Ayeka, was conceived of and created by an old friend, Aryeh Ben-David, with whom I began my rabbinic studies over 35 years ago. Our paths from that year of studies took us in very different directions. My path brought me back to New York City to continue my studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from which I received my ordination in 1983. My classmate made aliyah and began a journey that took him on a different religious and spiritual Jewish journey. Ultimately it also led him to ordination though his took him down different avenues of the broad Jewish community, including years as an educator at a yeshivah in Jerusalem. Our path crossed once again this summer, and as they did I became aware of this wonderful educational venture that Aryeh started several years back. As I learned about Ayeka, I thought “this would be great for our community!” wherein we have many members who are asking thoughtful spiritual questions.
Aryeh describes Ayeka like this: Ayeka affirms that the goal of learning Jewish wisdom is not to solely to become a more knowledgeable or smarter person. The larger goal of learning Jewish wisdom is to affect and change us, to enable us to become better people, more living in the Image of God.To do this, we need opportunities to acquire Jewish knowledge so that in addition to our minds, it enters our hearts and everyday lives. We need to imbue a deep love of Judaism and an understanding of how the wisdom of Judaism can enrich everyday life and how it relates to and offers a deeper experience of our minutes, days, and years. . . .
There are 3 components to each Ayeka session:
- Learning Jewish wisdom sources: Ayeka has developed a well thought-out curriculum incorporating Jewish wisdom texts. The aim is not only intellectual engagement or mastery of these texts, but additionally to learn the sources in order to engender personal exploration and growth.
- Reflective and Experiential Exercises: Participants need time to process and personalize what they learn. Reflective and experiential exercises enable the participants to fully absorb and personalize the subjects studied. This is the opportunity for each participant to hear and express his or her own voice within a Jewish educational experience.
- Soulful Chevruta conversations: “Heart-to-Heart” conversations are essential for developing self-awareness and bringing the wisdom of the sources into our hearts and lives. Participants are given the time and space to talk and listen to each other in private, confidential, one-on-one settings.
For the past several weeks I, myself, have been on the Ayeka journey as each week I join a group of colleagues and other educators, with Aryeh Ben-David, as our teacher/guide. We are not only learning about the Ayeka program — we are participants in it.
On Thursday evening, October 18th I will begin leading a four-week sampler of Ayeka as part of our Adult Learning program. We will explore: the meaning of God’s question Ayeka — where are you? in our lives; Consciousness; Waking Up; and more.
The plan is for on-going offerings of Ayeka’s fuller learning/journey modules through this year and beyond.
Along the way, I will be joined by Josh Conescu who has been on our teaching faculty at various levels for many years, and who is also participating in the training with me and Aryeh.
To me Ayeka is about opening our minds, hearts and souls to the bigger questions of our lives./ Yes, along the way we will learn a few texts. But the more important text is our own hearts, souls and life experiences.
Won’t you join me? To learn more, or to register, follow this link: http://www.templeshalom.org/around_the_world_of_liturgical_music/