The Morei Derekh Program
We are in the middle of a current cohort that started in May 2012 and will continue through November 2014. If you wish to put your name on a list of potential candidates for our next cohort, please contact Rabbi Ruth Sohn.
Change Lives as a Jewish Spiritual Director… Including Your Own
This is a Great Time to Become a Jewish Spiritual Director.Over the last ten years, Jewish spirituality has begun to move from the periphery of the Jewish community’s concern into the mainstream. This is reflected in a recently completed report, based on a national survey, by Professors Steven M. Cohen and Lawrence Hoffman, who write:
As ethnic ties among American Jews diminish — with more non-Jewish parents, spouses, children, friends and neighbors — American Judaism is becoming, in broad terms, less ethnic and more religiously and spiritually oriented. …Young Jews are more spiritually inclined on every available measure than their elders. The historic large gap in spiritual orientation between Jews and others is narrowing, especially among younger adults, those 35 and under.
Hoffman and Cohen urge rabbis, educators, seminaries, funders, policy makers and planners to respond to this shift, predicting that we “will find greater demand and greater receptivity to spiritual language and concerns in the years to come.”
Spiritual direction is a potent tool for helping people explore and deepen the spiritual dimension of their lives.
As a rabbi, cantor, educator, social worker, therapist, chaplain, Hillel or healing center staff, or simply as a friend or fellow congregant, you may already find yourself speaking with others and even counseling people about their spiritual lives. If so, it may be time to take the next step and invest in a training program that will equip you with the skills, knowledge, theory, theology and experience to be the most effective spiritual guide you can be. You may chose to offer spiritual direction in individual or group settings, or you may decide to use this training to enhance the work or teaching that you already do. If you want to participate in a community that will nurture your own spiritual development as well as help you become a guide for others, we would like to be your teachers and mentors.
The Morei Derekh Program
Many of our students consider their Morei Derekh training to be one of the most life-altering experiences they have ever had. You’ll work hard, but you’ll also be participating in a wonderful community that often leads to the cultivation of lifelong friendships and spiritual support. At the end of two years, you will be equipped to start offering one-on-one and group spiritual direction.
Here is what some of our students say about Morei Derekh:
Morei Derekh has brought me to a new place in my spiritual life; a quiet resting place in which I now can listen anew to the heart voices of my congregation and hear, with my inner ear, the spiritual voices of our tradition. I see Torah through a different lens; I feel my congregants joys, pains, achievements, and disappointments as soul journeys and feel personally and professionally humbled to companion them as we all grow towards God. – Howard S
Morei Derekh program has inspired me to continue to grow in learning, in teaching and in accompanying others on their spiritual life journeys; it has enhanced, enriched and deepened my faith in God and my life as a Jew. – Michelle
The Morei Derekh program was life-transforming for me; what I learned and continue to learn and live from the program informs my entire being. In my congregational and hospital work, I approach people from the perspective of spiritual direction – that we are holy beings, suffused with divine spirit, and privileged – if we are willing – to accompany each other on this journey consciously – Karen
Before starting the Program, I had difficulty integrating all of the disparate parts of my life–my Rabbinic studies, my prayer and spiritual life, my private life, my relationships with family and friends, and my desire to perform tikkun olam. What the Morei program has enabled me to do is to recognize that it is my relationship with God that is the connecting force, the kesher, that gives deeper meaning and value to each of these areas and to my life on a daily basis. The program has been able to accomplish this for me by combining ongoing text, prayer, and Mussar study, and weekly and monthly experiential opportunities, culminating, twice a year, in what have been, transforming four-day residencies. – Howard M
Morei Derekh was an opening to a deeper connection in my relationship with G-d. Spiritual Direction is now a very natural part of my daily life, and I have been told by other’s that they see me as “more spiritual” since I went through the Morei Derekh program. I am very grateful for the training and for the places that the training has led me. I definitely found my calling, and I made wonderful friends and some very deep and valuable relationships in the process. – Shayna
When you train with us in our 2.5-year training, you will…
- Attend four 5-day (Sun – Thu) residencies at beautiful retreat centers in California and Pennsylvania with like-minded, spiritually seeking Jews from all over North America.
