Jewish Spiritual Education (JSE)

What is JSE?jse image for newcaje

JSE provides the tools you need to cultivate the soulful, mitzvah-centered learning and living, which is vital to student and family engagement, health, and development. Learn to create educational experiences for all ages by focusing on the “Torah of relationships”. Our program engages the educator roles of maggidim (storytellers) and mashpi’im (guides) as we immerse in contemporary and traditional texts, practices and stories.

Jewish Spiritual Education (JSE) is a two-year certification program for Jewish educators (Principals, teachers, b’nei mitzvah educators, camp & guidance counselors, group facilitators, program directors & clergy). This program is being offered by the non-denominational 501C3 non-profit Reclaiming Judaism in collaboration with NewCAJE. Core faculty are Peninnah Schram, Danny Siegel, Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Batya Podos, Cassandra Sagan and Mindy Shapiro, (see the tab above for faculty bios).

JSE incorporates these four areas of teaching and mentoring from our faculty:

Goal for MITZVOT: Deepen your capacity to connect students to at least 50 of these spiritual practices that support healthy relationships while providing a meaningful Jewish lens for living throughout each day.

Our Goal for MUSSAR: Prepares you to nurture the development of your students by learning the primary attributes (middot) and sacred texts of this powerful set of mindfulness practices.

Our Goal for MAGGID: is to ensure that you attain a substantial repertoire of relevant traditional & contemporary mitzvah & mussar stories, along with advancing your storytelling skills into the guidance dimension associated with maggidut.

Our Goal for HASHPA’AH: is supporting your own spiritual development and that of your students, through classical methods, as well as those derived from the contemplative, healing, creative and expressive practices and arts.

JSE Training interweaves these four specific topics because these inspire love, transmission and retention of Jewish learning and living.

Why host the annual retreat at NewCAJE?

Because we know many of you will want to attend the NewCAJE conference, we are deliberately weaving this JSE retreat with the conference in order to save you duplications on travel, room & board, and training. Your attendance will be half-days with JSE and half-days with NewCAJE workshops. After NewCAJE (typically Wednesday at noon), JSE continues until mid Friday. (NewCAJE YPs note, JSE will be scheduled so as to not conflict with any of your workshops).

What certification will I receive?

In addition to receiving the JSE Certification, those who wish to attain Maggid Educator Ordination through the lineage of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi can apply after a year in the program for consideration to remain a third year in supervised practice, research and study with Rabbi Goldie Milgram and other clergy from the faculty of Reclaiming Judaism.

This program requires you to have a paid or volunteer setting where you are applying your learning with the age group(s) of your choice.

What if I already have training?

For those previously trained or who are currently training elsewhere in one of the aspects of this program, please keep in mind that studying with a wide variety of master teachers in your field enhances your knowledge and provides a valuable opportunity to learn from a broad spectrum of teachers. Further the integration of 4 dimensions here reflects the creation of a new educational paradigm, possibly one not previously taught elsewhere.

Can I get academic credit?

We will provide additional support as needed for those seeking independent study or other credit for clergy, EdD, M.Ed, BA, and other programs in which you may be enrolled.

Contact us if you need more information:

E-mail Rabbi Goldie Milgram at

Inquiries and applications:

Peninnah_Schram_largePeninnah Schram, storyteller, teacher, author and recording artist, is Professor of Speech and Drama at Stern College of Yeshiva University. She is author of twelve books of Jewish folktales, including The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales, and recorded a CD, The Minstrel and the Storyteller with singer/guitarist Gerard Edery. Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning (Reclaiming Judaism Press) was published in her honor. Peninnah is a recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for Outstanding Jewish Educator (1995) awarded by The Covenant Foundation. She has been awarded the National Storytelling Network’s 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award “For sustained and exemplary contributions to storytelling in America.”


professionalsiegelphotograph-2Danny Siegel is best known for bringing the discussion of Tzedakah and doing Tikkun Olam back into Jewish communities. A well-known author, lecturer, and poet, Danny has spoken in more than 500 North American Jewish communities on personalized Tzedakah, Mitzvah heroes, and Jewish values. He is the author of numerous books, including Danny Siegel’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah Book: A Practical Guide For Changing the World Through Your Simcha;Heroes and Miracle Workers, a collection of essays about everyday people who are Mitzvah Heroes; Who, Me? Yes, You! — Danny Siegel’s WorkbookTo Help You Decide Where, When, Why, and How You Can Do Your Best Tikkun Olam; and Giving Your Money Away — How Much, How to, Why, When, and to Whom: Danny Siegel’s Practical Guide to Personalized Tzedakah. He has also published several collections of poetry and children’s stories. Danny served as the Tzedakah Resource Person on the United Synagogue Youth Israel Pilgrimage for 37 years, and is a recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.

 Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Intensive Session: Mitzvahs, Tzedakah, and Tikkun Olam


goldie milgram umbrella headshotRabbi Goldie Milgram,, and is best known for her inspiring programs and innovative resources that prepare Jewish educators, clergy and families to guide students towards more meaningfully living and loving their Judaism. A widely published author, internationally acclaimed storyteller and workshop leader, who has served as a religious school teacher, principal, BJE director, Federation executive, & seminary dean, “Reb Goldie” returns with her newest releases: Mitzvah Stories for The Whole Family, and matching 54 card decks of MITZVAH CARDS (Reclaiming Judaism Press), and Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 Intensive Session: Reclaiming Bar/Bat mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage: Principles, Methods and Materials



batya podos jse faculty cropped

Batya Podos is an ordained maggid, teacher and storyteller in the Jewish tradition. She also teaches pre-b’nai mitzvah students at her congregation and is the director of “Abraham’s Tent”—an interfaith summer camp for Christian, Jewish and Muslim children. One of her goals is to have children connect with the Divine through their personal experience of the stories within their tradition. She brings to JSE and NewCaje over thirty years of experience as an artist-in-residence, educational consultant and curriculum specialist, and as a middle school drama/language arts teacher. Her new publications for young people and families include Rebecca and the Talisman of Time (Portal Center Press) and she is also a contributor to New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family (Reclaiming Judaism Press) and The Language of Life, by Milt Markewitz, which explores the meaning of the energetic patterns of the Hebrew letters. Batya also leads services, teaches from the bima, facilitates holiday celebrations, and offers shabbatonim.



mindy shapiro cropped 2013Mindy Shapiro, M.A, is a Jewish communal professional with 30 years of experience. She was the founding director of Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, a program of Moving Traditions. She has also worked for other Jewish organizations including Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, International Hillel and the Gershman Y. Mindy has been studying  Mussar with Rabbi Stone since 2003 and teaching since 2009. Mussar provides her with a framework for leading a more mindful life, something she helps others to do. She is also a papercut artist and teacher. Mindy serves on the editorial team for the next release from Reclaiming Judaism Press, in honor of Danny Siegel: New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family.


Cassandra Sagan has devoted her life to helping others access their creative Cassandrabrilliance through poetry, storytelling, movement, and Torah. For twenty years Cassandra taught as a Poet in the Classroom with every age group and population, pre-schoolers through high school, adults and seniors; in gifted, new immigrant, and special needs classrooms; editing and producing almost 100 volumes of student writing. An ukulele toting singer/songwriter, Cassandra performs a weave of original and traditional songs and stories, while encouraging audience participation and individual expression. She is an ordained Maggid, a mosaic artist, an InterPlay leader, and has developed InterPlay Torah study, a playful approach to personal midrash, insight, and embodied Torah.

Turn Jewish Education on Its Head and Get Credit, too!jse image for newcaje

Peninnah Schram, Danny Siegel, Goldie Milgram, Batya Podos, Cassandra Sagan and Mindy Shapiro have created a two-year distance learning program, JSE: Jewish Spiritual Education which gives credit for their NewCaje intensives as well as their open session during the conference. These master teachers are teaching the skills, principles and providing the resources you need to transform Jewish education into a setting that responds to the deepest needs and yearnings of Jewish youth and families, while at the same time developing their love and appreciation of the profound value of Judaism and being a Jew. A third year option for smichah as a Maggid-Educator (Maggid-Morah) or Jewish Spiritual Arts Educator through the lineage of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is also being introduced in this program.  You can taste a sampler by attending segments during NewCaje or apply now and stay for the full JSE intensive through noon on Friday, August 15, 2014 of NewCaje.


What skills will you gain? The program emphasis is on mitzvot of the  Torah of Relationships—to self, to others, to nature and to God. Peninnah Schram will be offering master classes in mitzvah-centered professional Jewish storytelling and maggid certification; Danny Siegel will be teaching sacred text from a spiritual and activist perspective; Maggidah Cassandra Sagan will give over InterPlay dynamic movement-based and personal story approaches to mitzvah-centered Torah study and prayer; Batya Podos will teach how to integrate the methods of Jewish spiritual education into schools and curricula; Mindy Shapiro, will offer awareness training through the lens of mussar; and Rabbi Goldie Milgram, program dean, will teach how to work safely and soulfully to bring the real lives of your students into a soulful relationship with each other, their families, friends and the natural world through a meaningful Jewish lens for living.
Why turn Jewish education on its head and shift the emphasis to support the Torah of Relationships over a forum for primary Jewish learning? This requires a story that took place in a school where a young student, we’ll call her Ashley raised her hand in a Mitzvah-Centered Life assembly program given by “Reb Goldie”:

