LGBTQ South Florida

‘What Is Spiritual Health?’ the topic of Sunday workshop at Temple Israel of Greater Miami

Rabbi Tom Heyn leads the Rosh Hashana service at Temple Israel of Greater Miami in September 2014.
Rabbi Tom Heyn leads the Rosh Hashana service at Temple Israel of Greater Miami in September 2014. MIAMI HERALD FILE

When we talk about wellness, most everyone speaks about their physical health. Now it’s time we also consider our spiritual health, says Tom Heyn, rabbi at Temple Israel of Greater Miami.

“Coming to a clearer understanding about that relationship, it’s likely to enhance our knowledge, but also our health and well being in very practical ways,” Rabbi Heyn said. “Wellness is no longer just a matter of physical health. You can be in great physical shape, but there are mental and emotional components, as well as other social and relational dynamics.”

On Sunday, Temple Israel will host a public discussion, “What Is Spiritual Health?’ featuring journalist Jay Michaelson, who covers spirituality and LGBT issues for The Daily Beast and the Forward newspaper and website.

“There are one million new meditators in the U.S.,” says Michaelson, basing his estimate on data from the healthcare industry, schools and the military. “This kind of thing, meditation and spirituality, used to be seen for the weirdos. Now it’s very much in the mainstream.”

Michaelson, who has a doctorate in Jewish thought from Hebrew University and a law degree from Yale, says his Temple Israel discussion is for everyone, not just LGBT Jews.

“The event Sunday is for folks who are post-religious, anti-religious or religious,” he said. “The way I speak and talk about these subjects, I bring my whole self. Being LGBT is part of that, but it’s not focused on that.” Michaelson also will participate in Saturday morning services at Temple Israel.

Michaelson says his Temple Israel appearance is part of an “initiative” by the congregation and Heyn.

“His vision is to transform Temple Israel into a 21st-century center for personal development,” Michaelson said. “That’s my language, not his. He likes the phrase spiritual health.”

In the December-January synagogue newsletter, Heyn writes about the subject: “For the past few centuries, science concerned itself mainly with the ‘exterior dimensions’ of human experience; those dimensions we can measure, using any of our five senses — sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. In more recent years, the social sciences have enabled us to learn and understand more about the ‘interior dimensions’ of the human experience, which include thoughts, feelings and other subjective phenomena.”

Heyn said that this weekend, Michaelson will “share his ideas in the context of our religious practices. On Sunday morning, there is going to be a presentation of these basic ideas.”

After a short lunch break, attendees will participate in an “experiential workshop,” Heyn said.

“We’ll work with the techniques and practices that are proven to be effective in enhancing one’s spiritual health,” he said. “This weekend is going to be an opportunity for us to gain a clearer idea of what spiritual health is, how we can measure it and how we can maximize it. There are things we can do on our own, but there’s something uniquely possible to achieve when you do this with the support of a community of like-minded individuals.”

If you go

▪ What: What Is Spiritual Health?

▪ Who: Journalist Jay Michaelson, author of the book God vs. Gay

▪ Where: Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th St.

▪ When: 10:15 a.m. Sunday

▪ Cost: $18 advance registration, $25 at the door, and free for Temple Israel members. Register at 305-573-5900. Free self-parking.