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Jewish Wisdom & Wellness Festival Integrates Ancient Learning with Modern Issues to Offer New Tools for Growth and Fulfillment

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thousands of Southern California participants expected at two week long series of workshops, lectures, performances, and film 

Jewish leaders and community members will explore the connections between Jewish wisdom and wellness during a citywide “Festival of Learning” devoted to a variety of notable subjects, including the wisdom of Jewish traditions on women’s health, end-of-life decisions, teen health, movement as a healing art and many more.

Jewish Wisdom & Wellness: A Festival of Learning (April 15-29) is co-hosted by Cedars-Sinai and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Kalsman Institute on Judaism & Health. Rabbis, physicians, scholars, musicians and community members will take part in more than 85 free lectures, classes, musical performances and workshops across a broad stream of Jewish thought and practice.

The Festival officially kicks off Sunday evening with “Hear Her, Heal Her: A Jewish Conversation About Women’s Health,” a panel discussion at Cedars-Sinai featuring three prominent Los Angeles rabbis; internationally known women’s cancer oncologist, Dr. Beth Y. Karlan; and moderated by Madeleine Brand of KCRW’s “Press Play.” This deep and timely discussion will address issues of women’s health and healing and how they affect all people.

“People often don’t realize that Jewish tradition has so much to offer on essential topics that affect us.  We don’t need to look East for wisdom.  Our own tradition can help us with stress and meditation, raising children as well as caring for our elders.” said Joel L. Kushner, PsyD, Director of HUC-JIR's Kalsman Institute of Judaism and Health. “In this third biennial festival, I am particularly excited about our offerings for parents and teens (straight and LGBTQ+) and for women from Orthodox to liberal traditions.”

Some festival offerings:

  • Death Over Dinner Jewish Ethical Wills Edition – IKAR
  • The Talk Project: Peer to Peer Conversations About Sexual Violence In Our Culture – NCJW
  • Women’s Mitzvot with Rabbanit Alissa, Rabba Ramie & Ms. Atara Segal – B’nai David-Judea Congregation
  • Working Through Fear and Anxiety Through Practicing Jewish Mindfulness – The Jewish Mindfulness Network
  • Leading to Forgone Conclusions: Mapping Our Dreams for Special Needs Adults – B’nai David-Judea Congregation
  • Collective Dreams: Storytelling, Community and Healing – Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center
  • Parenting an LGBTQ+ Teen in the Age of Social Media – JQ International
  • An Evening With The Accidental Talmudist – Temple Beth Am
  • Women For Women:  Breast Cancer Prevention and Support for Every Age - Sharsheret
  • T’Shuvah - A Jewish Response to the Opioid Epidemic – Beit T'Shuvah
  • Either Companionship or Death: Jewish Tools for Nurturing Friendship – ChaiVillage LA

The inaugural festival in 2013, featured a wildly successful memorial tribute to the late composer and musician Debbie Friedman. This year’s closing concert, “Shir Joy: A Taste of LA Jewish Music,” brings together some of the best musical talent from across Los Angeles Jewish communities along with featured performer and activist, Julie Silver.

“The idea that drives Jewish Wisdom & Wellness is that healing and spirituality are no longer confined to the periphery of Jewish life," said Jonathan Schreiber, Cedars-Sinai’s Director of Community Engagement. “In fact, these 85 events are proof that Judaism is a powerful resource that provides both hope and wellness to people in all stages of their lives.”

To hear about the Festival themes, click on the following videos: Women’s Health, The Talk Project, Gratitude, Learning From Pain.

Additional information is available at jewishwisdomandwellness.org. 

About the HUC-JIR Kalsman Institute on Judaism & Health: In the connections between Judaism and health, the HUC-JIR Kalsman Institute is a catalyst for interaction, learning and partnerships among spiritual leaders, healthcare providers, Jewish community professionals and members.  On the Jack H. Skirball HUC-JIR Los Angeles campus, Kalsman provides pastoral supervision, training and education to our future Jewish leaders.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu