A day of learning, prayer and music is coming to Congregation Beth Tefillah on Feb. 16. The Soul Conference, organized in partnership with the Aleph Society, is dedicated to helping attendees realize their soul’s potential.
“The vision is for all attendees to understand and connect to their divine soul — its inner makings, its desires, its calling,” said Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah. “Just as we need to maintain a healthy body, we too need to maintain a healthy soul. By attending to it, and all that it wishes to fulfill, we will ensure the health of our soul, and live fulfilled and purposeful lives.”
Learning sessions at the conference will cover topics such as free will, good and evil inclinations, death and reincarnation, tzaddikim and the connection between body and soul.
The program will begin on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. with a cocktail hour, heavy hors d’oeuvres and the first of five learning sessions, and resume at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 17. The second day will be broken up into learning sessions, textual learning and remarks by guest speakers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a musical performance by Jeryko, are included.
The event “was envisioned by my dear mentor, world-scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz and his New York-based Aleph Society and Jerusalem-based Steinsaltz Center, and it was inspired by his book ‘The Soul,’” Allouche explained.
Speakers for the conference include Allouche; Rabbi Simon Jacobson, author of “Toward a Meaningful Life” and head of The Meaningful Life Center; Rabbi Meni Even-Israel, executive director of the Steinsaltz Center; Arthur Kurzweil, author of “On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz”; and Rabbanit Rachelle Fraenkel, director of hilkhata at the Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies.
In the introductory letter for the Soul Conference, to be published in a booklet for attendees, Allouche turns to the question of whether people can really change. The most common answer, he observes, is no: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” as the American idiom goes, or in the words of Jeremiah 13:23, “Can the leopard change his spots?”
“Judaism’s take is refreshingly different,” Allouche writes. “Indeed, Judaism believes that human beings are fundamentally good. We all possess a Divine soul. We are all born pure. In the history of mankind, we have yet to find an evil baby. Therefore, instead of striving to change ourselves, all that is needed is that we become ourselves and heed the calling of our soul to actualize our unique, G-d given skills and talents, and serve as G-d’s agents of goodness and kindness in this world.”
Allouche hopes this will just one of many soul conferences where participants can learn and grow.
“We hope to continue to host this conference on an annual basis, with a world-class lineup of speakers each year, such as the ones we are so privileged to host for this year,” Allouche said. JN