About the Program
Just as our ancestors harvested grain during Shavuot, we will come together to harvest and share grains of knowledge and connection with one another. From sunset on Sunday, May 16, through sunset on Monday, May 17, fifteen incredible leaders join us for Gathering Gleanings: Virtual Tikkun Leil Shavuot where they will be presenting hour-long sessions on a wide variety of topics; from traditional text study, to embodied Shavuot practice, to relationships with G-d.
This past year has been unlike any other. For this year's Tikkun Leil Shavuot, we have invited leaders from all walks of life, and we are especially highlighting new voices—several are students in the ALEPH Ordination Program, some are alumni or current members of our Kesher Fellowship, and others are leaders in a number of other Jewish organizations. Each one brings a unique perspective to this event, and you have the ability to learn and connect with each of them throughout this exceptional whirlwind day of programming.
Whether your interest is in one session, five sessions, or all fifteen sessions, your ticket grants you access to any and all one-hour long sessions from the comfort of your living room.
Registration is now open! Read below for the full schedule of all sessions.
Cost is $72 per person. This ticket price includes access to all fifteen sessions from the comfort of your living room. You are welcome to attend as many or as few sessions as you like—your ticket grants you access to all sessions of your choosing.
NOTE: You will select the sessions that you plan to attend AFTER you complete your registration. Check your registration confirmation email for the link to select your sessions when you're ready.
SUNDAY, MAY 16
Just One God: Idols, Idolatry and the Abuse of Power
Sunday, May 16 | 9 – 10 pm EDT (6 – 7 pm PDT)
Led by Rabbi Debra Smith
The Second Commandment instructs us to "not have any other Gods..." Through text study and guided questions we will discuss the implications of the Second Commandment on our lives today. We will explore what idolatry truly is, how it distorts our notions about power and how it can lead to power abuses. We will focus on: when honoring turns into idolizing; idolatrous leaders; money as an idol; power and responsibility and our relationships with power and authority figures.
Diving into White Fire: Discovering Hidden Stories at Sinai
Sunday, May 16 | 10 – 11 pm EDT (7 – 8 pm PDT)
Led by Mitch Chefitz
The narratives of Moses, Joshua, Torah and the Holy One were penned in letters of black fire. They float on a sea of white fire with myriad tales swirling below. We'll dive into that sea and bring to the surface as many tales as we can in the course of an hour.
Storytelling? Yes, but we'll also delve into the process of discovering stories worth telling so you might discover and tell stories of your own.
Coronation of Shekhinah: The Magic of Malchut
Sunday, May 16 | 11 pm – 12 am EDT (8 – 9 pm PDT)
Led by Kohenet Rachel Kann
Join Kohenet Rachel Kann for an enticing poetic journey through chant, embodiment, guided meditation and of course, a bissel Torah! Together, we will explore the Sephira of Shekhina, Malchut, and look at what this sacred feminine energy center has to reveal to us all during this unique time on the planet. Come for a fresh perspective on the indwelling sacred feminine as she moves through the earthly realms. We will be celebrating our final destination on the journey through the Omer: Malchut! Shavuot Sameach!
Praying with the Hands: Creating Jewish Bioregional Practices in Diaspora
Sunday, May 16 into Monday, May 17 | 12 – 1 am EDT (9 – 10 pm PDT)
Led by Isaak Gabriel Oliansky
There is a uniquely Jewish practice of tending the land- it's deducible from our holy books, stories, and some contemporary practices in Israel/Palestine. Together, these form a culture of Jewish earth care. However, these ancestral instructions have their best applications in the Mediterranean basin. What about those who wish to use Jewish cosmologies to integrate with the cycles of their homes in diaspora? Isaak will share some of the ways that he has connected to his life-long home in the mountainous west through Jewish practice and tradition. Through this sharing, Isaak aims to inspire others to connect Judaism to their home bioregions. Discussion will include edible and medicinal plants, sacred places, and Jewish land ethics. This conversation will emphasize the necessity of adapting to the land as good guests, and reversing the expropriation of Indigenous territories.
Please come to class with a spring-scented plant friend to ground this conversation in the land and not too much in our heads.
MONDAY, May 17
dwell: queerness, home, revelation, and ritual
Monday, May 17 | 9 – 10 am EDT (6 – 7 am PDT)
Led by Ari L. Monts
Inspired by our collective year at home and Ari's love of the domestic arts, this workshop/gathering will offer a deep dive into the holiness of our homes and what we can do to make our homes feel more connected to the Divine. We will spend our time together thinking about our tradition's historic ties to home-based rituals and how those ties make our homes ideal spaces for revelation. Looking at contemporary poets, Torah, classic rabbinic texts, queer newsletters, and classic homemaking texts for inspiration, our journey will lead us to uncover: How can our homes become sanctuaries? How can they make us more ready to encounter the Divine? How does washing the dishes awaken us to revelation?
