Institute for Jewish Spirituality

330 Seventh Avenue, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Telephone: (212) 774-3608

Description of Organization

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) was founded in 1999 in response to a challenge by then President of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Charles Halpern, to help Jews find greater access to the deep wisdom of the Jewish spiritual inheritance and to help them build lives of vital and engaged practice. Rabbi Rachel Cowan, then Jewish Life Program Officer at the Foundation, gathered a small group of colleagues who worked together to create an intensive, practice-based model of Jewish spiritual learning and exploration.  In January 2000, IJS launched its first programs: an eighteen-month, retreat-based learning and practice program for rabbis and a similar year-long program for lay leaders. IJS believed that professional and lay Jewish leadership needed to work together to create structures of learning and exploration for Jews seeking a serious, contemplative, practice-based Judaism grounded in mindfulness meditation for the sake of transforming the world.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2022, a donation in the amount of $2,500 was given to support the work of IJS in sharing and advancing  the practices of mindfulness and meditation in traditional Jewish studies and practices. 

In 2021, a COVID-19 Operational Grant of $5,000 was awarded to the Institute for Jewish Spirituality to support staff salaries while moving all programs online with the commitment to offer their programming either free of charge or at reduced rates.  Due to COVID-19, net revenue from IJS’s in-person retreat tuition was reduced.  Without that ability, IJS began providing daily Mindfulness Meditation sessions, led by a master teacher, weekly reflective Torah study, and a downloadable meditation starter kit. They also led weekly clergy convenings for those on the front lines to sit together in prayer, meditation, and the sharing of best practices. IJS hosted an online summer retreat and launched partnerships with major Jewish organizations with national reach and provide training in Jewish Mindfulness Meditation to teachers and school administrators.
In 2018, a grant was awarded in the amount of $10,000 to support two online offerings: a month-long Elul Intensive Program, an intensive meditation program during Elul with the goals of helping new and experienced meditators deepen their practice and prepare meaningfully for the coming holy days and the Weekly Meditation Series.
In 2017, a grant was awarded in the amount of $10,000 to continue their Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training course. The program consisted of three intensive retreats (18 days total over 15 months), as well as a curriculum of weekly study with a learning partner and monthly assignments and check-ins with a faculty mentor. Each month of the curriculum featured a theme for investigation through an integrated path of study and practice. This included readings from Jewish and Buddhist sources; practice instructions and guidance for integration of Jewish thought, language, and mindfulness; and pedagogic instruction and practice.
In 2010, a grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded to Institute for Jewish Spirituality to support the Jewish Mindfulness Teachers 16-month training program.