Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute offers multi-year training in Hebrew priestessing.  This leadership training is an immersion in the movement and the sisterhood that is Kohenet. Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, founded in 2005 by Rabbi Jill Hammer and Taya Shere, has trained and ordained women as Kohanot ~ Hebrew Priestesses ~ for the past decade.

The Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute offers a two-tier training program.  The first four retreats, over the course of a year and a half, train students in ritual skills based on thirteen archetypes of the ancient Hebrew priestesses: the Weaver, the Maiden, the Midwife, the Prophetess, the Mother, the Wise Woman, the Shrinekeeper, the Queen, the Mourning Woman, the Shamaness, the Seeker, the Lover, and the Fool.  We use these priestess paths, in addition to resources of Jewish tradition, to discover ritual roles to play and ritual spaces to build.  

The second level of the program consists of three retreats over the course of a year and a half.  During this advanced year, our students focus on lifecycle ritual and advanced ritual skills, as well as on developing their unique mission statement and skill set for the specific sacred work they want to do in the world.  Upon the completion of the second level of the program, most students request to be ordained.

"I have learned through my work in Kohenet to honor the mundane as sacred. I have learned to trust in the Divine as a source of wisdom, guidance, healing, and love in the face of personal and global change and challenge." - Rinah Rachel Galper

The Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute seeks to revive and re-embody Judaism through the gifts of women spiritual leaders.  Since 2006, we have ordained over fifty Kohanot, Hebrew priestesses.  Some of our students are rabbis and teachers in Jewish community.  Some were distant from Jewish practice until they came to the Kohenet Institute. They now serve in a variety of leadership roles, facilitating transformative ritual for women’s and mixed-gender communities.  The lively and diverse Kohenet community supports on-going communal education and ritual for our alums.  

East Coast Training

West Coast Training

Our current East cohort Zayin (#7), began in summer 2016 and is a circle including scholars, activists, ritualists, teachers, artists, and land stewards. 

We are now accepting applications for cohort Tet (#9) to begin training in late June 2018.

We gather for week-long intensives each winter and summer - totaling 7 intensives over 3 years - with options for active online community, course-work, and conference calls. 

Kohenet training on the East Coast is held at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT, in the Berkshire mountains 2.5 hours from New York City.

Current costs for Kohenet training at Isabella Freedman is between $1380 and $1980 per retreat week (including tuition, room & board depending on accommodation chosen). Registration for Kohenet East happens through the Isabella Freedman website, after receiving acceptance into the training. 

Apply now!

Our current West coast cohorts, Vav (#6, which began in 2015) and Chet (#8, which began in 2017) are stellar circles of ritualists, visionary artists, activists, teachers and healers.  We anticipate our next new west coast training cohort to begin in early 2019.  Check for updates here or subscribe to our e-letter.

We gather for week-long intensives each winter (January / February) and summer (July / August)  - totaling 7 intensives over 3 years - with options for active online community, course-work, and conference calls. 

Costs for Kohenet west training is between $1350 and $1500 per retreat week ($600 - 750 room and board & $750 tuition per retreat week).

The Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute facilitates the creation of transformative Jewish ritual that is embodied, earth-based, feminist, and inspired by traditions of women’s spiritual leadership. Our curriculum is designed to train women in ritual-making and prayer that is grounded in Judaism, in the earth and the body, and in teachings of the divine feminine.

Our program has two stages: initiation and ordination

 

initiation: Netivot - Pathways

In this stage, participants learn intensively about the priestess paths: the ways that Jewish women have met the sacred in generations past, and the ways we can meet the sacred in the present.  Participants also learn basic components of ritual, and also how to pray and celebrate, using the Kohenet siddur, in an earth-based, embodied, divine-feminine-centered mode. Completion of this stage of the program, if requirements are met, leads to initiation: a ritual discovering Shekhinah/Sacred Spirit in yourself and in your sisters.  This stage is 4 retreats.  Retreats occur approximately every 6 months. 

