Jewish Women's Spirituality
The Institute for Jewish Women’s Spirituality presents "Explorations with Rabbi Rayzel Raphael."
These offerings are designed to expose the novice and the sage to a wide variety of Jewish women's resources, both internal and external. We will examine ancient rabbinic texts as well as contemporary Jewish feminist voices. From our own healing through ritual, text study, creative writing, as well as the "texts of our lives"; we will then add our voices to the ever-evolving Jewish people. See a video of scenes from one of our retreats:
Suffering from burn out, too much parenting, or life crisis? Have fun and take a walk on the wild side. Laugh at the moon while looking at the legacy handed down to us.
Due to the nature of the material these courses are for women only.
The Divine Feminine:
Honoring the Wisdom of the Divine Feminine
In this time of paradigm shifting, women have special role as healers. Our world is calling for a modern-day Priestess to re-emerge as archetype. Jewish women have their own mission, drawing down the light of the new moon, listening deeply to our Biblical ancestors and transforming our fragmented history to empowerment. This course is designed to expose the novice and the sage to a wide variety of Jewish women's resources - both inner and external - to catalyze personal transformation.
Shechinah, is "She-who-dwells within", the presence of God that is manifest on earth. When the Israelites built the Mishkan/Tabernacle, God promises to dwell there. The Kabbalists of the Middle ages developed Her character as a passive presence. Now, modern feminists have claimed her as a symbol of the Divine feminine power. In this session we will learn of her attributes - royalty, the bride, the community, and the lover.
Asherah was one of the ancient Israelite Goddesses mentioned in the Bible. She is consort to YHVH and her groves were sacred sites. She was despised by the prophet Elijah and her history wiped out. Yet remnants of her story remain. in this session we will explore our relationship to Asherah, trees, and the cosmicTree of Life.
Intro to Kabbalah
The Kabbalah is the system of esoteric Jewish knowledge developed in the Middle Ages. Come for an introduction that will cover the basics of the Tree of Life and learn about manifesting Shechinah/Malchut in the world. Keep up with Madonna!
Feminine God Language
In the last two decades God has been transformed. The King of the universe has been exploring his feminine side. Come and greet the bride, the Queen and meet the writings of Jewish feminists who have transformed tradition.
CELEBRATING AND COMMEMORATING:
Most of our Biblical matriarchs were infertile and their journey to motherhood is a template for our people. As well, the domain of childbirth and fertility blessings has been the domain of Jewish women for centuries. In our contemporary age of singlehood and lives that are not dedicated solely to raising children, we will examine our tradition as well as our own stories to see where we are in harmony and conflict with our heritage. As springtime readies to bursts, we will examine texts and new rituals that address these issues.
This work shop will explore the observance of Rosh Hodesh (new moon) from Biblical times to today. We will survey the Jewish traditional body of practices surrounding the appearance for the new moon as well as examining the contemporary practice of Rosh Hodesh gatherings as they relate to the hunger for ritual and lunar consciousness in our lives.
This session will take a look at samples of Jewish women’s rituals from Biblical time to present. The presentation is done with music invocation, time for sharing and is itself an experiential experience of ritual of empowerment.
Miriam's Well Healing
A Text Study and Survey of Musical Adaptations of Ayl Na R'fa Na La - Moses' Prayer for Miriam. Moses' prayer for Myriam is the shortest prayer in the Torah, yet one of the most potent. This study & song session will examine the text of Numbers 12:13. This session will end in a Healing service.
There are three mitzvot assigned to women. Hadlakat nerot - candle lighting is one of them. Candles are symbols of the soul and Gods radiance. In this session we will explore the special relationship women have had with the candle tradition and we will try our own hand at making candles for special occasions.
The well of healing is one of the three mitzvot (deeds) ascribed to women. Mikveh has been transvalued by contemporary thinkers to include life cycle rituals, and personal transformation. We will plan our own ritual of healing based on the tradition of Miriam's well, the water that followed the Israelites in the desert.
