Shut up, sit down: Reflections on a Jewish meditation retreat in Israel

January 7, 2013

Brian Blum, Haaretz: A weekend of meditation based on Hasidic mindfulness practices that were almost wiped out in the Holocaust proved to be unexpectedly transformational.

My wife and I recently went on a silent Jewish meditation retreat. There wasn’t much to say. The end.

Just kidding. There is in fact very much to say about the retreat, which was organized by Or HaLev – the Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation, established by Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels at Kibbutz Hanaton in the northern Jezreel Valley.

As described in its mission statement, Or HaLev seeks to “teach concrete Jewish techniques for deepening our lives and to …

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Suffering as a call to attention

November 17, 2012
True Refuge, published Jan 2013. Available at and
“Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.” – Byron Katie

Can you imagine understanding, even loving, someone who belongs to a group of people responsible for killing your father, brother, or best friend? Can you imagine growing close to someone whose people have driven you from your home, humiliated your family, and turned you into a refugee in your own country?

Twenty-two teenage girls from Israel and Palestine were flown in to a camp in rural New Jersey, where they would live together in the face of these questions. As part of a program called Building Bridges for Peace, these … Read more »

Warning issued against new Buddhist center in Israel

January 13, 2011

The anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim has issued a warning against a new Buddhist center which is set to open in Israel’s Arava region.

According to the warning, an agreement was recently signed by the Central Arava Regional Council and a non-profit organization by the name ‘Wisdom and Intelligence’ which allocates hundreds of acres in the Arava for the establishment of a ‘spiritual university’ based on and operating in accordance with the international principles of Buddhism.

Yad L’Achim says it has been approached by concerned local residents who asked the organization to take action to prevent the center from opening. The organization subsequently looked into ‘Wisdom and Intelligence’ and found that its members are Buddhists.

According … Read more »