 

Ordination: Kedeishot - Celebrating Holy Rites

In this stage, participants learn intensively about the facilitation of lifecycle ritual, hone their ritual and prayer skills as Hebrew priestesses, and discern their unique priestess work. Completion of this stage of the program, if requirements are met, leads to ordination/smicha: a ritual dedicating each graduate to working with Shekhinah/Sacred Spirit in the larger community.  This stage is 3 retreats.  Retreats occur approximately every 6 months.

 

In each stage, our classes fall into four elemental categories

 

Earth

Sacred Time and Space Earth sessions focus on the making of ritual and on crucial ritual components and skills. Earth sessions may also focus on calendrical or other important information related to ritual-making.

 

Water

Priestess Flow In these sessions, we learn priestess tools for use in cultivating our own consciousness and for working with communities. Through discovering tools like dreamwork, herbal healing, or we find the best tools to serve our own priestess callings.

 

Wind

Paths of Spirit These text and experience-based classes focus on embodying the priestess archetypes, such as Wise Woman, Maiden, Weaver, Seeker, Prophetess, etc. In these classes, we learn the different faces and aspects of priestesses, sacred women, and the divine feminine.

 

Fire

Prayer and Spirit Journey These classes and sessions focus on connecting to spirit. As tools, we use words from our tradition, words we create, chant, and meditation/spirit journey. We discover how to awaken our own sacred connection and facilitate the sacred connection of others.

 

Initiation Program: Netivot - Pathways

In this stage, participants learn intensively about the priestess paths: the ways that Jewish women have met the sacred in generations past, and the ways we can meet the sacred in the present.  Participants also learn basic components of ritual, and also how to pray and celebrate, using Siddur HaKohanot, in an earth-based, embodied, divine-feminine-centered mode. Completion of this stage of the program, if requirements are met, leads to initiation: a ritual discovering Shekhinah/Sacred Spirit in yourself and in your sisters.  This stage is 4 retreats, occurring approximately every 6 months. 


Retreat 1

Shrinekeeper, Prophetess, Midwife

Women, Holy Space, and Holy Time (Wind); Ritualcraft I: The Touchstones of Ritual (Earth); Altar Practice: The Ancient World and Today (Earth); Prophetess-Priestesses: Women and Holy Vision (Wind) Hebrew Priestess Dreamwork (Water); Hebrew Priestess Drumwork (Water); Chant and Prophecy (Fire); Midwife-Priestesses: Women and Holy Birthing (Wind); Prayercraft I: Midwiving Prayer (Fire); *Jewish Ecology (Earth); *Cervical Activism (Water); *Blessings in the Mishnah (Earth); *Miriam’s Drum/Miriam’s Dream (Wind); *Labyrinth Work (Water); *Priestess Tools (Water); *Priestess Language: Important Hebrew Terms (Fire); *Midwiving Self and Others (Water); *Midwife Imagery in Jewish Tradition (Wind); *The Mishkan and Jewish Sacred Space (Earth) (asterisk indicates the course may be offered depending on the year)


Retreat 2

Weaver, Lover, Queen

Prayercraft II: The Structure of Jewish Prayer (Fire); Ritualcraft II: Naming Liminal Moments (Earth); Wheel of the Year (Earth); Weaver-Priestesses: Sacred Weaving across the Generations (Wind); Mystical Love in Jewish Sources (Wind) Sexual Expression as Prayer (Water); Queen-Priestesses: Biblical Queen Mothers and Mother Goddesses (Wind); The Priestess as Guardian (Water); Ritual Practicum (Earth); *Activist Priestessing (Water); *Priestess Parnassah (Water); *Ritually Sealing Sacred Space (Earth); *Sacred Clothing in the Mishnah (Water); * Tallit as Divine Veil (Fire); *Names of the Divine Queen (Wind); *Presencing the Priestess Body: Food, Sex, and Healing (Earth); *Parashat haShavua as a Priestess Practice (Water); *Aryevut: Being a Lover of All Beings (Water)


