UCJF Day of Jewish Learning
UCJF Day of Jewish Learning
UCJF Day of Jewish Learning
UCJF Day of Jewish Learning
UCJF Day of Jewish Learning
UCJF Day of Jewish Learning




UCJF Day of Jewish Learning

Rabbi Shir Yaakov Feit and Renee Finklestein
Morning Service

Join the leaders of Kol Hai for a musical and meditative morning practice. Take time to chant selections from the Siddur (“prayer book”) and luxuriate in deep listening to wake up our bodies, open our hearts, and clear our minds towards living a soulful and connected day. No meditation experience or Hebrew knowledge required — just a willingness to slow down and open up. The service will include Mourner’s Kaddish.

Rabbi Shir Yaakov Feit engages Jewish, multi-faith, and non-affiliated people around the world, building spiritual communities, facilitating and inspiring communal music, and helping people connect with their inner wisdom and truth. Shir founded Kol Hai after serving as Creative and Music Director of New York City’s Romemu, the world’s largest Renewal synagogue. He was ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and the ALEPH Ordination Program, is a Wexner Graduate Fellow, and serves as a facilitator of the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreats in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Renee Finkelstein is an interdisciplinary artist, a Hebrew Priestess, and an internationally known sacred musician. Distributed by White Swan Records under the artist name Radharani, her latest album topped billboard New Age charts. Renee is a graduate of Cornell University who spent several years in India and Tibet studying meditation and music. She has led tours to sacred places in India and has taught sacred music, breathwork, and meditation to many students. She has been a part of the musical and spiritual leadership of Kol Hai since 2017.

Rabbi Yael Romer
Exploring the experience of Tefillin. What place might this mitzvah have in your life?

Join Rabbi Yael of Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley for an exploration of the practice of donning Tefillin. Feel free to bring a set of tefillin to our session or just join us for the dialogue around the ritual.

Rabbi Yael Romer has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley since 2001. She completed her BA from Brandeis University in 1983, her MA of Hebrew Literature from HUC-JIR in 1986, received “Smicha” rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR in 1988, earned a Doctor of Divinity in 2016, and was certified as a spiritual director in the Bekhol Levavkha training program in 2017.

Rabbi Yael has served congregations in New Jersey, Canada, New Hampshire and Israel. She was the third female congregational rabbi in Israel and served a congregation in the Northern Galil for 10 years where three of her five children were born.

Today Rabbi Yael lives in Rhinebeck with her husband and is the proud mother and grandmother of five extraordinary adult children and one delicious grandchild, serves the congregation as full time senior rabbi, and maintains a spiritual direction private practice.

Lia Lynn Rosen
L'Hadlik Ner: "Lighting Up" in Jewish History, Art and Practice

Judaism marks the beginning of each holy day with the sanctification of lighting a "Neyr" or candle, marking sacred times,from Shabbat to Hanukkah.

The ancient oil-burning "Neyr" was also the everyday light, as crafted by artisans and written about in the Talmud, where we can learn about its central significance in Jewish history.

Join clay artist and educator Lia Rosen as we view historic images, texts, and even learn to make and light our own personal vegetable oil-burning Neyr/Light, as a peaceful source of comfort and centering in these times.

Lia Lynn Rosen moved to the Hudson Valley from New Mexico 3 years ago. A lifelong Jewish clay artist and educator (Yotzeret), she teaches and creates 'Clay Kodesh' (Sacred Vessels) through her shop in Rosendale, A Potter on Main Street.  She is a member of Kol Hai and Lab/Shul, and resides with her partner in New Paltz.

Reb Sally Shore-Wittenburg
Hadevarim Ha'eleh - these words 

But which are the words? There are so many words to inspire and teach us; how can we incorporate them into our lives? Mussar helps us focus on and improve specific character traits so that we may walk in the ways of the Divine. Join me for a brief introduction to and taste of Mussar.

Sally Shore-Wittenburg has been the spiritual Leader of the Kerhonkson Synagogue in Ulster County NY since 2012, leading services there in a contemplative and meditative style. Based in lower Westchester County, Sally has been learning and teaching Jewish topics in communities since 2010. Of special interest have been Mussar, meditation, Wise Aging, and Hasidic thought.

While enrolled in the rabbinic track at the Academy for Jewish religion, Sally also completed several units of Clinical Pastoral Education at JTS. Happily married for 40 years, Sally & Bruce are the parents of four sons and 2 perfect granddaughters.

