“I can honestly say that I have had very few visiting rabbis or teachers who were as well received as Rabbi Jill Hammer… Rabbi Hammer’s impact on our congregation could be felt in the weekly Torah discussions for months afterwards. Rabbi Hammer is a gifted and warm teacher; I would not hesitate to recommend her as a visiting scholar to any congregation.”
—Rabbi Neal Loevinger, Temple Beth Israel in Swampscott, MA
The Hebrew Priestess
Learn the history of biblical, Talmudic, and kabbalistic wise women, prophetesses, shrinekeepers, and witches and discover the ways that Jewish women’s spiritual leadership has influenced Jewish lore and history. Find out how Jewish women today are making this ancient legacy come alive. Learn practices, inspired by the Hebrew priestesses of old, for bringing the sacred into your own life.
“Dreams are one-sixtieth of prophecy.”
—Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 57b
Dreamwork is an ancient method for conversing with the Divine and transforming the soul. In this session, we’ll encounter the vast array of Jewish texts, rituals, and prayers about the experience of dreaming. We’ll study together, and then engage in a dream circle where we share our dreams and help one another to see more deeply into the messages they offer us. We’ll also learn a variety of bedtime rituals related to dreaming.
Judaism and the Earth
In this session, we’ll survey Jewish texts, laws, rituals, and beliefs related to the earth, environmentalism, and ecology. We will encounter the wide variety of ways Jews have experienced their relationship to the earth, and consider the implications for our own spiritual practice and community choices.
Jewish Guided Meditation: A Practicum
In this session, we will work with a variety of ancient and contemporary styles of Jewish meditation: chant, breathwork, and kabbalistic and Chasidic meditative styles. The goal will be to inform and deepen our own meditative practice, and learn tools for guided meditation in authentic and informed Jewish modes.
Faces of Shekhinah: Meeting the Divine Feminine in Jewish Texts
Devotion to the Divine Mother (Wise Woman, Bride, Queen, etc.) has always been a part of Jewish practice. In this session, we will encounter the enormous variety of female images of God in the Bible, rabbinic literature, Jewish mystical text, and contemporary liturgy. We’ll attempt to understand each of these images on its own terms, and then use each image in meditation to discover its potential for healing and transformation.
Sisters at Sinai: Exploring Biblical Women
Using ancient and contemporary midrash as well as our own observations, we’ll learn about biblical women and try to understand their role in biblical stories. We’ll read biblical women as deeply into the text as we can, seeing them as important characters within the text as well as important role models for our time,
Divine Letters: An Encounter with the Practice of Writing Liturgy
In our individualist society, it is not easy to speak of vulnerability or reverence. This is part of why the genre of prayer can seem opaque and antiquated. We hope, in this session, to make a safe space, a countercultural space, to share our devotion in language we invent, to become poets of the sacred encounter. Using meditation, text study, and personal reflection as our inspiration, we will engage in writing exercises that allow us to create our own contemporary prayers. If you are a student of liturgy or Torah, a poet, a writer, a mystic, a devotee, a lover, a philosopher, or an insomniac, join us!
In this session, we’ll study contemporary poetry as well as ancient legends on biblical characters, and discover how the Jewish interpretive process is still alive in the present. This session can also include a hands-on workshop where participants write their own midrash, and/or a reading from Rabbi Hammer’s book Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women.
“Rabbi Jill Hammer provides her students with in-depth and challenging insights. An extraordinary teacher, she shares her rich knowledge with serious scholarship, joy and creativity. It is a real privilege to study with this transformative thinker.”
—Dr. Sharon Ufberg, chair of the board of Project Kesher
“Rabbi Jill Hammer was invited to our community as the highlight of a three-month long traveling black and white photo exhibit entitled “The Mikvah Project”. Her style was interactive, skillful at teaching to every level of understanding, and she is very well informed. She was creative in her approach, generous with her material and stimulated members of our congregation to think more deeply about ritual in general and mikvah in particular. Because of the interest generated by her talks, a recent Adult Bat Torah class decided to participate in a unique mikvah ritual celebrating this important transition. Rabbi Hammer more than fulfilled our expectations.
—Bonnie Miller, Beth David Synagogue in Greensboro, North Carolina