Jewish Women and Prayer
This workshop will survey the classic examples of the prayer/praying models we have of Jewish women from Biblical time through today. We will take an in-depth look at T’khines, a genre of Medieval prayers. In addition we will take time for our own spiritual compositions.
At the end of Genesis, Jacob bestows the blessing of breasts and womb. In this age of the rise of breast and ovarian cancer, we will look at Biblical and rabbinic texts to see what Judaism says about the female anatomy and we will focus on the blessings. In this session, we will use our imagination and " a breast plate" - just like the High Priests in the Temple!
Jewish Women’s Music
In the past fifteen years there has been an explosion of new creative Jewish music composed by women. In this session we will learn about the concept of Kol Isha - the voice of a woman and its sexual enticement of men. We will survey the latest female composers for liturgy, chants, and song. Expand your musical tastes, and be prepared to sing!
Midrash is the ancient art of Torah interpretation. In this session we will explore some traditional midrashim as well as contemporary feminist versions. We will also try our hand at writing our own stories into the text.
Poetry: The Language of the Soul
The past 20 years have seen an explosion of Jewish women's poetry. We will survey some of the most compelling contemporary writings as well as try our own hand at developing our soul language.
Jewish Women and Divination
In times long ago, Jewish women would use their psychic powers to attempt to see the future. Using the process of lecanomancy,oil on water, and other divinatory methods, a person's "mazal" (luck) could be read. Learn about these women, their methods and try a hand at prediction.
Women and Prophecy
This workshop will examine the Biblical stories of the female prophetesses. We will look briefly at the function of the classical prophets, while noting the differences for women. In addition we will explore the role premonition plays in our lives.
Jewish Women's Magic
Judaism has a vast and rich esoteric tradition, some of which has been lost to modernity. We will explore several of the traditional Jewish magical practices including a look at amulet making, angelology, and child birthing rituals. We will give particular attention to the role of women as they handed down their lore through the generations.
Aromatherapy in Jewish Tradition
The High Priests of the Temple had special formulas for incense. Queen Esther was bathed in scented oils and the sephirot of the Kabbalist tree of Life correspond to different scents. Explore Jewish tradition with your sense of smell. We will experiment with aromatherapy oils and learn some of their properties.
Jewish Women and Death
Jewish women have their own rituals associated with dying and death. Learn the story of the Witch of Endor and her ability to reach souls from beyond. We will discuss reincarnation, after life and more!
Lilith: The Original Wild Woman
This session will take a look at the Lilith myth, Adam's first wife in Eden. We will explore her story, and find our own untamed independence and passion.
The Journey to Personal Liberation
In advance of Passover we will look at the stories of the women of the Exodus as they relate archetypically to our own journey to freedom. We will survey feminist haggadot and begin to compile our own resources for our seders. We will spend some time writing new versions of the haggadah. This session will be supplemented with trip to pottery studio to paint our own Miriam's cups.
This session will bring alive the stories of women of the Bible. We will learn, through song - all original composition - the tales of Miriam the prophetess, the Matriarchs, Deborah, as well as other obscure and unnamed women. Be prepared to sing along.
Biblical Women - Our Spirit Guides
The Biblical women each have sacred teachings to pass on to us - their daughters. In this workshop, we will examine selected stories to uncover themes applicable to our spiritual existence. Using song, text, story we will apply the wisdom of their lives to our contemporary experience. This course will be both intellectually challenging, experiential, and artistic. Rabbinic commentary and contemporary feminist interpretations will be referenced. Using movement, ritual, journaling and other creative writing, as well as the “texts of our lives”; we will explore our personal relationships to the Biblical stories. This course can be taught in sections or as a week long adventure.
Jewish Women Embodied
Jewish Women struggle to integrate our ethnic culture of food with American values of narrowly defined beauty. This session will take a look at Jewish images of our Biblical ancestors, and our own perceptions of self in relation to our divine image.
For more information, email me at
or call 215-237-2955