Confronting Hard Truths
Monday, May 17 | 10 – 11 am EDT (7 – 8 am PDT)
Led by Joshua H. Blaine
There are times when revelations are brought upon us in profoundly uncomfortable ways. How can we resource ourselves and practice receiving these hard truths with grace, receptivity, and gentleness? Not all truth is easily integrated or received, especially if we carry one or more social identities of power (i.e. white, male bodied, wealthy, etc.) and are accustomed to comfort, control, and ease. In this guided, hands-on session, we’ll bring some warm attention and practice to moments when we’ve struggled to receive or fully integrate a difficult truth and find a little more capacity for opening to the day’s revelations.
Revealing Relevant Revelation
Monday, May 17 | 11 am – 12 pm EDT (8 – 9 am PDT)
Led by Paige Lincenberg
This session will reveal and explore a radical means of revelation within our tradition. Starting with a Talmudic text study of Honi the Circlemaker, we will wander through access points of personal revelation as well as revelation so profound that it evolves the entire species.
Through an Earth-Based lens, participants will together seek to integrate the ideologies of Shavuot into our greater pursuit of, in Reb Zalman's words, Gaian Consciousness.
Quilt Collective Prayer: G!d Is/Is Not
Monday, May 17 | 12 – 1 pm EDT (9 – 10 am PDT)
Led by Laura Lenes
G!d is at the center of Torah, and all our texts. Yet, how we each feel about, connect with, understand, and communicate with G!d is different for each one of us. Join us to pray, journey, explore, and discover what G!d Is &/or Is Not to and for each one of us through a "quilting" of music, poetry, art, and beyond.
Rewilding Judaism: Creating a More Wild and Embodied Jewish Practice and Community
Monday, May 17 | 1 – 2 pm EDT (10 – 11 am PDT)
Led by Dor Haberer
So many of us have felt a lack of connection to the Jewish structures that we grew up with. There were seeds of intact culture, community, and rich tradition, and yet the way it was practiced did not fully allow for all of ourselves to be included. Dor, along with his brother and community, has been exploring how to create a community that brings alive Jewish traditions while gleaning learnings from the wild and embodied practice to be able to form a more dynamic, real Jewish Practice. This is also informed by their childhood growing up on a kibbutz and growing up with Moroccan traditions and rituals. Come join Dor on the exploration of what Rewilding Judaism might look like.
Hebrew is Magic
Monday, May 17 | 2 – 3 pm EDT (11 am – 12 pm PDT)
Led by Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener
Hebrew letters are the molecules and atoms of Jewish metaphysics. Each letter is a picture, a sound, and a numeral. Each letter is created in the body in a distinct way. Each of these aspects gives meaning to the words in which the letters appear. The deeper meaning of the words can be probed if we read them as a sum of the meaning of the letters! In this short class, we'll reflect on a dozen or so Hebrew letters and words to draw meaning in this way.
Shmita: Your (r)evolution Starts Now
Monday, May 17 | 3 – 4 pm EDT (12 – 1 pm PDT)
Led by Sue Salinger
Do you want to...
- Deepen your connection to justice and Jewish values?
- Expand your tool kit for resilience while making meaningful social change?
- Explore the key Shmita themes including: economic justice and debt relief, food justice, immigrant rights, land rights, and food access?
In this brief time together, we will collectively sow and nurture seeds for meaningful change. Bring a journal, your open heart, and your desire to create the world you want to live in.
Bikkurim (First Fruit Offerings)
Monday, May 17 | 4 – 5 pm EDT (1 – 2 pm PDT)
Led by Emily Stern
Finally, it’s Shavuot and you look out over your fields. You are so pleased. Pomegranates, figs, grapes, dates, and olives are ripening. Your barley is harvested. And you can finally turn your wheat into bread. Yet, it is not time to eat. It is time to make a trip to the sacred temple to offer these fruits to The Holy One of Blessing. Shavuot, which the Torah calls the harvest festival, is the first time in the year we are able to make Bikkurim, the offering of the first fruits. Suppose instead of foods, these fruits were the blessings in your life. Using the structure of the bikkurim offering, join Emily on a guided journey from the fields of your life to the holy temple, giving thanks for the many blessings that have ripened in your life. Using the ancient incantations from this ritual, we will make our own bikkurim offering to The Holy One of Blessing.
