the Jewish Spirit Quest and Maggid Training programs. Ordained as a maggid by Reb Shlomo and Reb Zalman, he has so far ordained 38 men and women as maggidim. On Shabbat, Friday night, he can often be seen dancing ecstatically in the front row at Romemu. firstname.lastname@example.org www.jewishspirit.com
Between the Cherubs: Embodied Teshuva with Andrew Gaines and Shoshana Jedwab The High Priest was only permitted to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Inside lived the ark, solely adorned by two cherubs facing each other, with an empty space between them. Inspired by liturgical text and imagery, and informed by creative arts therapy practices, we will collectively invoke a playful safe space to embody the practices of the High Priest on this sacred day. Together we will cocreate a spiritual journey towards teshuvah, making conscious preparations for the concluding Neilah service, and encountering the gateway to mystery. ANDREW M. GAINES, LCAT, RDT-BCT is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist/Board-Certified Trainer, Bibliodramatist, and a PhD Candidate in Applied and Educational Theatre at NYU. A veteran performer of stage, television, and film, he also received the Smotrich Family Teaching Award from the Los Angeles Jewish Board of Education and a Spielberg Fellowship for the advancement Jewish education using drama/ theatre. Last year, Andrew directed our “Shushan Style” Purim shpiel, and co-facilitated “Enacting Forgiveness” with Shoshana Jedwab for Yom Kippur. SHOSHANA JEDWAB is a prize-winning Jewish day school educator and the Jewish Studies Coordinator at the A.J. Heschel Middle School in NYC. She is also a percussionist and performance artist who has trained in bibliodrama and psychodrama. Shoshana is a Storahtelling “Maven” who facilitates interactive public translations of the weekly Torah portion. She was the sole composer and musician for the theater production of A Song of Solomon, and is the sacred drummer and teacher for the Kohenet Institute, the Holy Drummers Institute, Kirtan Rabbi chant trainings and Nehirim spiritual retreats. Shoshana is a frequent musician at Romemu, and is currently recording her first solo CD of original sacred music.
Yom Kippur Yoga for the Jewish Spirit with Shelley Levine We will take this special time of Yom Kippur afternoon, when we are suspended between the material and the divine, for gentle yoga postures and guided pranayama (controlled breathing). Our breath can take us deeper into the experience as we prepare to enter into the awesome moments of Neilah. Please bring a yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothing. You can sit on a chair or the floor, whatever is comfortable for you. SHELLEY LEVINE is a graduate of the Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training and a 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training. She teaches regularly at the JCC and Romemu in New York City and the Jewish Meditation Center of Montclair, NJ. She has taught throughout the NY metropolitan area at a variety of synagogues, Jewish organizations and in Israel. She teaches therapeutic yoga at the VA Hospital in East Orange, NJ. Shelley has an MBA and a BSRN and worked in the health care field for many years. 9
Sukkot & Simchat Torah Sukkot Day 1 Thursday, September 19 8:30am 9:30am 10:00am
Yoga (Community Room) Meditation (Community Room) Services with Hallel (Sanctuary)
Sukkot Day 2 Friday, September 20 8:30am 9:30am 10:00am 6:30pm
Yoga (Community Room) Meditation (Community Room) Services with Hallel (Sanctuary) Kabbalat Shabbat
Shmini Atzeret Thursday, September 26 8:30am 9:30am 10:00am
Yoga (Community Room) Meditation (Community Room) Services with Hallel & Yizkor (Sanctuary)
Simchat Torah & Uni-verse Ritual Thursday, September 26 7:00pm 9:30pm
Services and Dancing with the Torah (Sanctuary) Uni-verse Ritual (see page 15)
Simchat Torah Friday, September 27 8:30am 9:30am 10:00am 6:30pm
Yoga (Community Room) Meditation (Community Room) Services with Hallel (Sanctuary) Kabbalat Shabbat
Drinking from the Well Lifelong Learning at Romemu 2013-2014, 5774 On the verse “They traveled three days in the wilderness and found no water” (Exodus 15:22) the Rabbis taught: “Water stands for Torah, as it is said, ‘O, all who are thirsty, come for water’ (Isaiah 55:1). –Babylonian Talmud, Bava Kama 82a
Lifelong Learning at Romemu supports our community in deepening and discovering our Jewish roots. This rich program of learning and study nourishes mind, body and spirit — bringing them into closer connection. We hope you make time to include one or more of these courses into your life in the coming year. All are welcome.
