Why not spend a weekend with Rabbi Michael Lerner (editor of Tikkun) and Cat Zavis (executive director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives) June 12-14 (with a very small group of people). Cat Zavis and Rabbi Lerner have just gotten married and will be celebrating their honeymoon at Esalen, in part by leading a workshop on The Jewish Path to Liberation and TransformationNOT JUST FOR JEWS.

We wish it could be for free, or at least that the money comes to Tikkun, but no such luck. Still, since it is at one of the most beautiful places in the world, Big Sur, Ca. (which is where the Esalen Institute has its campus) it’s worth the trip (even from abroad or from the East Coast) and the cost. The hot springs there provide lots of opportunity for real relaxation, and Rabbi Lerner and Cat Zavis rarely get this much time to hang out with people in a really leisurely, joyous, and magnificent setting (except if they live in Berkeley and come to Rabbi Lerner’s Beyt Tikkun Torah studies and courses on Re-introduction to Judaism –details at www.beyttikkun.org). Moreover, the food at Esalen is to live-for, truly delicious.

The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA

Source: Flickr / Doug Ellis

You probably have friends who’d love to be at Esalen and we can promise them a weekend that is both spiritually rich, intellectually engaging, and politically aware to the realities of the complicated world of 2015 (everything from why fundamentalists have appeal and how to counter that to how to save the earth from environmental disaster). So even if you can’t come yourself, please post this info on your webpage and Facebook and Twitter, etc etc. etc.

So here below is the way that Esalen describes the weekend:

The Jewish Path to Liberation and Transformation June 12-14, 2015

You don’t have to be Jewish to experience what is liberating and hope-generating in the Jewish faith. During this weekend workshop, designed for Jews and non-Jews alike, participants can experience the unique blend of the prophetic tradition with the Jewish mystical tradition, as Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis lead the group through traditional Sabbath (Shabbat) prayers with innovative meditations, guided visualizations, dancing, singing, and into a state of radical amazement at the world around us. Plus finding the spiritual dimension in the Torah, and seeing why liberation theology begins there (though if you are a liberation theology person from another tradition, this will also be a rich weekend for you–and inspiring too to those who don’t believe in God–as Rabbi Lerner often says to atheists: “The God you don’t believe in is most likely the one I don’t believe in either–but there are other ways to think about the spiritual reality of the universe.”

Through his 1994 book, Jewish Renewal, Lerner contributed to developing a new spiritual aliveness in the various denominations in Judaism, and spoke to tens of thousands of young people who had been alienated by what Lerner described as the spiritual deadness that they often encountered in the synagogues and institutions of Jewish life. Lerner presented a new view of Judaism, in which love, caring, and generosity become the central tenets.

Lerner and Zavis currently are building two projects: An interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives; and a love-based “Transformative and Emancipatory Judaism” that is at once based in Kabbalistic and Prophetic Judaism, and also a challenge to those who use Judaism either to justify Israeli denial of Palestinian rights or as a path to power over others. Lerner was a protoge’ of his teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel at the Jewish Theological Seminary. So though he may be known to some because of his leadership as a spiritual progressive with innovative ideas on how to deal with the environmental crisis and the struggle for social justice, he is also an innovative religious thinker whose ideas are as exciting to Christian, Muslim and Buddhist spiritual seekers as they are to spiritually oriented Jews. Come join a joyful community of seekers and celebrate this loving, inclusive, and mystical tradition.

Among those who praised Lerner’s book Jewish Renewal were M.Scott Peck, Ram Dass, and Susannah Heschel. Harvey Cox, professor of divinity at Harvard University, said “As a Christian theologian, I rejoice in this vibrant and intelligent new voice of prophetic Judaism. Lerner’s book will take its place ;in the great tradition of the works of Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel.” And Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. magazine, said: “For secular Jews wary of new religious orthodoxy, for feminists struggling against patriarch, for Jewish intellectuals and theologians supicious of the merley trendy, for spiritually homeless Jews who have been attracted to other religious traditions, this book will provide a rich and profound encounter with the deepest concerns of the mind and soul.” All these levels of Lerner’s thinking will be manifesting this weekend at Esalen, a treat not only for Jews but for many non-Jews as well.

Recommended reading: Michael Lerner’s book Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation ( hardback publisher: Putnam, 1994, paperback Harper Collins 1995–you may be able to get it from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or from your local library) and also Lerner’s Embracing Israel/Palestine (published by North Atlantic Books, 2012, order from www.tikkun.org/eip); plus Cynthia Moe-Lobeda’s book Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (published by Fortress Press, 2013).

To Make a Reservation

You can register for this weekend workshopJune 12-14, and/or book a massage, by making an online reservation ( www.esalen.org) or you may register by phone, fax, or mail. But move quickly–though Rabbi Lerner and Cat Zavis’ workshop is very very small, Esalen tells us that the other workshops have filled up so there may be no rooms available very soon. Act now if you want to spend this weekend at Esalen!


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