Retreat 3

Shamaness, Seeker, Wise Woman, Fool

Prayercraft III: Sinai Pilgrimage: The Torah Service (Fire); Ritualcraft III: The Four Elements (Earth); Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Shamans and Witches (Wind); Priestess Divination (Water); Priestess Spirit Journey (Water); Priestess Pilgrimage (Water); Lady Wisdom: The Book of Proverbs (Wind); Wise Women: Priestesses as Peacemakers (Wind); Exploring Initiation with the Wise Woman (Water); Sacred Clown Workshop (Water); *Women Monastics and Pilgrims (Wind); *Wheel of the Year (Earth); *Herbal Healing (Water); *Healing Ritual (Earth); *Movement as Prayer (Fire); *Jethro the Shaman (Earth); *Mishnah Study: Holy Clothing (Earth); *Priestess Peacemaking (Water); *Jewish Magic (Water); *Rachel the Thief (Wind); *The Green Energy of Priestessing (Water)


Retreat 4

Maiden, Mother, Mourning Woman

Ritualcraft IV: God/dess Language (Earth); Prayercraft IV: Sh’mantra (Fire); Biblical Girls, Maiden Festivals (Wind); The Divine Daughter: Shekhinah as Maiden (Wind); Maiden Initiations: Finding Our Own Mythic Patterns (Fire); Conscious Menstruation (Water); Mystical Teachings on the Divine Mother (Wind); Motherline Healing (Water); Mourning Women in Israelite-Jewish History (Wind); Naming our Hidden Selves (Earth); *Initiation Herstory (Earth); *Mishnah Study: Mourning Women (Wind); *The Book of Lamentations (Wind); *Inanna, Persephone, Ruth, Esther: Underworld Initiations (Earth); *Spirits in the Wires: Technologies of a 21st Century Priestess Water); *Writing Blessings (Fire); *Priestess Publicity (Water); *Naming New Archetypes (Water)


Ordination Program: Kedeishot - Celebrating Holy Rites

In this stage, participants learn intensively about the facilitation of lifecycle ritual, hone their ritual and prayer skills as Hebrew priestesses, and discern their unique priestess work. Completion of this stage of the program, if requirements are met, leads to ordination/smicha: a ritual dedicating each graduate to working with Shekhinah/Sacred Spirit in the larger community.  This stage is 3 retreats.  Retreats occur approximately every 6 months.


Retreat 5

RITUAL MIDWIVES

Ritualcraft V: Ritual Theory and Practice (Earth); The Jewish Life-Spiral (Earth); Birth Ritual (Earth); Naming Ritual (Earth); Coming of Age Ritual (Earth); Prayercraft V: Deepening Our Relationship to Kohenet Prayer (Fire); Equinoxes and Solstices (Earth); *Circumcision (Earth); *Weaving Sacred Conversations: Listening as Prayer (Water); *Circumcision: Blood Ritual and Birth (Earth); *Tziporah and the Flint Knife: Priestesses and Circumcision (Wind); *Gerut: Conversion as Birth (Earth)


Retreat 6

RITUAL WEAVERS

Ritualcraft VI: Identifying Mid-Life Passages (Earth). Weddings 101 (Earth); Creative Partnership Ritual (Earth); Simchat Chochmah: Honoring our Elders (Earth); House-Blessings (Earth); New Moons (Earth)


Retreat 7

RITUAL MOURNING WOMEN

 Ritualcraft VII: Assigning Ritual Roles (Earth): Funerals 101 (Earth); Chevra Kadisha: Priestesses of the Underworld (Earth); Views of the Soul in Jewish Tradition (Wind); Return to the Earth: Conscious Dying (Earth); Rituals for Moving On (Earth); Creating Kavvanot (Fire)

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"Studying the archetypes and understanding women’s roles in Judaism, including in Temple times, reconnected me with something that was missing from all prior experiences I had had with Jewish education." - Ellie Barbarash

Netivah (plural netivot) is a Hebrew word for path or way of being.  In the book of Proverbs, we hear of Wisdom that "all her ways are pleasant, and all her paths (netivot) are peace." We use this word to refer to priestess paths: archetypes or ways of being that embody a particular form of the sacred feminine.  Priestesses-in-training engage thirteen netivot of the Shekhinah. 