Never Too Late: Bar/Bat Mitzvah for Grown-ups 30 Mondays, 6:30-9:30pm with Romemu Clergy and Samuel Klein November 4th through June 23rd (specific dates can be found on our website) Typically becoming a bar/bat mitzvah is celebrated when a girl turns twelve or a boy turns thirteen. But committing to a Jewish life can be affirmed and celebrated at any point after that, often with the deepened understanding and appreciation that comes with time. Our first cohort of adults will enter an intensive two-year program of study and reflection culminating in special celebrations at Romemu in the spring of 2015. The program will include two courses each semester (on one night), special workshops before each holiday, spiritual checkins, writing one’s spiritual autobiography, reading guides, Romemu-based retreats and more. Jump in and join us — it’s never too late! NOTE: Prior knowledge of Jewish life or “In the Beginning” (see below). Please call Rabbi Dianne, email@example.com for more information and for a conversation before registration to determine which course to sign up for. For members only; $540.
Kabbalah Café Tuesdays, 7:00–8:30pm with Rabbi David Ingber October 1st through June 16th Join us as we explore the mysteries of the Kabbalah in an intimate setting. We focus on the wisdom of the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah) and its application to our daily lives. Sessions are topical, drawing from the tradition of Sefer Yetzirah, the Zohar, and Lurianic Kabbalah. ALL levels are welcome. Free for members; non-member suggested contribution $10.
For more information and to register, visit romemu.org 12
In the Beginning: An Introduction to Judaism Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30pm with Samuel Klein Starting date: October 2nd through June 18th Everyone is welcome at Romemu. But in order for each one of us to participate “with all one’s heart, all one’s soul and all one’s might” it helps to understand the ins and outs of Jewish life—such as why do Jews believe in one God, eat unleavened bread on Passover and sit in flimsy huts during Sukkot? So join us and get your feet wet! We invite you to a yearlong course of study that provides a map to Jewish life, practice, theology and wisdom. At the same time it will offer participants an opportunity for deep personal spiritual exploration and understanding — mapping one’s own psyche onto collective Jewish history and life. NOTE: This course is a required part of the conversion process at Romemu, and also a prerequisite for the Adult Bar/bat Mitzvah program (in the absence of prior Jewish knowledge). Members: $540; Non-Members: $600
Parsha Jam: Spread a Little Torah on your Week Wednesdays, 7:30–9:00pm with Rabbi David Ingber The Weekly Torah portion or Parsha, is an opportunity to ‘live with the times’, to align ourselves with the sacred wisdom that the Torah offers our lives. This year we will we devote ourselves to the teachings of the Rebbe (Master) from Ishbitz, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Lainer. The Ishbitzer Rebbe was known for his radical approach to Torah and to the human-Divine relationship. His doctrine of determinism and humanistic acosmism were deemed heretical and slightly dangerous by those who read his works. We will explore his teachings as found in his major work, Mei Ha’Shiloach as well as the writings of his children and students. This is a weekly class and is open for all. All texts will be translated and explained. Bring an open heart and an open mind. Members: $180; Non-Members: $360 13
Reading the Black Fire: A Mystical Approach to Learning Prayerbook Hebrew Thursdays, 6:00-7:15pm with Shir Yaakov Feit It’s never too late to learn to read Hebrew. We’ll approach the aleph bet — not with our minds alone — but with open hearts and engaged senses. Experience the body and soul of Hebrew letters and enter prayer ( )תפילהand the prayerbook ( )סידורanew. Soon you’ll be able to read and understand the Hebrew in this paragraph!