Almond Milk and Date Honey: Queering Jewish Food
Monday, May 17 | 5 – 6 pm EDT (2 – 3 pm PDT)
Led by Sara Eifler
On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, a text with special significance to the queer community for its depiction of an intimate relationship between women. Yet this text also contains sexual objectification, uneven power dynamics, and a focus on male-identified bodies as a source of women’s salvation.
How does this relate to the practice of eating dairy on Shavuot, a holiday that celebrates the grain harvest? In our age of factory farming, what does it look like, and what does it mean to us, to “queer” Jewish food?
Devotion to Presence
Monday, May 17 | 6 – 7 pm EDT (3 – 4 pm PDT)
Led by Rami Avraham Efal
Shavuot celebrates revelation - a portal into the overflow and mystery of Reality. What if we meet it with devotion, Dvekut, to our non-dual presence, a practice that is fine-tuned and infused with love and surrender to radical awareness itself - to our mind, our body, each other and the Great Mystery? Plunge into an hour of prayer, facilitated sharings, and radical shared presence.
Singing to Open & Receive
Monday, May 17 | 7 – 8 pm EDT (4 – 5 pm PDT)
Led by Rena Branson
Sacred song and silence can guide us beyond mental chatter, returning us to ourselves and each other with softened hearts to welcome Torah. Come learn original melodies and Hasidic nigunim to prepare ourselves for revelation. All voices are welcome; quiet listening is welcome; dancing is welcome; shluffing (sleeping) is welcome--come breathe and be with us however is most comfortable for you! Wisdom is on her way to meet us where we are. If it helps you to get familiar with some of the songs we will sing in advance, you’re invited to visit soundcloud.com/renabranson.
Get to know our session leaders! They are listed in order of when their session takes place.
Rabbi Debra Smith (she/her) is the founder and spiritual leader of Or HaLev Jewish Renewal Community in New Jersey. She is also a Clinical Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist. She works extensively in the Multi-faith community and is a co-leader of the Morris County, NJ Chapter One of the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom. She also teaches Pastoral Counseling and Clergy Ethics in the ALEPH Ordination Program.
Mitch Chefitz (he/him) is the author of "The Seventh Telling: The Kabbalah of Moshe Katan" and three other novels, most recently "The Rx of Dr. Z". His story collection, "The Curse of Blessings", has been widely translated. He hopes to have a volume of 50 words of Torah during Covid-19 ready for publication by Shavuot.
Kohenet Rachel Kann (she/her) is a part of the new anthology XLA Poets from HINCHAS Press. She is a devotional poet and ceremonialist. She was the 2020 New England Jewish Poetry Festival’s Featured Poet and a 2020 Cosmic Sister “Women of The Psychedelic Renaissance” awardee for her poetry presentation at the 2020 Spirit Plant Medicine Conference. She is a WORD: Bruce Geller Memorial Prize recipient for her latest poetry collection, How to Bless the New Moon, from Ben Yehuda Press. She leads Realize Paradise Creativity Workshops, Shabbat Soul Journeys and New Moon Union Rosh Chodesh Circles. She was the 2017 Outstanding Instructor of the Year at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
Isaak Gabriel Oliansky (he/him) is currently the Executive Director of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank in Ashland, Oregon, having served in social services for half a decade. Between bouts of burnout, he has been a natural builder, permaculturist, amateur wild foodie, and is currently enrolled in ALEPH's Earth-Based Judaism program. He lives on Shasta land, in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon, where he can be found bush-whacking with his dog Mesa and his fiancé Julia.
Ari L. Monts (they/them) is an independent scholar, artist, and queer liturgist based in Austin, TX. Their work looks at the role of participatory performance rituals in the lives of queer women and non-binary people of color and includes research centered around performance and play in queer nightlife and various religious liturgies (and their intersections?). From 2015-2020 they were a staff writer for autostraddle.com where they wrote about religion, sex, and joy. They’re currently a fellow with the ALEPH Jewish Renewal Kesher program and do montessori and story-based work at an Episcopal church with children.
Joshua H. Blaine (he/him) is a songleader, facilitator, organizer, and resonant healing practitioner-in-training. Moved and informed by the #metoo moment and the legacies of radical feminist and Black movements for justice, his work is grounded in practices of nonviolence, Jewish ritual and mysticism, and the profoundly personal and ongoing processes of unlearning patterns of male domination and white supremacy in his own body. He weaves the wisdom and songs of his Jewish lineage (inspired by his grandmother’s unlikely survival of four Nazi concentration camps) with his experience as a psychiatric survivor and the deep lessons offered in relationship with his partner, a survivor (and scholar) of sexual violence and trauma. He currently lives on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on Narragansett land (also known as southern Rhode Island) with his partner and their mystical dog, Blue.