“That was such a cool story. But have always wanted to ask one thing. Why be Jewish? Anyone can be a good person, religion doesn’t seem necessary. So why be Jewish?” Goldie listened raptly to Ashley’s question and responded: “May I answer your question with a question? (Ashley nodded yes) How does a person refrain from holding a grudge after a friend is really mean to her?”
Ashley responded. “That’s a good question, it’s something that happens a lot. Why did you ask me that?” Reb Goldie: “There’s this set of practices in our tradition, refraining from holding a grudge and refraining from taking revenge, lo tikom v’lo titur, and last week a group of Canadian students picked them out from a deck of Mitzvah Cards I gave them as a big issue in their lives, too.” Ashley: “I never heard of that. Do you want an answer now?” Reb Goldie: “Sure, if something comes to mind.” Ashley looks at the principal and asks” “Is there time to talk about it now?” (Principal hesitantly nods yes.) Ashley looks around at her peer group and asks, “Anyone else want to? Hands?” Most of the hands go up. She looks at Reb Goldie and says: Imagine if everyday we had a talk about real things, that would really worth it. So, my thought is….” An hour later, noticing carpool parents were hanging in the doorway listening intently, Reb Goldie invites them into the exploration, asking for volunteers to retell the mitzvah story she’d shared from a collection created by Peninnah Schram and invoking the memory a time Danny Siegel had helped her find a personal connection to Judaism that turned it from pure rote learning into a source of powerful meaning for living.
As the session continues she asks: “Have you ever heard the Jewish saying ‘the body is the instrument on which the soul plays life for God?” An older sibling, maybe age 14, who is standing waiting with carpool parent turns to look directly at the speaker. Noticing the movement, Reb Goldie sees the youth is moving his hand to cover scars on his arms, she guesses,  from cutting himself. Another student raises his hand: “I never heard that…the human body is like my violin, is that what you’re suggesting?”
Reb Goldie: My teacher Reb Zalman shared that as a way of helping some of us when we were young and drugs were just getting popular, one of my friends had already died in a motorcycle accident when he was high…well, it’s a powerful saying, changed my perspective. We don’t have time now, so how about a walk in the park next time so we aren’t stuck outdoors and we could continue on this thread about the body and playing the song of your life. If anyone feels like writing the first verse of the song of your life and sending it to me on email, I’ll keep it confidential…I’d love to learn more about you, how you suffer and celebrate, your talents, your dreams while I’m in town this month as a guest teacher…did you know the Talmud shares lots about the rabbis dreams? It’s pretty shocking what they write in there. We can look a section one time if you’d like…
As rates of depression, suicide, drug use and more continue to rise among our precious student populations, the ability to turn Jewish education on it’s head so that it becomes a source of support and meaning for living for our students is vital. For our deepest role as educators is to support them with a Judaism then helps them to love life, respect life and choose life. JSE is a groundbreaking effort to help us develop as a profession. Registered applicants to date are each remarkable in their own right and so, together we will grow.


For more information on the Jewish Spiritual Education (JSE) offerings from Reclaiming Judaism in partnership with NewCaje, or to join the full two year training (certification) or three year training (ordination as a Maggid-Educator or Jewish Spiritual Arts Educator through the lineage of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi) under the supervision of Rabbi Goldie Milgram, and Executive Director of Reclaiming Judaism, Peninnah Schram and Danny Siegal, email Reb Goldie, Dean of Jewish Spiritual Education at










turning Jewish education into



one day Rabbi Goldie Milgram realized the problem with most approaches to Jewish education is the absence of relevance to the daily lives of the students, their need to learn



When asked they and their families are seeking “spirituality and meaning for living” and an answer to “Over 50% of their families are fractured by divorce, many have learning challenges, 13% of deaths between ages ten and 24 are from suicide, many struggle with gender identity, physical maturity for girls was 16 in the 1800s it is 12.5 today. Outside of religious school over 50 percent ofTreating them like hard drives upon which to impress the greatest amount of information possible, as though any one of them might G-d forbid, one day be the last “Torah” standing is traumatic and alienating. They have real lives and

