A lifetime of paying attention – this is truly what I offer as a teacher and leader. Paying attention to the precious individual across from me, paying attention to all the layers of meaning in a sacred text, paying attention to the rise and fall of energy and emotion in a room. I pay attention as a spiritual practice, as a way to love, as the best way to keep learning and growing.
I deeply desire to inhabit all levels of experience, the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical, all of which lead to the spiritual, or one might say, the sublime experience of being in the world as fully as one is able. In this way I taste infinity, and I am filled and overflowing. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed.
I learned all this the hard way – is there another way? – and I am grateful to have learned and grown from my struggles rather than having been crushed or stunted by them. I carry this wisdom from the school of hard knocks with me, and I am a better and more compassionate person for having made it thus far.
I have practiced with great intensity in several fields: dance and movement, music and song, counseling and therapy, and over the past 30 years especially, Torah and prayer. For the past 30 years Judaism has been my primary path, my sacred vocabulary, my vehicle toward wisdom and transcendence. Not Judaism as a closed or exclusive system, but Judaism as it is meant to be, an opening to greater aliveness. As a rabbi, my goal is always to assist my community to become more alive, and I take incredible pleasure in guiding others along this path.
I discovered long ago that I have been given a gift: When I lead, I am often able to create an atmosphere of profound safety, or as I have come to call it, a holy space. Within this holy space participants often discover unexpected openings in their lives, often feel emotionally healed, and sometimes even feel transformed in wonderful ways. I cherish this gift and have worked to refine it – I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being the midwife for the birth of new possibilities for another person.
So in a very real way, I am a rabbi who is a modern shaman. I teach Torah as a visionary document in order to bring us to greater awareness and understanding. I lead prayer as a means to lift us high out of our mundane perspective, and touch a higher realm. I celebrate holidays and holy moments so that we might drink together from the Source of Life, and come to live in the awareness of the great and intimate Mystery that sustains us always.
I also am a rabbi who wants to connect Jews and all others who feel drawn to the life-giving wisdom of Jewish teachings and tradition. Because of its great antiquity, Judaism is astonishingly rich but also often opaque. It tends to speak in ancient metaphors and outdated cosmology. One needs a teacher in order to unpack Judaism’s riches. I have been blessed with marvelous teachers, colleagues and students, and I have become especially adept at translating ancient teachings into contemporary metaphors and language. The effort to understand an ancient source, which can be thrilling, but also daunting and intimidating, is always handsomely repaid.
I hope you enjoy exploring this website, and I hope you will feel inspired to contact me, to come to one of my classes, performances, and workshops, and perhaps to invite me to lead in your community.
Rabbi Jonathan Kligler