 

Na'Arah: the Maiden

The Maiden is the archetype of presence, embodiment, action, dance, joy, and fellowship. The Maiden appears as Rebekah, the zealous and kind girl who draws water for a stranger and his camels, and as Miriam, who watches over a basket on the Nile. She appears as the maidens who dance at the sacred shrine of Shiloh to celebrate the harvest. And she appears as a servant of Wisdom, going out into the streets to find those who seek the Shekhinah. She is the daughters of Tzelafchad, who dare to bring their case before Moses and ask for an inheritance of land. She brings the gifts of passion, commitment, and courage. 

 

Eim: The Mother

The Mother embodies love and sustenance. The Mother appears as Leah, the abundantly fertile matriarch, Hagar, who searches for water for her son, and as Yocheved, who hides her child from Pharaoh. She appears as Batya, who has compassion on a child not hers, and as Hannah, who prays to give birth. She is Naamah, Noah’s wife, who shepherds animals and people onto the Ark. She appears in the manna that falls on Israel and in the sea that parts to free the people from Egypt. She is the Immah Ila’ah, the Divine Mother of the world. She brings gifts of love, compassion, care, and nurturing.

 

Gevirah: The Queen

Gevirah means lady, queen mother, or woman warrior. The gevirah is the embodiment of strength and power, and guardianship of individuals and societies. She appears as Sarah, who bears a child at ninety and fights for his inheritance. She comes to us as the Queen of Sheba, who tells riddles to King Solomon, and as the queen mother Maacah, who honors the Goddess in spite of a state law to the contrary. She is Esther, who uses her royal authority to save her people, and Vashti, who refuses a cruel king’s request. She also appears as Judith and Yael, warrior women who fight for their people. She calls forth the gift of leadership and fierceness.  The Book of Proverbs says of her: “Strength and glory are her clothing, and she laughs on the last day.”

 

Meyaledet: The Midwife

Meyaledet means “she who brings to birth.” The midwife is the one who aids in the birthing process. We find her in Shifrah and Puah, the midwives of Egypt who saved the Hebrew children, and in the midwives who helped Rachel and Tamar to deliver. We also find her in the Holy One who led Israel through the birth canal of the sea. She is also the teacher, the ally, and the friend.  Her gifts are midwifery, gardening, healing, mentoring, and creating new projects of any type. She is linked to growth, trees, animals, and everything that springs from the earth.

 

Chachamah: The Wise Woman

The chachamah, the female sage, is a guide through human existence. She embodies understanding, wisdom, initiation, and the power to resolve conflicts. She appears in the wise women who spin the wool for the Tabernacle, and in the wise woman of Tekoa who advises David. She is Serach, the granddaughter of Jacob, who holds all the secrets of the Israelite tribes and tells Moses where Joseph is buried. And she is Wisdom herself.  The Wise Woman brings the gifts of teaching, memory, peacemaking, storytelling, and wisdom of all kinds. We are told in the Book of Proverbs: “The wise woman builds her house.”

 

Mekonenet: The Mourning Woman

Jeremiah, as he mourns for his exiled people, asks that the mourning women be called to come and weep. The word mekonenet means “one who laments” but can also mean “one who makes a nest.” The mekonenet embodies the pain and truth of change. She appears as Rachel weeping for her exiled children, as the wife of Pinchas, who dies in childbirth, and as the grieving Mother Zion. She also appears in Ezekiel as the women weeping for Tammuz. She brings the gifts of comforting the bereaved, burying the dead, healing the mourners, and facing cataclysmic change. 

 

Neviah: The Prophetess

The neviah brings with her inspiration, prophecy, and ecstatic experience. She appears in Miriam the prophet, who dances and drums by the shore of the Sea of Reeds, and in Deborah, the woman who leads the people and sings of her victories. She is in the levitical drummers who danced in Temple processions. She is also committed to justice and right action.  Her gifts are music, drumming, poetry, dreaming, ecstatic practice, visioning, and the ability to speak out and be heard. She seeks truth on behalf of her people.

 

Tzovah: The Temple Keeper

The tzovah, or “one of many hosts of women,” once served at the entrance to the mishkan. In the Torah, we learn that the priests used the mirrors of the tzovot to make the priestly basin for handwashing. The tzovot are associated with water, with divination , with sexuality, and with the affirmation of the self. In midrash, they are the Hebrew slave women in Egypt who seduce their tired husbands with games and mirrors. We see the archetype of the tzovah in Eve, who chooses the fruit of knowledge, and Lilith, who flies away from Eden. We also find her in Ruth, the stranger who lies down with her lover on a threshing floor. We know her in the women who bake bread and pour out wine for the Queen of Heaven. The tzovah embodies the life-spirit. Her gifts are self-awareness, sensuality, the keeping of the body and the keeping of sacred space, and the performance of ritual and ceremony. She brings the sacred into earthly reality.

 

Ba’alat Ov: The Shamaness

To be a ba’alat ov, or the keeper of a spirit, was a forbidden practice in ancient Israel. Yet in the Bible, the Witch of Endor, a ba’alat ov, raises Samuel from the dead so that he may speak to King Saul. The ba’alat ov embodies our connection to our ancestors, our ability to journey to the other world, and our power to heal and to shift reality. We see her in the enchantresses and sorceresses the prophets condemn, and in the mother of Abaye, a Talmudic woman who is an amulet-maker and charmer. Her gifts are healing, spirit awakening and inner sight.  

 

Doreshet: The Seeker

The Seeker is the eternal pilgrim.  Her task is to move from her fixed place so that she may learn. In Genesis, we learn that Rebekah the matriarch goes to seek the Divine Presence so that she may learn why her pregnancy is so painful. The Seeker is a questioner, always asking anew why things are the way they are. She is also the interpreter and scholar, finding new ways to understand truth.  The Seeker is a listener, desiring to hear the truth of others. Her gifts are questioning and listening, traveling, intellectual inquiry, pilgrimage, and dialogue work of all kinds. 

 

Ohevet: The Lover

The woman of the Song of Songs calls out to her beloved out of deep passion and a desire to share of herself: “Let us go out to the fields!” The Lover, like the Shulammite of the Bible, reaches toward another with desire and knowing, giving both body and soul. She is innocent and wise. Her beloved may be a human being, a song, a world, the Divine, her own soul. She is grounded in her experience, yet also a priestess who embodies the cosmic love of the universe. Her gifts are openness, willingness, connection, and surrender. 

 

Leitzanit : The Fool

When Sarah is told she will become pregnant at the age of ninety, she lets out a laugh so resonant that the Holy One takes note of it. Sarah’s laugh contains joy and heartbreak, anger and relief. So too, the fool, jester, or sacred clown uses laughter to help us confront life’s difficult truths. She makes fun of accepted truths and says what no one else dares to say.  She dances at weddings, reminding us of death; and at painful times her humor keeps us going.  Her gifts are laughter, cleverness, fearlessness, and perfect honesty. 

 

Oreget: The Weaver

The Weaver weaves in the Temple to honor the Divine feminine. What she weaves are batim or “houses”—tapestries, garments, or maybe worlds. Like the Fates, the oreget weaves space, time, and soul together. She embodies the connectedness of all things. It is she who integrates and connects the many threads of the world. We see her in the women who spun the goats’ hair for the Tabernacle. Her gifts are the weaving of legends, interpretations, rituals and traditions, as well as weaving, sewing, writing, and all the creative arts. She watches over all activities that bring disparate elements together.