Rabbi Hanoch Hecht
Kabbalah of Food: Searching for the deeper meaning of food through Chasidic tales

So much of Judaism involves food: special foods for holidays, the laws of kashrut that tell us what is fit to eat, blessings before and after eating to express our gratitude. Jews also love stories: stories from Torah, the stories about our holidays, and the stories of great teachers, many of which involve food. Through Chasidic tales, we will learn how food can nourish our spirits as well as our bodies.

Hanoch Hecht is rabbi of the Rhinebeck Jewish Center, where he teaches and makes delicious food for his family and his community. His book A Kabbalah of Food: Stories, Teachings, Recipes was published recently.


Judith Kerman
Reb Kugel’s Teshuvah on Jewish Sacred Clowning

What, you ask, is sacred clowning? And what is the role of sacred clowning in Judaism?  The Sages teach us that most cultures have forms of ritual humor in which the most sacred tenets of the group's faith are parodied and significant parts of social control are allowed to lapse for a period of festival. A party! A party!  And Purim is only one part of the tradition.

Come to Reb Kugel’s workshop to find out more. Reb Kugel will give a teaching about Sacred Clowning in Judaism, and introduce the Borscht Stand, featuring all the latest flavors. Bring your favorite Jewish jokes.

Judy Kerman, a.k.a. Reb Kugel, is a poet, musician and artist who has been clowning around since the late 1970’s. Reb Kugel themself was born in 1994. He/she/they is a 9th degree borscht belt who clowns around Woodstock, where else?

Julia Indichova
irth Your Next Creation and repair the earth: An introduction to the fertile heart Birthing Practice 

“…every little deed counts, every word has power, and we can, each of us, do our share to redeem the world…” Abraham Joshua Heschel

The longing to use our gifts and make a contribution that serves the greater good, springs from the deepest, most truthful place within us. Whether one yearns to birth a baby, a book, a relationship, a healthier body, a business, or a peaceful world, the process remains the same: conception, gestation, labor, and finally birth.


Through experiential processes we will:

  1. place our creation into a context of Tikkun Olam
  2. understand Bereshit as a blueprint of the creative process
  3. introduce the concepts of the Fertile Heart Birthing Practice
  4. recognize the “Catch 22” of longing to create
  5. enhance our ability to receive trustworthy inner guidance
  6. experience creation as a conscious revelatory process

Julia Indichova is the author of Inconceivable, The Fertile Female & One-Heart Revolution. Her work has been featured on, NPR’s 51%, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey ShowDiscovery Health, Tablet Magazine, Huffington Post, The Forward and more. She is the founder of FertileHeart.com and FertileHeartedHuman.org 

Desirée O’Clair
PJ Library

Gather some paper, scissors, and a glue stick, and make a beautiful collage while learning about Tu B' Shevat. You can use random scraps of construction paper, newspaper, magazine pages, brown paper bag, foil, tissue paper. Get creative!

Desiree O’Clair is a writer and storyteller. She is the Program Coordinator for PJ Library and looks forward to offering creative programming for children and their grownups in the future.

For more information, contact Desirée at PJLibrary@ucjf.org.

Rabbi Charna Rosenholtz
Finding Joy in the face of Adversity

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (1889-1943), also known as the Piaceszner Rebbe and by the name of his signature work Esh Kodesh (Holy Fire), was a Hasidic rabbi who tragically perished in the Holocaust in 1943. He was a giant among men, a rabbi for all times, and an inspiration for many people in the darkest of times. In 1940, from the heart of the Warsaw Ghetto, he wrote: “In the face of death and bereavement...I have found the strength to rejoice and have inspired others to do so as well...This inner strengthening will itself have the effect of turning evil into good.” Together we will learn more about his life and works, and understand how he was able to keep his faith and trust in God throughout his travails.

Rabbi Charna Rosenholtz is an accomplished teacher, specializing in psycho-spiritual growth and applications of spiritual wisdom.  Ordained as a Rabbi by AELPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and as a Hebrew wisdom teacher (Maggid) by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, she also holds a Masters Degree in Religious Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, CO.  She has mentored with medicine women, clergy, and master teachers in the development of human potential.  Rabbi Charna is currently the Reb Zalman Scholar in Residence at Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder CO.

Gail Albert
Guarding the Earth: The New Jewish Environmental Movement

How Kabbalah and Hasidic Teaching are Transforming Our Understanding of the Torah’s Command to Guard the Earth.

Genesis clearly separates us from the rest of Creation, for only humans are made in God’s image. In contrast, Kabbalah and Hasidic teachings both insist that there is nothing but God, that all of Creation is a manifestation of the Divine Presence. As these teachings have spread through Judaism via the Renewal movement, they have helped foster a new Jewish environmental movement.

We will look at how these teachings change our sense of responsibility toward the Earth, particularly in this era of climate crisis, and how they resonate with modern scientific understanding.

