The Rabbi Needs a Spiritual Tune-Up


Lizzi Heydemann, 33, is a native Chicagoan, and the founder of Mishkan Chicago, a spiritual community in Chicago started in 2011 whose purpose is to engage, educate, connect and inspire people through dynamic experiences of Jewish learning, prayer and community-building.

I wanted to go rabbinical school because I thought that the job of rabbi was the natural role for someone like me who enjoyed practicing and teaching Judaism, who enjoyed leading services, public speaking, and the spiritual rigor of a daily practice. The five years I spent in rabbinical school from 2005-2010 pushed me in all the right ways - I grew in observance, knowledge and a sense of humor about the Jewish project. I grew in a network of friends, mentors and community leaders around the country and around the world who were doing interesting things with Judaism.

Since graduating from school in 2010, especially since starting Mishkan Chicago in the fall of 2011, I have struggled to maintain all of the above: the network of teachers, mentors, friends and community leaders with whom to share the burdens and blessings of running my own local community; I've struggled to maintain the constant flow of learning that helps create balance and growth as a Jew, not to mention a Jewish leader. Since I am the primary instigator and role model at Mishkan for Jewish observance and learning, this has been tough on me both personally and professionally. I constantly feel like I wish I were learning more Torah, meditating and davening with more regularity, and in conversation with people who "get it." I love the world of Jewish entrepreneurship and innovation, but it doesn't address the spiritual side of what I'm doing. So I've been looking for a retreat or a community of people to get back into that.

The Institute for Jewish Spirituality's Clergy Leadership Institute has been a godsend. The four day retreat that the ROI Go Professional! Micro Grant helped pay for involved daily meditation, prayer, text study, yoga, mindfulness practices around eating and daily activities. The program is 18-months long, involves two more retreats, and has been a professional life-boat - and the Micro Grant made my participation in this possible. It is a cohort of 30 other rabbis and cantors who are all also looking for spiritual bolstering. It was restorative and rejuvenating, not to mention, kick-started a weekly chevruta learning between me and another young clergy person, Vicky Glicken, a cantor, also in her early 30s.

I am so, so grateful to Lynn's vision and the vision of the Schusterman Foundation for knowing that leaders aren't just inherently intellectually and spiritually self-replenishing, but need to be given the means by which to keep growing in all those ways. That is what this Go Professional! Micro Grant made possible for me. Thank you.