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The Rabbi Samuel Chiel (zt”l) Genesis Forum

The Blessings of Life: Jewish Spirituality from the Talmud to Today

All sessions held Wednesdays, 12:00 to 1:15 p.m.
CJP, 126 High Street, 9th Floor, Boston

Join us as we celebrate 18 years of lunchtime learning! We’ll study the Talmudic Tractate Berakhot (Blessings) and follow the Jewish spiritual journey from its founding Talmudic debates through to the varieties of religious experience and contemporary worship. We will explore questions of belief through the study of the Shema, clarify personal and communal needs through considering the petitions of the Amida (standing prayer), and cultivate an attitude of gratitude through the rabbis’ consideration of blessings before and after eating. Our conversations will invite contemplation of our own spiritual aspirations to appreciate and actualize the blessings of life.

Photocopies of the texts we study will be provided.  Beverages are available.

Click here to read about the Genesis Forum faculty.

This event is free and open to the public, and you are welcome to attend any or all sessions. Pre-registration is required here. (You only need to register once and it covers all sessions.)

For more information or special accommodations, please contact or call 617-457-8789.

Miss a week? Click here to view handouts, or to download select Genesis Forum podcasts!

In case of inclement weather, please call 617-457-8888 or visit for event updates.

CJP welcomes the participation of interfaith couples and families, and people of all abilities, backgrounds and sexual orientations.

2013-2014 Schedule of Topics and Instructors


Chapter 1

The Shema: Unification at the Beginnings and Endings of Our Days
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels


Liminality and Spirituality: Prayer Times, Personal Transitions and Transformations
Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor


Chapter 2

Spiritual Focus: Clarifying Values Through Exceptions, Exemptions and Interruptions
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels


Chapter 3

Darkness at Noon: Death and the Dislocation of Spiritual Practice
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels


Chapter 4

The Amida: Standing on the Building Blocks of Blessings
Rabbi Dr. Ruth Langer


Chapter 5

Communing with the Divine/Communicating with the Self: Preparation, Presence and Prayer
Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor


Structure and Spontaneity: Fixed Prayers and Free Thinkers
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels -Rescheduled from 02/05/14


Chapter 6

Specificity and Spirituality: A Cornucopia of Blessings on Food
Rabbi Dr. Jane Kanarek


Finding Grace After Meals: The Meaning and Purpose of Birkat HaMazon
Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor


Chapter 7

God and Good Company: Expansive Community and the Expanding God
Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor


Chapter 8

A House United By Division: The Debates of Shammai and Hillel
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann


Chapter 9

Visions of Blessing: Spiritual Responses to Awesome Sights
Rabbi Benjmain Samuels


Morning Glories: Affirmations Upon Waking
Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Mirsky


Siyyum: For Better and Worse: Blessing Good and Evil

In Memoriam of Rabbi Samuel Chiel (zt”l)

הרב שמואל בן שלמה ופרימט זצ"ל

We dedicate this year’s Genesis Forum to the blessed memory of Rabbi Samuel Chiel. Rabbi Chiel was CJP’s scholar-in-residence for many years and was instrumental in founding the Genesis Forum.

Rabbi Chiel leaves a glorious legacy of communal service and teaching. At the beginning of his rabbinical career, he also proudly served his country as a Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces. He went on to become the beloved spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel of Newton for 27 years. 

He never stopped learning and teaching, and was involved in the training of young rabbis and the continuing education of mid-career rabbis through the Rabbinic Institute at Hebrew College, as well as serving as the Jewish scholar for New Directions in Catholic-Jewish Dialogue, an interfaith program co-sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the Archdiocese of Greater Boston.

Rabbi Chiel was renowned for his unique combination of erudition, insight, empathy and warmth. He was a master speaker and teacher of Torah, as well as a great believer in and advocate for the elevating and healing powers of spiritual practice. Through our study of the Talmudic Tractate of Blessings, we hope to memorialize Rabbi Chiel for eternal blessing.