Rabbinical school did not teach me about the energy within sacred text or ritual.
Fifteen women of different backgrounds and builds lounge on cushions in a circle in my living room on Friday night to celebrate Shabbat. The lighting is soft and gentle, and Middle Eastern rhythms play in the background. On the windowsill are two Shabbat candles waiting to be lit.
There are no prayer books, no kippot, no chairs, no formality. We will not be reciting Psalms or hearing a d’var torah.
Tonight will not be like any other Shabbat service.
We are gathered for “Bellydance Kabbalat Shabbat.”
Instead of singing about the Shabbat Queen in Lecha Dodi, we will become Her.
Here's an insider’s peek:
We shimmied our hips and crowned ourselves as Queens.
We awakened to our true intentions; we laughed and cried.
We shared the deep desires of our hearts and saw the light and beauty in each other.
We began as strangers; we ended as soul sisters.
Like a perfume that evokes mystery, the magic of this experience cannot be fully revealed in a blog post.
I could describe the rituals and embodiment practices I created and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how we crowned ourselves as Shabbat Queens, but something would still be missing—the extraordinary energy of that moment.
What makes an experience transformational is its energy.
Although energy may seem like a New Age concept, it is as ancient as creation itself. Energy is always there, but often hidden. Energy infuses everything in life, but we rarely recognize its presence.
The Torah hints at the power of energy in accessing holiness when Jacob journeys to Haran. When he awakens from a dream, he states, “Ma Nora HaMakom Hazeh!” (How awe-filled is this place!). Jacob was looking at the same terrain and trees as before he slept, but a lightbulb had turned on within him and something had changed. He suddenly felt a new holiness of this space, moment, land, and experience of being alive. He felt energy.
You instinctively know how to recognize energy.
When you walk into a room you can feel when the “energy is off.” Someone may be complaining and you feel turned off, because the energy repulses you. This is a natural and healthy response. Conversely, seeing a baby cooing, or hearing a beautiful piece of music, may activate life-force energy within you, and feel good.
The energy embodied in things matters. It is the difference between playing piano by rote or with feeling.
Our ability to attune to energy determines the amount of awe and holiness we can experience.
Knowing how to activate and transmute energy to heal and augment joy is a sacred art. The great rabbis of old were known as healers with magical powers because they accessed and utilized energy. It is time for us to reclaim this ancient practice in our modern lives.
Rabbinical school did not teach me about the energy within sacred text or ritual. No one told me about the healing powers dormant within each of us, waiting for expression. It was through my background in Eastern energy healing that I could feel between the lines and see what the rabbis of old knew: Judaism is based on energy awakening and awareness. Like Jacob, once we activate that energy within us, we can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Cultivating this energy allows us moments of awe.
It augments beauty.
It clarifies purpose.
It expands joy and pleasure.
It is how we create the most powerful and potent rituals.
It is how we transform undulating hips or shimmying shoulders into a holy work of art.
It is time to connect the dots between energy, the body, and Judaism.
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Rabbi Cherina Eisenberg is the founder of Hot Pink Torah: The Revelation of YOU!, which provides authentic, immersive, and easily accessible Jewish gems curated for women’s empowerment. An inspirational speaker, innovative educator, and energy healer, she offers practical and embodied wisdom for women to cultivate a lifestyle of self-confidence, joy and radiance.