Davvenology: Siddur Skills, Prayer Sharing and Questions of Ultimate Concern Thursdays, 7:30-9:00pm with Shir Yaakov Feit Jewish tradition asks us to engage — more than any other practice — in the mysterious, challenging and bewildering depths of prayer. But what does it even mean to pray? What are we really saying? To whom are we praying... and why? With whom do I pray, and how? What does it all mean?!? Explore the texts, tropes and tangles of the prayerbook in a deeply engaged conversation with fellow travellers. This course includes lecture, chevruta (partnered text study), creative exercises, meditation, song and Surprise. Both Reading the Black Fire and Davvenology are offered back-to-back on Thursday evenings. One course: Members $360; Non-Members: $400 Both courses: Members $540; Non-Members: $600
Living Deeply with a Sacred Text First Sunday of every month, 6-8pm with Nili Weissman Living Deeply with a Sacred Text is an opportunity to make a year-long commitment to living deeply with a sacred line of text. When we stand in the circle and open the Torah Scroll from beginning to end on Simchas Torah, and hold the parchment in front of us, we have a tradition of pointing our finger to receive a line of text that is upon our heart. This is the moment of new relationship to a strange and awesome line of text, our new holy friend for the year. We will meet once a month to share our journey of this new relationship and learn together not only how to live with a text, but what the deep teachings are that we are learning from it by allowing it to come alive in our lives. The structure of the circle will be to treat our sacred text as we would a new ‘living’ relationship. Beginning October 6th, 2013. Free for members ($15 suggested donation); Non-members: $15 (One-time materials fee of $5 for everyone, payable upon arrival.)
Our “Uni-verse” Simchat Torah ritual
The Open Book Saturdays, 9-10am with Romemu’s clergy & guest teachers Prepare yourself for soulful prayer by dipping into sacred text study before services begin. Participants will study the parsha of the week, with commentary, poetry, hasidic wisdom and more. Prepare for a deeper, more resonant Torah service. Free.
For more information and to register, visit romemu.org 15
Come Learn Hebrew, Come Teach Hebrew October 25th-27th, Solomon Schecter, 805 Columbus Ave.@100th St. The entire Romemu community is invited to celebrate Hebrew! Begins on Shabbat at Romemu where Rabbi David will explore the mystical meanings of the Hebrew letters. Continues on Sunday with an all-day workshop for any community member who wants to discover or improve their Hebrew reading skills. This day-long Hebrew immersion, full of Hebrew games and songs, will be a great way for Seekers to boost their reading skills. To register for this event as a student, a teacher, or an organizer, visit www.romemu.org. Teachers for this extraordinary day will also be Romemu members.
Give Me Wonder with Shelly R. Fredman, Thursdays 7–8:30pm, starting this Spring Join us as we look into moments of radical amazement and spiritual awakening in the writings of Nachman, Heschel, Rumi, Rilke, Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver, and in the Torah. We will “write into text,” exploring the meeting places between sacred text and our lives.
A Stranger No More with Eleanor Harrison Bregman, dates to be determined In recognition of the diversity of the Romemu community and as part of Romemu’s continuing commitment to “widening the tent,” this year we will offer a series of events for interfaith families, couples, and for those who do not identify as Jewish. These sessions, primarily led by Rev. Eleanor Harrison Bregman, will be a non-judgmental space to explore and discuss the experiences, events, fears, frustrations, joys, and successes of interfaith family life and/or of being a “non-Jew” who is part of this Jewish community. Sessions will focus on the issues interfaith couples face; the complexity of parenting in an interfaith family; navigating the yearly cycle of holidays and life cycle events (births, bar and bat mitzvahs, marriage, death); and navigating Shabbat and other holiday services. In addition to the class sessions, Rev. Harrison Bregman will offer pastoral counseling for those individuals and couples who desire further and more individual attention as they wrestle with these issues. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions you may have and to hear what other topics you might want to explore this year. This program is underwritten by a generous grant from UJA-Federation of NY. 16
LIFELONG LEARNING FACULTY Rabbi David Ingber, Founder and Spiritual Director Rabbi David Ingber founded Romemu in 2006 as a Jewish place where anyone of any background or denomination could come and pray in an integrated way, exercising one’s body, mind and soul. David’s open-hearted and embodied approach to teaching has taken him from lecturing all along the East Coast, to communities in London, Jerusalem, Aspen, and Montreal. He has taught at such institutions as the Jewish Theological Seminary, Academy for Jewish Religion, CUNY, Pardes and The Skirball Center. He can be seen and heard on various television shows, often in multi-faith settings. His online sermons have been downloaded for tens of thousands of “listens.” He regularly appears on lists of the most influential Rabbis in America. David sits on the Synagogue 3000 Working Group of Sacred Emergent Communities. David studied Philosophy and Psychology at NYU, and has learned at a wide range of yeshivot in Jerusalem and New York, from the ultra-orthodox Yeshivat Chaim Berlin, through to modern orthodox institutions including Beit Midrash leTorah and Yeshivat Chovovei Torah. David received his smicha from Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 2004. He then served as the Rabbi in Residence at Elat Chayyim Retreat Center for two years. David’s approach to learning is informed by a similarly wide range of world-views. He is illuminated by Jewish mysticism and Chassidut, and fascinated by the intersection of these ideas with those of other Western and Eastern philosophies. Particular influences include Kabbalist Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, psychologist Carl Jung, integral philosopher Ken Wilber, Kabbalist & founder of Hassidut the Baal Shem Tov and the Ishbitzer Rebbe. David spent 10 years studying other sacred traditions in the healing arts including Yoga, Shiatsu, Pilates, Gyrotonics, Kung Fu, and Chen school Tai Chi. He is a certified Astrologer who weaves this ancient wisdom into his work.
Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, Director of Lifelong Learning Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses is the first woman from the Syrian Jewish community to be ordained. She grew up in a tightlyknit traditional community in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where women typically marry at the age of 18 or 19. Instead, at that age she left her community and went to study philosophy and religion at N.Y.U. She graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1995, where she was awarded several fellowships and a prize for academic excellence. Since that time she has been an educator and administrator for multiple pluralist institutions including CLAL, the Bronfman Youth Fellowship, The Curriculum Initiative and UJA Federation. In 2007 she was named one of the fifty top rabbis by the Washington Post online. (continued...) 17
Rabbi Dianne loves Jewish study and is committed to pluralist dialogue. She believes that encountering ancient sacred texts expands minds, opens hearts and deepens purpose. She loves Romemu and is passionate about developing lifelong learning in the community. She also teaches adult education at the Skirball Institute, the JCC and UJA and writes regularly on Jewish values and family life, Jewish ethnicity and Judaism and disabilities. Rabbi Dianne and her husband live on the upper west side of Manhattan and have three children.
Shir Yaakov Feit, Creative Director Shir Yaakov is a rabbi, singer, composer, designer, producer, teacher and Aba. Whether as Romemu’s Creative Director, lifecycle officiant, stage artist performing with The Epichorus or Darshan; in synagogues, yeshivas, and intentional communities around the world; and in Jewish, multi-faith, and non-affiliated spiritual contexts, Shir Yaakov weaves a tapestry of Kabbalistic wisdom, contemporary songwriting, and deep personal spirituality. He has recorded and released four albums of original music. As a spiritual leader, he facilitates ritual in a variety of contexts, from Chabad houses to multifaith, LGBTQ, & permaculture communities.
Jessica Kate Meyer, Rabbinic Fellow and co-Music Director Jessica Kate Meyer is a fifth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College and an interpreter of sacred music. She has performed as vocalist/storyteller/fiddler in a klezmer band with Hankus Netsky, developed inter-generational education programs and services for Temple Beth Zion (TBZ) in Brookline, and served as Jewish music specialist for Boston area synagogues. She recently returned to the United States from two years in Jerusalem, where she directed leadership programs for the non-profit organization Encounter, and studied and performed sacred Jewish music. After graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, Jessica pursued graduate theater training in London, and appeared in many film, theater, and television projects in Europe and the United States: most notably, in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.
Basya Schechter, Music Director Basya Schechter is most known for her group Pharaoh’s Daughter, a seven-piece neohasidic world music ensemble that travels effortlessly through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound. Basya was the recipient of numerous compositional and project grants from NY State Council of the Arts and the American Music Center. She is presently in ALEPH Cantorial School. 18
Marisa Elana James, Director of Programming After five years in Jerusalem, Marisa is delighted to join Kehillat Romemu. Marisa taught college English at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers, managed a bookstore, and worked as an insurance broker in New Jersey and New York before beginning her studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In Jerusalem, Marisa worked for Encounter Programs, taught Introduction to Judaism classes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and co-created the rabbinical student program for T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Marisa has also acted as cantor for communities in Israel and America, and assists her wife with translations from Hebrew and German to English. In addition to text and music of all kinds, Marisa loves ballroom dancing, karate, and learning new languages.