Paige Lincenberg (she/her) dwells on this earth as an ALEPH Rabbinical Student, receiving a specialized certificate in Earth-Based Judaism, as a certified yoga instructor, as the sole clergy of Temple B’nai Israel, and most importantly, as a human being, not a human doing. Paige helps lead Silent Jewish Meditation Retreats through both Or HaLev and Awakened Heart Project and serves as a mentor for Wilderness Torah’s outdoor youth program Bhootz. Paige offers spiritual support through the Fireside Project Psychedelic Support Line and other personalized rituals. Living in a Jewish intentional community in the middle of redwoods in Northern California, Paige deeply believes in the oneness of earth and all life. For further connection, please drop into www.paigelincenberg.com
Laura Lenes (she/her) leads services & creates programming in synagogues across South Florida, as both a Prayer Leader, Cantorial Soloist, Educator, curriculum developer, and Student Rabbi. She delights in connecting children through adults to Judaism, G-d, and each other through music, American Sign Language, drama, & movement! She additionally leads services and events in synagogues (across every movement/denomination) across the US & beyond, developed a Jewish Mommy & Me program (Sing Sign Simcha) used across Florida & NYC, is the Music Director in Hebrew Schools & Preschools, developed Prayer Room, works with PJ Library, has been an Artist-in-Residence across the country, has leadership roles at Jewish National conferences, and is currently working to record & publish a vast collection of songs/prayers, Jewish musical plays & curriculum(s). Laura is humbled, and honored, to be in ALEPH's Rabbinic School. You can learn more by following: https://www.facebook.com/laura.lenes.7
Dor Haberer (he/him) is a cultural weaver, Mxn's work faciltator, shiatsu therapist, and Earth Based Jewish Practitioner. Born in Jerusalem, with Moroccan, German, and Latvian Ancestry, Dor carries his traditions into all the work he does. With his brother, they have been running courses on Rewilding Judaism.
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener (she/her) is an author, translator, storyteller and teacher who was ordained with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2000. Andrea serves as the spiritual leader of Temple Israel in Greenfield MA, where she gardens and raises chickens and lives a simple life. Andrea is also a founding member and long-term rabbi/haver to the P'nai Or community of West Hartford, CT.
Sue Salinger (she/her) is committed to building community resilience and food equity by connecting people to each other and to the earth. She brings several decades of transformational project design and JOFEE experience to Ekar Farm, a 2 acre non-profit educational commons. Sue was Reb Zalman's TA for three years at Naropa, and developed his digital audio archive, now housed at CU Boulder. Sue is studying in ALEPH's EBJ program.
Emily Stern (she/her) is a Rabbinic Student with the ALEPH Ordination Program. When the Torah is revealed at Mount Sinai, it says “all the nations saw the voices.” Emily has spent years trying to express the depth and beauty of her synesthesiac Sinai Experience through art and music, the colors her soul knows as Divine. Emily strives to guide others to find their own creative, personal truth within Judaism. Emily runs the B'nei mitzvah program and family programming at Kol HaLev Synagogue in Baltimore, and holds a BFA in Drama from New York University's Tisch School. Visit her website www.emilystern.org for more information about her artistic offerings.
Sara Eifler (she/her) is the Program Director of Jewish Veg, a national nonprofit that inspires and assists Jews to adopt plant-based diets as an expression of Jewish values. She believes in a Jewish ethic of responsibility and care toward animals and the earth and is passionate about global food justice. She lives on Cape Cod with her partner Kendall.
Rami Avraham Efal (he/him) weaves consciousness, communication, creative arts, and cross-cultural peacemaking. He is the rabbinic fellow at Lab/Shul, a dharma holder and student of the late Zen teacher Bernie Glassman and a rabbinic & cantorial student at the ALEPH Ordination Program. More about Rami at www.ramiefal.com
Rena Branson (she/her) is a Jewish composer, ritual leader, and educator who uplifts personal and collective healing through song. She is the founder of A Queer Nigun Project (aqueernigunproject.org), which organizes community singing events for LGBTQIA+ folks and sends Jewish spiritual audio content to people who are incarcerated in NYC jails. She writes new liturgical tunes and is among few women who specialize in teaching and recording traditional Hasidic melodies. Rena currently serves as the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir in Philadelphia. You can learn more and hear her music at renabranson.com.