A quest to achieve wholeness of mind, body, and spirit has led to Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel’s newest endeavor: a Center for Health and Wellness guided by adherence to Jewish tradition.
Bundling programs that have become increasingly popular in congregational life, the center, which was launched this month, is open to the general public and includes classes, seminars, and fitness lessons, according to Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel marketing and outreach director Robin Osman.
Offerings already up and running include lectures on raising healthy children, nutrition classes, meditation sessions, drumming circles, walking groups, yoga, a wellness group for mothers and babies, and support groups for parents and caregivers. All are free except for yoga.
“This is something that we have long discussed wanting to do and decided now was the appropriate time,” said program director Tracy Horwitz. “The inspiration for it comes, in large part, from conversations our senior staff has been having for many years, thanks to the unique qualifications each of us brings to the community.”
Those qualifications are wide-ranging: Horwitz is a licensed social worker; Rabbi Daniel Cohen, who leads the congregation, has a doctorate in pastoral counseling; associate Rabbi Ellie Miller has a master’s degree in Jewish education; and Cantor emeritus Ted Aronson has a master’s degree in social work. Beth Sandweiss, the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest part-time social worker at the temple, is a cofounder of the Jewish Meditation Center of Montclair and regularly leads chanting at her own synagogue, Bnai Keshet, also in Montclair.
The new center, Cohen said, “meshes with the overall philosophy of the congregation: constantly seeking to return to a Judaism that speaks to the entirety of life’s experience rather than focusing specifically on holidays, life-cycle, and other areas that are usually deemed the purview of religion.
“Historically, Judaism spoke to the full range of life experiences,” he said, “and it is only in modernity that religion is defined as narrowly as it often is.”
He pointed out that even Maimonides in the Mishna Torah emphasizes the critical role of a balanced diet and lifestyle.
Marilyn Eglovitch of Maplewood is a regular participant in the center’s Wednesday morning meditation and chant group conducted by Sandweiss. “I was drawn in due to the compassion, passion, and encouragement of our leader, Beth,” said Eglovitch. “I look forward to class each week and I have begun to feel an inner sense of calm.”
For complete schedule and session details, visit www.tsti.org.