The ALEPH Kallah is the Jewish Renewal biennial, a gathering which happens every two years. The Kallah moves around the country, so that each time it happens it's convenient to a different subsection of our community (two years ago it was in New Mexico; this year it's at Ohio Wesleyan University, from June 29-July 5) and it's an amazing opportunity to learn, pray, and spend quality time with many of the wonderful people who make up the transdenominational Jewish Renewal world.
At least, that's what everyone tells me. This year will be my first Kallah. I can't wait. I know what a treat it is to spend a week on retreat with part of this community, but the biggest Renewal gathering I've ever experienced was maybe 200 people. Kallah tends to garner a crowd of 700 or so. I love imagining the spirited prayer, the singing, the conversation, the learning, reflected and refracted through the prism of such a sizeable gathering of like-minded folks.
I'm also delighted to be able to say that I'll be teaching at the Kallah this year. The schedule features classes by several of my most beloved teachers: Reb Marcia Prager and Reb Shawn Zevit, Reb Arthur Waskow, Reb Elliot Ginsburg, Reb Burt Jacobson, and more. I am honored and humbled to be on the list as well. I'm teaching an afternoon class called Writing Your Heart's Prayer:
Do you yearn to give voice to the meditations of your heart? To connect with the timeless poetry of the daily liturgy, and to add your own timely voice to the conversation? This workshop is designed to bring you into dialogue with our many-voiced tradition of prayer. Rachel will create safe space, lead writing exercises designed to stimulate prayerful consciousness, and help you shape your words into a psalm or prayer of your own. Bring your favorite siddur. Expect to come away with new work, new techniques for generating work, and a renewed relationship with tradition and connection with God.
The intersection of poetry and prayer has long been a passion for me. I come to the rabbinate with a background in creative writing, and I'm deeply committed to helping everyone find their own unique "voice" in both literary and prayerful terms. I look forward to drawing on the years I've spent teaching creative writing, as well as on the learning I've done in my years with ALEPH, to put together a class which will hopefully be creative, meaningful, and powerful for everyone involved. (I will surely write more about this as July approaches; consider this post your very early heads-up.) And, of course, while I'm there I'll also plan to take a morning class -- it will be hard to choose between all of the amazing options on offer.
Anyway: if you've ever wanted to experience Jewish Renewal, if you're curious about who we are and what we do, consider coming to the Kallah! This year will be the 13th international ALEPH Kallah, the theme of which is Living in the Light of G-d: Making Every Day Holy.
It's one thing to read about Renewal, but one can only learn so much from books. The singing, the davenen, the community: these things have to be experienced, and this is a great chance to experience them. And regardless of whether or not my class floats your boat, let me know if you're going to be at Kallah; I'd love to meet more of y'all who read and comment here.
For a preview of the Kallah -- information about the gathering, the davenen, and the morning and afternoon classes on the schedule -- you can download the brochure in .pdf format:
Kallah Brochure 09 [pdf]
Hope to see you in Columbus!