Jewish Forward Chooses Rabbi Yael as One of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis

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Rabbi Yael Levy is among 28 rabbis named as "America's Most Inspiring" by the Jewish Forward. She is the only Pennsylvania rabbi included in the list.

In an article posted online on March 17, 2014, the Forward recognized 28 men and women who, in the words of Forward editor Jane Eisner, "are connecting with Jews and strengthening communities across America." Eisner said that, among the themes that emerged from hundreds of nominations were spirituality and meditation.

In an excerpt from one of four nominating letters for Rabbi Yael, Bea Leopold writes, "In my studies with Rabbi Yael Levy, I have both learned and experienced that Jewish Mindfulness practice connects me to lessons and messages given through our ancestors." Leopold said that spiritual practice helped her especially when she learned she was losing her hair permanently. She said that her ability to "draw strength to accept the twists and turns of my own story has been eased by Rabbi Yael's teachings."

The Forward, the leading Jewish newspaper in the United States, is known for its annual "Forward 50" list of Jews who have made an impact in the Jewish community. This is the second year the newspaper has asked for nominations of rabbis "who, every day, without fanfare and often without recognition, taught and led and touched and inspired."

Other nominating letters for Rabbi Yael mentioned her "love and connection to Torah and the natural world; her leading of amazing Shavuot retreats to the high desert (of New Mexico), her heartfelt and meditative Shabbat services; her spiritual direction, including hevruta and daily prayer practices and her belief that by connecting with the divine mystery, we can transform the world." Nominators also cited Rabbi Yael's "brilliant translations of Jewish texts that are posted daily online"  as well as her guide to Counting the Omer, Journey through the Wilderness.

As another nominating letter put it, "Perhaps the best way to describe the inspiration that Rabbi Yael Levy brings to those who have studied prayed, worshipped and meditated with her over the years is the name of the Jewish Mindfulness program that she created: A Way In.

Rabbi Yael’s teachings have offered “a way in” to a Judaism that, while using the language of Jewish tradition, addresses the universal issues with which we all struggle: how to embrace fully the joy and delight of living; how to be present to the difficulties, pain, even grief, that we experience; how to show up for each other; and how to act in the world for blessing."

Yasher koach to Rabbi Yael for this well-deserved recognition of her work.

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