Gail Albert received her PhD in psychology from The Johns Hopkins University, and is a licensed psychologist, Vipassana practitioner, and certified teacher of Jewish meditation. Gail has offered meditation groups on Torah at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation since 2004 and has given talks and workshops on Jewish meditation in a variety of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu settings. Her third book explores the Torah as a continuous metaphoric narrative guiding us on our personal spiritual journey parasha by parasha. It is called Mending the Heart, Tending the Soul:  Directions to the Garden Within and it has received enthusiastic reviews.  Her first book, Matters of Chance, was a National Book Award Finalist. She can be found at www.gailalbertphd.com.

Julie Makowsky

This workshop is meant to encourage your creativity using prompts to help craft words of prayer that can be used in personal prayers. While acknowledging Judaism’s rich tradition of fixed liturgy and ritual which has been so important in shaping the rhythm of our lives, we also cannot forget that we are gifted with the ability of creating prayer though our intentions/Kavanah. Participants will explore some origins of prayer-making; engage in a short meditation to spark Kavanah; and engage in the creative process through the writing of our own prayers.

Participants in this workshop are asked to have writing paper and pen at hand, be willing to open their hearts and minds in our process and, if comfortable, be willing to share and contribute to others during the workshop.

 Julie Stein-Makowsky graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America with an M.A. in Jewish Education. She has worked in the field of Jewish Education for over 30 years.  Julie completed three years of Clinical Pastoral Education and works as an Interfaith Chaplain for Hudson Valley Hospice. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Interfaith Ministry in Pastoral Counseling at HUC-JIR in NYC. Julie lives in Rhinebeck, NY with her husband Bob.

Avigayil Landsman
Hidden in Plain SightInterpreting the Torah through the small, extra or additional Hebrew letters in the text

Torah scrolls are handwritten on parchment by dedicated scribes who spend years learning their skilled craft. Part of the tradition is that certain letters are larger, smaller, or additional to the regular text-- but the original reasons have been lost. That leaves openings for us to create our own understanding of the different letters and draw closer to the text.

Avigayil Landsman is the creator of Letters from Heaven: Spiritual Guidance from the Hebrew Letters for Every Day of Your Life, an illustrated book and card deck. She has been a student of Torah for many years.


Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
“A Brief History of Tu B’Shvat”

Tu B’Shvat - the New Year for Trees - offers a wonderful case study in the unending creativity of Jewish tradition. Originally a date for determining tithes from orchards, across the centuries Tu B’Shvat was revitalized first with mystical, then Zionist, and today ecological customs and significance, in particular the Tu B’Shvat seder. But the central theme has never wavered: a celebration of trees. We will examine each phase of this sweet holiday.

Jonathan Kligler has been the rabbi of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation since 1988.



Sarah Litvin, PhD
Who Remembers the Reher's  Bakery Challah?

From 1908 until 1980, the Reher family operated a bread bakery from 101 Broadway in Kingston, at the corner of Spring Street in the Rondout neighborhood. Today, the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History is recreating the bakery and offering tours and programs that tell the Reher family's story and invite visitors of all backgrounds to share their experiences of immigration, community, work, and bread. Reher's Bakery was famous for their Rye bread on Wednesdays, hard rolls on Sundays, and Challah on Fridays. In this session, Reher Center director Dr. Sarah Litvin will introduce Reher's Bakery and the Reher Center through photos and videos, then invite those who remember Reher's challahs to describe its texture and flavor, and share memories of the Rehers and their Bakery.

Sarah Litvin, PhD, is Director of the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History. She was formerly on the curatorial team of the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History, a researcher and guide for Turnstile Tours, and the exhibits and education teams at the Tenement Museum from 2008-2013. She came to Kingston in 2019 to become the Center's first director after completing her PhD in U.S. history with a dissertation on how women used the upright parlor piano to pursue their far-flung ambitions and expand women’s roles at the turn of the twentieth century. When not talking history, Sarah enjoys running and cycling in the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley.

Carol Fox Prescott
Listening to The Voice of Our Mothers

Join me to breathe new life into our ancient texts, while penetrating the intimate and powerful narratives of the women of Torah. As we witness that female dance on the other side of the sea, we cannot help but follow, right into our own lives.

Recognized as “one of the most influential acting coaches in this country,” Carol Fox Prescott, joyous Jew, performance coach to actors, clergy and others, teaches her approach to heartfelt communication, nationally, internationally and virtually.

She is the author of Breathing, Awareness and Joy: An approach to Acting for the 21st Century, and co-author and editor of the unique Haggadah, In the Voice Of Our Mothers: A New Way To Tell The Story Of Passover.


Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend!