One of my poems in a salon theatre series in California
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Against spiritual bypass: statement concerning Marc Gafni

When I was admitted as a rabbinic student at ALEPH, the very first thing that happened was a phone call from ALEPH's head of hashpa'ah / spiritual direction. She interviewed me in order to discern who might be a good spiritual director for me. Every ALEPH student is required to be in spiritual direction during the years we're in the program, and we're strongly encouraged to remain in spiritual direction afterwards, too. (ALEPH also ordains spiritual directors; I hold a second ordination as a mashpi'ah.) 

As far as I know, ours is the only seminary which requires students to be in spiritual direction, to be actively engaged in the work of discernment and teshuvah, throughout our training. One of the reasons why we do this is that we stand firmly against spiritual bypass -- the misuse of spiritual practice or spiritual language to avoid facing painful realities. Reb Zalman z"l used to speak strongly against what he called "whipped cream on garbage:" putting a pretty face on something which is rotten underneath. 

All of this has been on my mind lately given the resurgence of Marc Gafni. ALEPH has released an official Statement of the Jewish Renewal Movement Concerning Marc Gafni. Here's how it begins:

The latest attempted re-emergence of Marc Gafni as self-described spiritual leader galvanizes all who care about genuine spirituality to stand up for high ethical standards, protect the health and safety of students and congregants, and confirm the accuracy of the public record.

Marc Gafni is not a rabbi or spiritual leader recognized by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal...

The whole thing is here: Statement of the Jewish Renewal Movement Concerning Marc Gafni -- please read and share widely.