Samuel Klein Samuel Klein is currently pursuing a passion for learning as a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Prior to his move to New York, he served as secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Muslim-Jewish Relations at the British House of Lords and as executive director of the Coexistence Trust, a think-tank and NGO providing consultation and training in the areas of campus leadership, inter-communal dialogue and organizational change. A respected lecturer and writer on theology and the arts, Samuel is also a Five Rhythms dance practitioner with an interest in existential/gestalt psychotherapy and art of movement. A relation of Reb Shlomo Carlebach z’l, Samuel was the founder of the independent grassroots minyan Lev Simchah in the UK and past community director of the Saatchi Shul in London. Samuel holds MA degrees in Theology and Religious Studies (Cambridge University) History of Art (University College, London) and graduate certificates in Psychotherapy & Counseling Psychology (Regents College, London) and Conflict Resolution & Mediation (Birkbeck College, London).
Shelly Fredman Shelly R. Fredman teaches writing at Barnard College, in the Writer’s Beit Midrash at the Skirball Center in New York City, and at Romemu. She earned an MFA from Washington University. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Best Jewish Writing, The Huffington Post, First Harvest, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Forward, Tikkun, and a number of anthologies and literary magazines. A St. Louis native, she now resides in New York City. 19
Nili Weissman ‘Living Deeply’ describes the passion and lens Nili Weissman brings to every aspect of her life. Her love for the mystical, ecstatic experience was planted as a child and she soon came to love and honor the healing energies of HaShem in the natural world. With a degree in psychology from the University of Rochester, she was called back to the Great Mysteries to explore what it meant to ‘heal the heart.’ Being blessed to study with Shamans, Rabbis, Teachers and Healers in all walks of life, Nili’s passion was to connect with others in the holy space of the open heart and to share the vulnerable journey of healing the heart to become whole. She is a painter, a member of the Artists’ Beit Midrash at the Skirlball Center, a weaver who spins her own wool, a healing arts practitioner and for seveal years brought her love to the Burn Unit of a hospital. Her love of our holy texts that mirror the holiness in our lives, coupled with the skills of becoming practitioners of everyday mysticism, opening us to HaMakom HaLev, the HolyPlace of the Heart, are the teachings she brings to her year-long experiential journey of Living Deeply with a Sacred Text.
Eleanor Harrison Bregman Eleanor Harrison Bregman is an ordained minister serving as a Protestant chaplain at Jewish Home Lifecare, a nursing facility in New York City. She has led women’s retreats and multi-faith retreats in Georgia, North Carolina and New York as well as an on-going discussion series for Christian parents raising Jewish children. Since 1997 she has participated in a bi-weekly study group focusing on the Talmud and Torah. She has been published in the Journal of Reform Rabbis: “New York Chutzpah meets Southern Hospitality: Navigating Interfaith Marriage.”
Seekers: Hebrew School and Family Education
“The very world rests on the breath of children in the schoolhouse” –Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 119b In the last year, Seekers has doubled in size and become a thriving program. Seekers is a multifaceted family education program, including multiple doorways through which to enter into Jewish life and the Romemu community: Torah study, retreats outside of Manhattan, shabbat meals, field trips, art play, drama and music. Children study every week in small groups with a mentor in a family home. But the program is not just for children; it is specifically built for the whole family; part of our vision is to build a community within a community at Romemu. One of the highlights of the program is gathering as an entire group on Seeker Sundays for experiential learning: parents and children studying alongside one another. This season we will incorporate musical prayer as an integral part of Seeker Sundays under the leadership of our new music directors. Join Seekers and dive in to the Romemu family experience! For more information, visit romemu.org/seekers or contact email@example.com Start date: Sunday, September 15th Last Open House before the season begins: Thursday, September 9th at 7:00 P.M. Please contact Rabbi Dianne for the location.
Romemu has great family programming. Shabbat. Holidays. All. Year. Long. •
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Romemu kids and their parents are invited to join Romemu’s new Director of Programming Marisa James for a visit to the Lower East Side to buy the four species for Sukkot — Sunday, September 15, at 1:00pm Then at 4:00pm, our Seekers Program kicks off with with Sukkah Building and Pizza in the Hut 0-4-year-olds and their families are invited to Romemu’s Sha’Baby every Friday night throughout the year, welcoming Shabbat with music, dancing, laughter and prayer, Sha’Boker Tov resumes on Saturday mornings for 5-8-year-olds and their families starting October 5th, Starting in 5774, we’ll have monthly family Shabbat services on Friday evenings, and... Romemu’s first ever Hebrew Weekend from October 25-27 will include activities and learning for all ages!
