TorahTrek Guides Track
***COHORT 5 UPDATES***
Current Registration: 8
Places Remaining: 2
The TorahTrek Guides Track is designed for those who feel called to Judaism, wilderness and spirituality as a Jewish educator or as an important part of their Jewish practice. The program offers participants the personal experience and skills to bring spiritual, nature programs to their community's synagogues, organizations, schools, and camps. Eight to twelve TorahTrek Guides—Jewish spiritual educators at home in the natural world—graduate per cohort.
Successful spiritual, nature educators must have deep spiritual experience in nature and a basic knowledge of Judaism and ecology. The training consists of two seven-day retreats, a third ten-day retreat (including a three-day solo in wilderness) and regular study between retreats over the academic year.
Cohort 5 begins in August, 2015 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, continues in December in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, California, and concludes in California's Sierra Nevada mountains in May, 2015. Cohort 5 is designed to accommodate students and others tied to the academic year, but it is open to all comers.
Cohort 5 will begin in August, 2015.
Retreat 1 - August 11-18, 2015, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Retreat 2 - December 20-27, 2015, Joshua Tree, California
Retreat 3 - May 26-June 5, 2016, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Application deadline for Cohort 5:
- Early registration deadline: May 10
- Regular registration deadline: June 15
- Late Registration deadline: July 30
To insure your place, we recommend that you apply as early as possible.
Deep Immersion in Wilderness
Taught by Rabbi Mike Comins, the retreats are devoted to learning Jewish spiritual practices in wilderness. The practice of hitbodedut—spending time alone for spiritual purpose—gradually increases, culminating in a three-day wilderness solo at the last retreat.
Following the program outlined in Rabbi Comins' A Wild Faith, students immerse themselves in the greatest of spiritual classrooms, the wilderness, and take time to explore and develop their relationship to God, Torah and Mitzvot. In our multi-tasking lives, to actually receive the time and space to nurture one's spirit is in and of itself an incredible gift. To do so in wilderness, with a fellowship of committed seekers and the help of a proven methodology for spiritual growth, makes the TorahTrek Guides Track an experience as unique as it is powerful.
Young Jews in particular know when their teachers of prayer and other spiritual topics are inauthentic. The Guides Track enables participants to "walk their talk" as religious, Jewish leaders.
Between retreats, participants maintain the community and study with Rabbi Comins and Rabbi Natan Margalit, PhD, via on-demand video once every two weeks. Rabbi Margalit teaches "eco-Torah," covering the basic concepts and texts that Jewish environmental educators need to know. Rabbi Comins presents an eclectic range of subjects—drawing on Jewish texts, Judaica scholarship, contemporary philosophy and nature writing—to ground the spiritual practices he teaches on the retreats.
Students process their learning by completing online written assignments and discussing the material in a monthly conference call.
TorahTrek Guides - What They Are and What They Aren't
TorahTrek Guides are certified as having fulfilled all requirements and successfully completed their training in Jewish spiritual practice in nature. They have learned classic and contemporary Jewish texts, explored a wide range of theological and philosophic topics on the intersections between Judaism, spirituality and the natural world, developed skills in spiritual practice, developed leadership skills, and learned cutting-edge techniques in spiritual and experiential education. While they are uniquely qualified to teach in wilderness and other natural settings, their skills, knowledge, and experience increase their effectiveness in all educational environments.
TorahTrek certifies Guides as teachers of Judaism and Jewish spirituality in nature and other settings. TorahTrek Guides are spiritual guides, trained in Jewish spiritual practice and Jewish education. TorahTrek does not certify participants' outdoor skills and competence in leading groups in wilderness. While the program tends to draw people with extensive backcountry experience and wilderness certifications of various kinds, the Guides Track does not offer training in the teaching of wilderness skills, leading groups on overnight backcountry programs, or emergency medicine. TorahTrek Guides are informed of the risks and requirements of leading outdoor programming in different settings. Many are qualified to lead backcountry programs. Others lead backcountry programs with an outfitter or other qualified wilderness guide. It is the responsibility of each Guide and those who employ them to check their qualifications for particular programs on a case-by-case basis.