New feature: All registrants to AJS courses which have already taken place are now entitled to a free one-on-one meeting with the course teacher.
The High Holidays are a potent time for personal growth, but oftentimes it takes work and preparation to truly reap their benefits. This course, led by Rabbi Ami Silver, is designed to help you enter deeply into these holidays, to explore the unique meaning and practices embedded in these days, and to access their transformative potential.
The five classes combine in-depth textual study together with guided practices and exercises to help integrate these teachings into our own experience.
Here are descriptions of the topics this course will cover:
1. Rosh Hashana - A Day of Love
Rosh Hashana is not mentioned in the Biblical text - at least not in the way that we’re familiar with it. In this session, we’ll explore a range of primary texts about Rosh Hashana, from the Bible through the Talmud and Midrash, in order to uncover what this day is really about. This will offer us a new framework for relating to this day, and experiencing it with a greater sense of connection and possibility.
2. “God, Open My Lips” Prayer as Path of Teshuva
Traditionally, the majority of the High Holiday experience is spent engaged in prayer. This can be filled with moments of inspiration and elation, and can also feel overwhelming or hard to connect with. In this session, we’ll use a fundamental prayer text to explore an embodied approach to prayer that relates to the High Holidays in particular, and offers a powerful framework for stepping into prayer.
3. Hearing the Voice of the Shofar
The Shofar plays a central role in the holiday of Rosh Hashana. It is rich with symbolism and associations. Based on a Chassidic teaching from Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman of Piaseczna (1889–1943), we will develop a particular orientation towards Shofar that ties to the core of our relationship with the Divine, and guides us towards an inner, embodied experience of this practice.
4. Yom Kippur - Transcending Shame
Yom Kippur is oftentimes considered the most sacred day of the year. It is a day of atonement and internal cleansing. One of the central practices of this day is confessing our sins and misdeeds. This session will focus on a teaching from the Chassidic master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) that offers a paradigm for using this practice to transcend our sense of shame and smallness, and bring more of ourselves into presence.
5. Sukkot - Tasting Joy, Tasting Life
The holiday of Sukkot comes a mere four days after Yom Kippur, and it is in a sense the culmination of the High Holiday period. Rather than being a time of somber reflection, Sukkot is called “zman simchateinu - the time of our greatest joy.” This session will explore the joyful nature of Sukkot through a number of Rabbinic texts, that guide us toward an enlivening and liberating experience of this holiday.
This course will provide you with a deeper understanding of the opportunities for growth during this period, and a practical framework for pursuing inner transformation. All texts will be presented in Hebrew and English, with clear line-by-line translations; no prior knowledge or experience with the subject matter is necessary.
How does it work?
The course includes five 1-hour recorded classes, which can be watched or listened to at your convenience.
Each session includes:
A source sheet with Hebrew and English texts covered in each session
A practice based on that class’ study session. Practices will be presented with gentle guidance and clear instructions by Rabbi Ami, with plenty of room for participants to practice in the way that feels most suited for them.
An open channel to the teacher, including one meeting during the course, to process the journey through the teachings and practices of each class.
I’m looking forward to learning and growing with you!
This course showed me why "אין קדושה בלי הכנה" - There is no holiness (sacred spark) without preparation (focused intention). This year, R' Ami's eye and heart-opening teachings accompanied me from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur and into Sukkot. It is no coincidence that I had one of the most enriching high holiday seasons of recent memory.
- Karin Fleisch
I do a lot of Jewish education and community work in Germany and France, and in the run-up to the high holidays I was very busy with practical preparations. Taking Rabbi Ami Silver's course was a gift to myself, a framework to let me focus on my own process and inner preparations. It was a fulfilling experience. Old texts were made fresh and deepened with Ami's sensitive readings, he reminded us how powerful and relevant they were, and how they could be guides for the places we needed to work on. For me, it really enriched the high holiday season.
- Josh Weiner
I've had the privilege to learn with Rav Ami in several different settings, both in person and online. Learning with Rav Ami Silver provides the ongoing nourishment that both my mind and heart seek for sound well being… Rav Ami's style of teaching naturally opens my heart, especially cultivating the courage to move along uncharted areas within my own inner emotional landscape… Learning with Rav Ami quenches my soul's thirst to engage with text that brings me closer to the Divine Presence within me and around me. He offers a comprehensive well balanced experience of understanding text as a means to inform one's own spiritual contemplative practice - and with the additional treat of his warm smile, soft voice and passionate presence.
- Yiscah Smith, spiritual activist, educator, mentor and meditation guide