Stay tuned for more to come! 21
Finally an office that will take your breath away (in a good way)
Sick and tired of climbing five stories to reach the Romemu office? In October, we will be moving to our new, ground-level offices at 43 Central Park North. This office will afford us space for our entire staff to meet and work together. It also has a large classroom where Romemu members will meet for classes, committee meetings and volunteering. Worried that our new office space wonâ€™t have a porch like our old one? We have that problem solved too â€” Central Park is our front yard! This will be a Romemu space you will come to love.
43 Central Park North (West 110th St.) Suite 1A New York, New York 10026-4366 212-580-4294 firstname.lastname@example.org facebook.com/romemu soundcloud.com/romemu twitter: @romemu 22
Thank you... TO OUR COMMITTEE CHAIRS Marla Alt and Susan Lander, Co-Chairs, High Holy Days Susan Lander, Judy Gray & Cathy Harding, Volunteer Committee Jamie Askin, Food Wendye Chaitin, Evey Adelson, Ariel Ingber, & Sharon Wallach, Family Programming Jonathan Bickoff, Sound Jonathan Baron & Cindy Pearlman, Decorations Laurie Wolko & Lynda Rodolitz, Share the Love Lunch Shelly Levine & Rhonda Rose, Yoga
TO OUR WORKSHOP LEADERS Andrew Gaines, Tracey Katof, Shelley Levine, Shoshana Jedwab, Yitzhak Buxbaum
TO OUR HOME HOSPITATLITY HOSTS Rebecca Sharzer, Felice Winograd & Alex Holt, Daniel Savin, Andrea Fooner, Michael & Debbie Rand, Kim Schneiderman, Allegra Kochman Laurie Wolko, Cindy Perlman,
TO OUR HIGH HOLIDAY VOLUNTEERS Abigail Klein, Alice Lewin, Alina Bloomgarden, Andrea Fooner, Arnold Mayer, Arthur Fried, Barbara Bizou, Bob Schloss, Caren Fried, Cathy Harding, Cindy Perlman, Dani Fleisman, Daniel Gildesgame, David Barrett, Devorah Stoll, Diana Viera, Eric Weston, Evelyn Goodman, Frances Zaruski, Howard Tear, Ilana Kresch, Jane Graver, Janet Danforth, Janet Thaler, Jayne Tear, Jonathan Barron, Joshua Goodman, Judith Atrubin, Judy Gray, Juliette Elkind Cruz, Kim Schneiderman, Kostia Rubchinksy, Lisa Rubchinsky, lisa schaffner, Lorna Weiner, Lydia Burdick, Lynda Rodolitz, Marcia Meislin, Marlene Brown, Marlene Steiner, Max Zimmerman, Melody Kiersz, Michelle Harvath, Mijanou Mosher, Nili Weissman, Oswaldo Cruz, Pat Hartley, Paulette Kranjak, Rande Brown, Rebecca Cruz, ReneĂŠ Gerson, Rita Kozak, Robin Staver, Sarah Stemp, Susan Lander, Susan Levine, Susanne Katchko, Tammy Anagnostis Klein, Tom Kranjak, Wendy Eden Harris, Yehuda Erlichman, Yehuda Hyman
BOARD OF DIRECTORS David Ingber* Caren Ellis Fried* Evey Adelsohn Mason* Peter Takiff* Hali Weiss* Marla Alt Jamie Askin Karen Beckman Jonathan Bickoff Jeff Cahn Eric Davis Arthur Fried Ariel Rosen Ingber Paul Mason Nigel Savage Elana Shneyer Jeff Wallace Ari Wallach Sharon Goldman Wallach *denotes officer
AT LARGE Wendye Chaitin Judith Hannan John Hannan Steve Kaplan Jorian Pollis Schutz Heidi Rieger Paula Yormak
STAFF Rabbi David Ingber Founder & Spiritual Director Ilene Sameth Executive Director Shir Yaakov Feit Creative Director Dianne Cohler-Esses Director of Lifelong Learning Marisa Elana James Director of Programming Basya Schecter Music Director Jessica Kate Meyer Rabbinic Intern and co-Music Director David Ian Cavill Director of Operations Ruben Ben-Harari Administration