The Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn is a home for Jewish meditation in New York City and beyond: a thriving community of meditators and spiritual leaders who are transforming the world through the cultivation of awareness, compassion, and Jewish wisdom. The JMC is a grassroots organization that supports learning, spiritual practice, and community building through weekly sitting meditation sessions, social events, holiday workshops, classes, and a vibrant online presence.
What is Jewish Meditation?
Our understanding, as practitioners, teachers, and Jews, is that meditation is a tool or technique, not inherently Buddhist or Jewish or anything else. When we infuse our meditation practice with Jewish language, intentions, texts, and understanding, that translates into Jewish meditation.
Judaism has a very long history of meditation and contemplative practice. Some people translate the Hebrew word we use for prayer, t’fillah, as meditation. For thousands of years, there have been Jewish teachers in every part of the world teaching meditation, Kabbalah, mystical interpretations, and deeply spiritual practices. Jewish meditation can include mindfulness, concentration, and awareness practices, incorporating prayers, blessings, and visualizations.
Judaism as a religion and identity is individual, evolving, and personal, as are all spiritual paths, and meditation is a practice that intersects these beliefs and traditions. If we bring our whole selves to our meditation practices, and we are Jewish, then we are practicing Jewishly. Whether we are simply following our breath, focusing on “placing God before us always,” as we read in daily prayers or cultivating tikkun olam, healing the world, from the inside out, practicing Jewish meditation is a way to find relaxation, stillness, healing, and a sense of peace, as well as personal transformation and a deep connection to our Source.
History: A JMC Grows in Brooklyn
The Jewish Meditation Center was founded by two women in their 20s, responding to an articulated need for Jewish community informed by their generation’s desire for creative approaches to spirituality, social change, and leadership. In 2011, it transitioned into a completely volunteer-run organization. The JMC is the only Jewish contemplative practice community created and run by young Jews, a replicable and groundbreaking model, bridging awareness, compassion and Jewish wisdom.
We approach spirituality from an insightful and dynamic perspective, drawing on our commitment to ground-up governance, open-source beliefs, and collective participation. Recent studies have shown that the high numbers of young Jews choosing not to affiliate with synagogues are not actually defecting from Judaism. Instead, we’ve been looking for expanded, deeply authentic versions of spiritual practice in environments where our voices are represented. Not so surprisingly, according to a 2009 report, young Jews are more spiritually inclined on every available measure than their elders. The Jewish Meditation Center answers this call. Gathering around our collective desire and dedication to cultivating a deeply Jewish contemplative community in which to practice, learn, lead, and grow, the JMC is ushering in the next generation of Jewish meditation. We hope you’ll join us!