Dear friends, Thank you for taking a moment to show your support for the music and for the unique form of Bay Area Judaism that you have enjoyed over the years. Torah of Awakening Bay Area community programming such as musical Shabbat services (Shabliss!), meditation groups, havurah gatherings and High Holy Days services are dependent on your generous contributions and donations, as membership contributions fund only a portion of our expenses.
(Membership is also important, so if you are not yet a member, you can join here.)
Presently, we are able to receive tax deductible donations of $600 and up. For smaller than $600, we welcome your non-tax deductible contribution for Bay Area programming. Thank you so much for your support!
Here are ways you can support:
Buys Kosher Grape Juice or wine for 1 Shabbliss!
Buys batteries for music stand lights for one Shabliss!
Sponsors an Oneg
Pays for storage containers to hold our supplies
Helps us hire a bookkeeper
Buys lighting for our outdoor potluck
Sponsors the creation of 60 more Siddurim
Helps us record audio for the High Holidays CD
Sponsors a small gathering
Rents space and assistance for 1 Shabliss!
All contributions are greatly appreciated!
Make a non-tax deductible contribution of less than $600 HERE.
For tax deductible donations of $600 or more, please fill out the form below and we'll be in touch about how you can donate:
Torah of Awakening Bay Area History and Vision
Torah of Awakening is an international spiritual practice community, dedicated to actualizing our spiritual potential for joy, inner freedom and realization of the Divine. Based on the transformational, Jewish-based teachings of Reb Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks, Torah of Awakening seeks to help participants live awakened lives through the practice of Jewish meditation.
Torah of Awakening Bay Area (ToA Bay Area) is the Berkeley/Oakland California chapter of Torah of Awakening. This chapter features: musical Shabbat and High Holy Day services with Reb Brian Yosef and his band BRIAH, Iyún Ayin Jewish Meditation gatherings and retreats, as well as other gatherings through the Havurahand collaborative events with other Bay Area Jewish communities.
The origins of this this community began with the musical Shabbat gatherings of friends in the late 1990s, which took place at Brian’s house in South Berkeley. In 1999, Brian was asked by Dr. Avram Davis, founder of Jewish Meditation center Chochmat HaLev (CHL), to bring his band to CHL and help create a musical service there. Over the years, a community grew around those celebratory musical services.
In 2006, Avram asked Brian to take over his Monday night meditation group. Brian began calling those Monday night gatherings Torah of Awakening, and soon after created the Torah of Awakening website and began posting Jewish teachings on the awakening process.
In 2015, Reb Brian began teaching courses online. In 2016, he founded the Torah of Awakening online community, through which members could access weekly teachings, videos, and audio recordings. Later that year, Reb Brian moved to Tucson, Arizona with his family. However, with the help and support of the meditation and Shabbat community that grew over the years, Reb Brian continued to commute regularly back to the Bay Area to lead Shabbat services and meditation workshops at different venues.
In 2017, Brian began collaborating with Dr. Laura Rifkin, who brought a rich background of organizational development, facilitation, directing, teaching skills, and a PhD in Integral Studies. Laura was drawn to Torah of Awakening and soon became the founding director of ToA Bay Area. Together, Brian and Laura established the first High Holidays with Torah of Awakening and Urban Adamah. In Tucson, Reb Brian began regular weekly meditation gatherings at Congregation Bet Shalom, which are livestreamed to Torah of Awakening members internationally. In 2018, the weekly meditation gatherings found a new Bay Area home at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley.
Torah of Awakening Bay Area has continued to grow as a contemplative and ecstatic practice community for Jewish spirituality. From 2017 – 2019, under Laura’s visionary leadership, ToA Bay Area accomplishments include: the recording production of Reb Brian’s original Shabbat music CD with BRIAH, numerous Shabbat and Havdallah community gatherings, two years of High Holidays on the Farm with Urban Adamah, launch of a year-long adult cohort meditation program, a Bay Area B’nai Mitzvah program, the development of Shabbat in the House with other spiritual teachers, and the launch of Iyún Ayin meditation gatherings at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley.
Ahavurahis also forming that will focus on bringing other types of gatherings to the ToA Bay community. This group is organizing a directory/skills bank, a committee that works on fundraising, and a wide variety of Bay members who offer advisory and financial support.
Jewish life is a diverse tapestry of many elements, including issues of Jewish identity, pastoral and life cycle needs, prayer and holidays, Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), and more. Many synagogues and Jewish organizations attempt to serve the diversity of their communities by addressing many of these issues and needs.
Torah of Awakening is unique in the Jewish world, in that its primary purpose is to help people awaken – to become free from negativity, to live in deep connection with the aliveness of the present moment, and to be embodiments of joy and presence. To accomplish this, Torah of Awakening programs are currently offered in collaboration with other Jewish organizations in Tucson, Phoenix, New York, Miami and Berkeley. In this way, we are creating a synergistic mutuality between communities and a positive momentum toward transformation.
Torah of Awakening envisions operating in a concentric circle model. Torah of Awakening members who meditate, learn, and celebrate together form the innermost circle. Surrounding circles are comprised of other Jewish organizations, synagogues, Arab/Sufi circles, Buddhist circles, and practitioners of other paths. Toward that end, Torah of Awakening is currently pursuing multiple partnerships with different organizations including Urban Adamah, Netivot Shalom, and Ibrahim Baba’s legacy project, “Faith Voices.” Reb Brian is excited to develop and expand these Bay Area collaborations for years to come, and he is grateful to the Bay Area community for all their energy and support in ensuring that Torah of Awakening maintains a home with its Bay Area roots – Todah Raba!
Note from TOA Bay Community Leader Laura Rifkin:
Here are our accomplishments this past year:
We produced the beautiful CD, “Ayn Od, music for Shabbat.”
We hosted numerous events: Havdallah gatherings, Shabbatons
We had our second successful High Holidays on the Farm in collaboration with Urban Adamah.
We strengthened our infrastructure.
Reb Brian and I led our first cohort of year-long learning in the Bay Area.
Brian launched a number of online classes and a B’nai Mitzvah program.
We co-sponsored public programs with Urban Adamah, Netivot Shalom, JeWitches, and Wilderness Torah.
The future promises to be very exciting:
We are in the process of planning seven Shabbatons with Reb Brian and BRIAH
We will hold two intimate “Shabbats in the House” for ToA members led by Jeannette Ferber, Gary Lapow, Ahbi Vernon, Bruce Silverman, and guest teachers.
We have ideas for a member-led book club, Shabbat dinners, regular get-togethers, information sessions on how to access ToA member benefits, continued spiritual learning in community and so much more!
We hope to produce our 2nd CD of High Holiday music (recorded live!).
We will expand and nurture our relationships with Urban Adamah, Netivot Shalom, and other partners.
We will be co-hosting our THIRD ANNUAL ToA High Holidays with Urban Adamah!
We need all of your support to make Torah of Awakening in the Bay happen! Please consider making a year-end donation to help fund our programs. Donations over $600 will be tax-deductible. (Scroll Up to make donations)