Staff

Mike Comins

Founder | Author

Rabbi Mike Comins is the Founder of TorahTrek.  He grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) with a BA in Near Eastern Studies, and served as regional advisor for the Southern California Federation of Temple Youth and Rosh Eida at UAHC Camp Swig before making aliyah (moving to Israel) at age 26. While guiding Jerusalem for American youth and serving as chairperson of Netzer Olami (the International Reform-Zionist Youth Movement), Mike studied classical Jewish texts for four years at Machon Pardes, a yeshiva in Jerusalem. In 1996, he was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Israeli Rabbinical Program. Exploring his lifelong interest in philosophy and theology, Rabbi Comins’ rabbinic thesis, Borowitz and Beyond: Towards a Hermeneutic Account of I-thou Encounter, received a score of 97 from referee Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr. He holds an MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew University, and worked for five years as education director of Kehilat Kol HaNeshama, a Jerusalem congregation he helped to establish. Upon ordination, Mike earned his license as an Israeli desert guide. He founded “Ruach HaMidbar Desert Trips and Retreats,” leading many trekkers, often rabbis, rabbinical students and students for the ministry, on spiritual journeys through Israel’s deserts and the Sinai mountains.

Returning to the U.S. in 1998, Rabbi Comins spent his first years back in North America on an extended spiritual sabbatical. He participated in several two-year institutes for rabbis: the Mindfulness Leadership Training program at Elat Chayyim with Sylvia Boorstein, and the Metivta Spirituality Institute, with Boorstein, Arthur Green and Jonathan Omer-Man. He participated in four- and six-week silent meditation retreats at the Spirit Rock meditation center under the tutelage of Boorstein and Jack Kornfield. To date, he has completed five solo wilderness retreats (four days of meditation, prayer and fasting in a small circle, generally known as a Vision Quest) under the guidance of different teachers, notably John Milton of Sacred Passage.

He founded TorahTrek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures in 2001 while serving the Jackson Hole Chaverim in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for three years.  The community’s first resident rabbi, Mike helped the Jackson Jewish community establish itself while developing TorahTrek into a nationally recognized program.

Currently, Rabbi Comins lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jody Porter.  He continues to grow TorahTrek, and devotes himself to writing and teaching. A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism (Jewish Lights Publishing; AWildFaith) appeared in 2007 and his second book, Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do about It  (Jewish Lights Publishing; MakingPrayerReal) was published in 2010.  Rabbi Comins also contributes to various books and periodicals.

Rabbi Natan Margalit

Teacher

Rabbi Natan Margalit was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, studied anthropology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, made aliyah, and studied for many years in Israeli yeshivot. He received rabbinic ordination at The Jerusalem Seminary in 1990 and earned a Ph.D. in Talmud from U.C. Berkeley in 2001. He has held teaching positions at Bard College, the Recontructionist Rabbinical College and the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Boston.

Rabbi Margalit is the founder of Organic Torah (www.OrganicTorah.org), an important and unique voice in the world of Jewish ideas. He has written and taught for many years on Judaism and the environment, innovative approaches to Jewish texts, Jewish spirituality, and gender and Judaism. He lives in Newton, Massachustts with his wife Ilana and sons, Nadav and Eiden.