Bekhol Levavkha: A Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

Bekhol Levavkha: A Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors

Main Content

The Kotzker Rebbe said: God is present where we let God in. Spiritual direction is a practice that helps open the gates. 

Do you want to deepen your capacity to accompany people on their spiritual journeys?  Do you yearn for a community of seekers who listen contemplatively to one another and witness encounters with the sacred dimension of life? 

What is Jewish Spiritual Direction?

In individual or group settings, Spiritual Directors accompany others as they reflect on their spiritual journeys, cultivate the inner life, and expand their awareness of the holy dimensions of living. The Director serves primarily as a contemplative listener, providing a safe, nonjudgmental relationship in which a directee can listen for how they are being invited into deeper connection with themselves, with others, and with God. Understanding that spiritual growth is a life-long process involving commitment, practice, and reflection, Spiritual Directors offer companionship and guidance to seekers through both joyous and challenging times of life. Some people in Spiritual Direction believe in God; others do not. An essential part of the relationship is helping directees discern and put into language the sacred dimension of their lives.

It is a gift and a privilege to accompany others on the spiritual path. Therefore, Spiritual Directors are individuals already dedicated to their own spiritual growth and contemplative reflection. Spiritual Directors themselves must be in Spiritual Direction with their own Spiritual Director. Often, Directors are renewed as much as the directees with whom they witness the unfolding of encounter with the divine.

What is Bekhol Levavkha?

"Bekhol Levavkha: A Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors" is a two-year program for Jewish leaders who feel called to tend to the unfolding life of spirit in themselves and others. Beginning in June 2017, you will meet at HUC-JIR/New York for one three-day, on-site retreat each year, and eight Mondays, 9 AM-5 PM, September-May in each of the two years. Work between monthly sessions of in-person study and practice will include reading, reflective writing, and phone meetings with faculty and other participants. 

Participants will learn and practice the art of contemplative listening among themselves in the first year and with clients in the second year. We will explore the practice of discernment and Jewish and other texts that illuminate that practice; a variety of theological expressions of spiritual experiences; common obstructions faced by contemporary Jews to awareness of the sacred dimension of life; the use of oneself as an instrument who discerns the holy in seekers’ narratives; and pastoral care that refrains from solving problems. Upon successful completion of the program, you will be able to serve as a Jewish Spiritual Director.



Rabbi David AdelsonDirector: Rabbi David Adelson, D.Min.

David Adelson serves as Dean of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is a Spiritual Director and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Interfaith Clinical Education for Pastoral Ministry at HUC-JIR. He is active in the Reform Movement’s social justice initiatives.


Dr. Barbara E. Breitman

Dr. Barbara E. Breitman

Barbara E. Breitman, D.Min., LCSW is a psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling and Director of Training for the Jewish Spiritual Direction Program at RRC. Breitman serves as a Spiritual Director at HUC-JIR/New York and co-founded Lev Shomea, the first training program in Jewish Spiritual Direction.


Rabbi Jonathan SlaterRabbi Jonathan Slater

Rabbi Jonathan P. Slater is Co-Director of Programs of The Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He is one of the founding teachers at Makom: Center for Mindfulness at the JCC in Manhattan, leading meditation and other programs there, and teaches Jewish mindfulness meditation in other venues. He was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary and has served congregations in New York and California. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Pacific School of Religion where he studied the nature of rabbinic authority among Conservative rabbis.


Rabbi Sheila WeinbergRabbi Sheila Weinberg

Sheila Weinberg serves as a Spiritual Director at HUC-JIR/New York. Weinberg is a developer and teacher of the Jewish Mindfulness Teachers’ Training through the Open Heart Project and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, where she is a senior teacher. Her first book, Surprisingly Happy: An Atypical Religious Memoir, was published in 2010. Her latest book, God Loves the Stranger: Stories, Poems, Inspiration, will be released in Spring 2017.

The first cohort of Bekhol Levavkha included guest faculty Anne Kline, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, and Rabbi Joshua Lesser.



Retreats at HUC-JIR/New York:
To be announced soon.

Monthly Mondays at HUC-JIR/New York:
To be announced soon.



  • $3,500 per year
  • Includes on-site intensive learning and interim distance learning materials and guidance.
  • Room and board not included. Participants need to commute and arrange their own housing.



Information for the new cohort will be available soon.



Please contact Rabbi David Adelson, D.Min., at


Spiritual Direction enables me to continually frame my relationship with God in ways I experience as vibrant, deep, and true. Through conversation with a trusted colleague, words of Torah, Jewish liturgy, and teaching take on a newfound power as I discover, rather than assume, their truth. Students in Spiritual Direction at HUC-JIR express a similar gratitude for the opportunity to engage in honest exploration of religious experience, and I have observed firsthand the extraordinary impact this work is having in our seminary. This training program offers a wonderful opportunity to broaden and deepen the impact in ways that will enrich our colleagues and the Jewish communities they serve.

- Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Former Dean, HUC-JIR/New York

I have been in spiritual direction for over a decade. Sitting with my director monthly helps ground everything in my life – work, family, the state of the world – in a broader context. I need that time, and that guidance, to reconnect with God’s presence. The faith that emerges helps me stay present in my struggles and feel gratitude for all the gifts in my life. I feel privileged to teach in Bekhol Levavkha and train participants in a Jewish frame for providing this support to others. Adding spiritual direction can make our Judaism richer and our lives more meaningful.

- Rabbi David Adelson, D.Min., Dean, HUC-JIR/New York