- Study the theory of Jewish Spiritual Direction; learn and practice the art of “holy listening”.
- Cultivate an understanding of your own spiritual curriculum; learn to work with middot (traditional qualities of character and soul) in order to lessen the obstacles that obscure God-awareness and impede holy living.
- Explore and experience a variety of spiritual practices that deepen spiritual sensitivity and help us stay connected to God and the sacred.
- Pursue your unique path of Jewish learning, discovery, and practice so that your life is more intimately grounded in Jewish tradition and wisdom.
You will benefit from:
- Formal spiritual direction in your home community
- Weekly phone contact with a hevruta partner for study, spiritual companionship, and Mussar work (soul development)
- Monthly telephone classes on prayer (year one) and spiritual direction (year two)
- Monthly va’ad (small group study)
- Mentoring with staff
- Assigned reading and reflection papers
During Year Two, you will also:
- Offer spiritual guidance to a small number of directees
- Receive supervision
Perhaps most importantly, you will benefit from participation in an ongoing community dedicated to spiritual growth.
Our 4-strand curriculum provides what you need to deepen your spiritual life and practice and to begin offering spiritual direction…
- The theological underpinnings of Jewish Spiritual Direction – emphasis on images, beliefs, and experiences of God (including Kabbalistic and Hasidic theological assumptions) and on the Mussar tradition, a contemplative practice that focuses on soul work and ethical action.
- The evolving theory and practice of Jewish Spiritual Direction
- contemplative listening skills
- prayer and contemplation
- the role and dynamics of spiritual practice
- spiritual types and spiritual development
- the nexus between spirituality and psychology
- spirituality in everyday life, relationships, and social justice
- God in times of pain or suffering
- spirituality and addiction
- the spiritual direction relationship – transference, resistance, dual role conflicts.
- Contemplative practice – learn and explore a variety of contemplative practices. Students are expected to select and maintain disciplined practices in their own lives.
- Jewish learning and practice – study of classical Jewish texts and traditional practices.
Applicants must be able to attend all four training residencies and be receiving formal spiritual direction in their home communities for at least six months (or six sessions) prior to the first residency. They must have or be willing to develop a regular and committed Jewish spiritual practice.
Please contact us to get on the list for our next cohort.
Tuition and residency fees do not include the cost of books, travel to residencies, conference calls, spiritual direction or supervision.
Phone classes will be held monthly and conducted by conference call. Materials for preparation will be sent ahead of each class.
Weekly hevruta and monthly va’ad calls will be arranged by students to fit their schedules.
Students must have face-to-face spiritual direction in their home communities during the entire time of the training program. We can help you to locate a spiritual director but it is your responsibility to find and pay for monthly spiritual direction and, in your second year, monthly supervision. Supervision can be done over the phone.
Who Should Apply?
Individuals come to our program with widely varying backgrounds. Rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators come with a deep knowledge of Judaism. Therapists, chaplains, coaches, and those in the healing professions come with experience in being present with individuals. Some students come with a desire to serve and support the journeys of others, inspired by their own spiritual experiences, understandings and questions.
What we look for is different in each person but all should have:
- personal commitment to their own learning and growth,
- the maturity and self-directedness needed for a distance learning program,
- commitment to offering others guidance and illumination for their spiritual journeys,
- desire to share their own journey and the practice of spiritual direction with others.
Morei Derekh is a trans-denominational program. Our students and staff are affiliated with every Jewish denomination. The Morei Derekh training program is available to people with accessibility issues and is LGBT-friendly. Facility with Hebrew is not required but encouraged.
Since 2002, we have trained Jewish spiritual directors from all parts of North America (and beyond). Indeed, one student flew in from England every six months to participate in the program.
If you envision yourself helping other people deepen their spiritual connection, explore their experiences of God, find greater meaning in their lives, and celebrate their Jewish spiritual journeys, you’ve come to the right place. We look forward to hearing from you.