Sunday, August 10
Required 6C 8:30-3 pm Meet, greet and intensive: Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage [Contains core principles of Jewish Spiritual Education, mitzvah depth studies, and some hashpa’ah.]
Elective Credit
1.5C 5-6:30 pm Interplay Torah Study  (Cassandra Sagan)
1.5C 5-6:30 pm Whispers of Shma       (Helene Kates)
1.5C 5-6:30 pm Foundations of Holy Community (Mimi Feigelson)
1.5C 5-6:30 pm Abraham’s Tent (Batya Podos)
Monday, August 11
Required 9am-12pm Jump In…Become a Maggid (Peninnah Schram & Goldie Milgram)
Elective Credit
1.5C 2-3:30 pm Tree of Life Yoga in the Classroom (Rivka Coburn)
3.0C 2-5 pm Nurturing the Souls of Students (Jay LeVine)
1.5C 4-5:30 pm Spirituality and Reality (Tamar Frankiel)
1.5C 4-5:30 pm Finding Their Own Torah (Batya Podos)
Required 1.5 C 8-9:25 pm. NewCaje Arts/Storytelling showcase.
Tuesday, August 12
3C Required 9am-noon Storytelling Master Class (Peninnah Schram and Cherie Karo Schwartz)
1.5C Required 2-3:30 pm Oh Pure Soul in You I See  (Mindy Shapiro and Cassandra Sagan)
1.5C Required 4-5:30 pm Jewish Godly Play (George Kelley)
Wednesday, August 13
1.5C Required 8:45-10:15 pm Bringing Spirituality into the Classroom (Batya Podos)
1.5C Elective  10:30-12  Your Jewish Name (Peninnah Schram and Goldie Milgram)
5.0C Required 1-6 pm  Mitzvahs, Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam (Danny Siegel)
Thursday, August 14
1.5C Required 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Interplay warm-ups with
Cassandra: Building community followed by Interplay theory/teaching
1.5C Required  10:30-Noon Advancing in Mussar (Mindy Shapiro)
Required Noon-2 pm Lunch break with one-on-one mentoring
1C Required 2:00-2:45 pm JSE & Curriculum Development, leading into work in faculty/student teams (Batya Podos)
1C Required 2:45-3:30 pm Work in teams on mitzvah/story/mussar presentations [NOTE: While you will be preparing 40 min presentations, you’ll have 20 min to offer a segement; so bring your ideas and themes but expect to develop your presentation during the week and with your JSE mentor and team members.]
3:30 – 3:45 pm Break
2.5C Required 3:45 pm-6:30 pm  Interplay quickie leads into Team Presentations
6:30-7:50 pm Break for dinner on own or with mentor if your mentor has more than one mentee, it’s your turn.
8-10 pm   JSE Improv and community building evening
Friday, August 15
Required 1C   8-8:45 am   Farbrengen (Story-based) Davennen’ with R’Goldie
Required 1C  8:45-9:30 am  Visioning your JSE fieldwork and review of curriculum and schedule for 2014-2016.
Required .5C 9:30-10 am   Co-creating and holding our closing circle

Jewish Spiritual Education Certification has several required components. There are three separate fees involved:

1.) (ANNUAL) JSE (Jewish Spiritual Education) Intensive At NewCAJE 2014:

Begins 8:30am on Sunday, August 10, 2014.  Meet and Greet followed by 9-3pm workshop. JSE continues interwoven with NewCAJE so that you can attend both fluidly. JSE’s retreat week continues after NewCaje full-time until noon Friday, August 15.


  • Normal registration through NewCAJE: $845 (Program, Room & Board), $745 (Commuter)
  • Additional days with Reclaiming Judaism: $180 (double occupancy room), $280 (single occupancy room), $50 (Commuter)

Questions? Contact Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Dean, JSE,

2.) YEARLY TRAINING (Continues after NewCAJE, a link will be sent to those accepted to determine best day of week and time of day based on time zones involved): 

$998/year in addition to the retreat fees. This includes:

  • Four 7-week, hour-long teleconference classes per year.
  • Monthly 50-minute telephone or Skype supervision by a faculty member in the applications of JSE training to your life and work.
  • Maggid Mitzvah Educator Certification through the lineage of Peninnah Schram and Danny Siegel upon completion of the 2-year program.
  • Maggid Educator Smichah (ordination) through the lineage of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi at the end of an additional third year, upon acceptance into that third year’s program which includes his additional training requirements.
Please Note: that additional costs for which you will be responsible are books/cds as per faculty syllabi, webcam/mike for your computer, retreat parking, all transportation including airport shuttles, & singles supplement if you require a room of your own.


  • One half teleconference tuition scholarship will be awarded each year for a program assistant.
  • Several $500-$1000/year scholarships are available from the Peninnah Schram Scholarship Fund, the Makor HaLev Foundation and the Handwerker Fund at Reclaiming Judaism. Scholarship application will be invited after students are accepted into the program.

Smichah/Ordination Optional Year 3: Being a Jewish educator is sacred service, deeply holy work and this JSE program restores Jewish education towards incorporation of attention to the Jewish and personal journey of each individual soul, each of us and our students. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (aka, Reb Zalman) has pioneered the restoration of ordination–smichah–for a number of traditional identities–among them maggid, Jewish spiritual storyteller and mashpia, spiritual guide. Those who further apply and are accepted to remain in the JSE program at the end of their second year for for a third year will receive additional training in the field of Jewish spiritual texts, guidance and development and receive smichah–ordination as a Maggidah-Morah or Maggid-Moreh/Jewish Spiritual Arts Educator under the supervision of program dean, Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram and Peninnah Schram and Danny Siegel through the lineage of Reb Zalman.