Jewish Meditation: Rabbi Doniel Katz

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For more than a decade, Rav Doniel’s open and compassionate teachings have been a catalyst for change in the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born and raised in Australia, Rav Doniel abandoned his award-winning film and theatre career in his mid-twenties after a year of intensive spiritual awakening. Exploring many wisdom paths and traditions in search of deeper clarity to explain his experiences, he was finally led to Jerusalem in 2000, where he has since spent nearly two decades immersed in the world of Torah and Kabbalistic teachings, learning from some of the city’s great rabbis and spiritual masters.

For years, Rav Doniel was a favorite teacher at Neve Yerushalayim and Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem, and he has spent the last decade lecturing extensively around the world.

Highlights include: presenting at the Mind & Life Institute in Massachusetts as part of their 2015 symposium on Science and the Meditational Tools of Abrahamic Traditions; speaking at the Sinai Indaba conference in Johannesburg and Cape Town at the invitation of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, during which over 5000 people attended his Elevation sessions; and presenting at the 2016 Wisdom 2.0 conference in Tel Aviv.

By nature an integrator and systems thinker, Rav Doniel is a spiritual seeker with a gift for facilitating deep spiritual awakenings in those he encounters, whatever their backgrounds or beliefs. Challenging conventional paradigms of self and the nature of reality, his teachings are simultaneously ancient and modern, transcendent and practical, intuitive and intellectual.

Relationships: Rebitzen Gila Manolson

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Gila Manolson was born into an assimilated Jewish family in the northeastern United States. Considering herself an atheist, she expressed her idealism through social causes, including vegetarianism, feminism, and environmentalism. After graduating Yale University and traveling through Europe, she found herself in Jerusalem, where she discovered a “3000-year-old counterculture”—Torah Judaism. Intrigued by its teachings, she decided to stay and study, and never left. Today she is a practicing Orthodox Jew.

Gila has always been interested in the topic of male-female relationships. Unimpressed by how they were conducted in the secular world, she made it her goal to understand the traditional Jewish approach, which she later adopted in dating her husband. Today she is happily married to Avraham and the mother of seven.

Shortly after marrying, Gila embarked upon a teaching and speaking career, which developed into a writing career. The result was a first-of-its-kind book in the Jewish world, which became a bestseller: The Magic Touch: A Jewish Approach to Relationships, a frank discussion of the controversial practice of refraining from all physical contact before marriage.

Gila subsequently published Outside/Inside: A Fresh Approach to Tzniut (modesty, better translated as internality), a spiritual look at self-definition, and Head to Heart: What to Know before Dating and Marriage, a series of essays on topics relevant to marriage preparation. Her newest release for the Jewish world is Choosing to Love: Building a Deep Relationship with Another Person—and with Yourself, a broader and deeper exposition of love, touch, and tzniut. Her books have been translated into Hebrew, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Italian.

Gila is now a popular international lecturer. In addition to speaking widely in Israel, she has given talks in schools, on campuses, and for organizations in 32 major North American cities, as well as outlying communities. Her lecture tours have also taken her to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Russia, Argentina, Chile, and the Netherlands. She was featured in the Aish HaTorah film Inspired.

Believing that her messages are universal, Gila has recently embarked upon a new project: reaching out beyond the Jewish world. With this in mind, she has written Hands Off! This May Be Love for a general, spiritually-oriented audience.

As an author, Gila’s greatest gratification is being told, as she has by countless people, “Your book changed my life.”

Jewish Philosophy: Rabbi Lawrence Keleman

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Rabbi Kelemen is the founder and current Rosh Kollel of the Center for Kehillah Development, a leadership development project devoted to the growth and wellbeing of Jewish communities worldwide. He also created the International Organization of Mussar Vaadim, a network of self-development organizations focusing on character development in more than two dozen communities in Israel and North America. He has been honored as a visiting scholar at universities and communal organizations around the world. During his decade-long tenure at Neve Yerushalayim in Jerusalem, Rabbi Kelemen influenced thousands of students.

Lawrence Kelemen was awarded his undergraduate degree at U.C.L.A. and did graduate studies at Harvard. He began his professional career as a downhill skiing instructor, served as the news director and anchorman for a California radio station, and then traveled to the Middle East to conduct 12 years of post graduate field research.

He is also the author of many journal articles and books, among them: Permission to Believe, Permission to Receive, Planting and Building, and To Kindle a Soul.

Beginner Topics: Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald

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Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald has pioneered and developed many of the most dramatic and effective Jewish programs, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world.  Ordained at Yeshiva University, where he was a student of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Buchwald served from 1973 for 15 years as the Director of Education at Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York, which became one of the largest and most successful centers for adult Jewish education programs in America. In July of 1987, Rabbi Buchwald founded the National Jewish Outreach Program. NJOP sponsors many Jewish awareness campaigns such as Shabbat Across America/Canada and Read Hebrew America/Canada as well as the Crash Courses in Hebrew Reading, Basic Judaism, Prayer and Jewish History. These programs are now offered at more than 3,670 locations across North America, and in 37 countries worldwide.

In November 1997, Rabbi Buchwald was named to the Forward 50, a list of America’s 50 most influential Jews, and in April 2007 and 2008 was included in Newsweek’s list of the top 50 Rabbis in America. In May 2001, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Yeshiva University in recognition of his pioneering outreach work.

Rabbi Buchwald is renowned for making complex Jewish topics easier to grasp through his exceptional pedagogic skills and quick sense of humor. He lectures across the country, and overseas, and leads experiential programs in cities throughout the world.

Rabbi Buchwald and his wife Aidel, reside in New York City, and are the proud parents of four children and three grandchildren.