Our People

Or HaLev staff:


Dr. Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, Founder and Master Teacher

Dr. Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels is the founder of Or HaLev: A Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation and has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for over fifteen years. He teaches Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University and Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study with his practice, and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.


Rabbi Sara Brandes, Executive Director

Rabbi Sara Brandes was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and brings experience from the pulpit and non-profit worlds to Or HaLev. Past California Director at Moving Traditions and former Associate Rabbi at the Malibu Jewish Center, Sara is a lifetime spiritual seeker and a certified yoga instructor. Based in Israel, she continues to serve as Rabbi-in-Residence to the Camp Alonim community in Los Angeles. She is author of Magical World: Stories, Reflections, Poems and is partner to Hyim, and mother to Michal and Gavi.


Daniel Yoel Cohen (Danny), Teacher

Danny graduated from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he began to connect with peers confused about their true direction and disconnected from the inner compass of their emotional and spiritual lives. He realized a calling in meeting people in their place of searching, struggling, and reckoning, helping them find their way to a life of radiance, soulfulness, emotional balance, and relational intimacy. In the years hence, he made it his life’s work to walk that path and know it well, finding his own way from depression to a life of heartful presence and well-being, and leading to an exploration of a wide range of fields and intensive meditation and spiritual practice. In addition, Danny pursued study of Torah and wisdom in a variety of yeshivot and institutions in Israel, the U.S., India, Nepal, and Mexico, as well as through the modern worlds of psychology/psychotherapy and transformative change work, and grounded in daily practice of meditation, prayer, and regular intensive retreat. The founding director of Or HaLev, Danny now devotes himself to teaching meditation, NVC, and works one-on-one with people seeking healing and transformation. His web site is http://www.thelivingheart.life

Rabbi Daniel Silverstein, Teacher

Daniel Raphael Silverstein is a rabbi, creative educator, meditation teacher and MC/poet. He recently moved to Israel from Palo Alto, where he was Director of Jewish Life and Learning for Hillel at Stanford University. He received his ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School after several years of work in Europe and the US in the arts, education, and Muslim-Jewish relations. He is an accredited meditation teacher and recently taught a 6-day retreat with Rav James Jacobson-Maisels.

Partners of Or HaLev:

Dr. Zvi Bellin is a meditation teacher at Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley. He began teaching Jewish-based meditation in 2001, studying with Rabbis David Zeller, Jeff Roth, David & Shoshana Cooper, and Sylvia Boorstein. He is the Director of Jewish Education at Moishe House and teaches Jewish contemplative practice worldwide. Zvi is a professional counselor with a private psychotherapy practice. He is a proud member of the LGBT community and has directed retreats for Nehirim: GLBT Jewish Culture and Spirituality. His website, meaningthroughbeing.com, highlights his fusion of meaning-based practices that are informed by spirituality and research.


Rabbi Jeff Roth is a well-known meditation practitioner, teacher, and facilitator of Jewish retreats. He is founder and director of the Awakened Heart Project for Contemplative Judaism, and cofounder of Elat Chayyim, where he served as executive director and spiritual director for 13 years. Rabbi Roth is an experienced meditation teacher and the facilitator of over 100 Jewish meditation retreats and is the author of Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life: Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God.


Rabbi Joanna Katz teaches Jewish Meditation, and Mindfulness Meditation with an emphasis on Insight and Loving-kindness practice.  She is the Jewish Chaplain at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility were she serves women who teach her what it means to open to the Divine in daily life and live with compassion.  She serves as a spiritual resource and guide to an ongoing women’s meditation group that has been meeting weekly for 12 years. Joanna lives with her family in New York’s glorious Hudson River Valley.


Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg  is one of the leading teachers of  mindfulness meditation and yoga to rabbis, Jewish professionals and lay  people and serves as faculty for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.  She is creator and co-leader of the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Program. She is the author of Surprisingly Happy: An Atypical Religious  Memoir and has released the CD, Preparing the Heart: Meditations for Jewish Spiritual Practice (available at http://www.jewishspirituality.org/resources/books-and-cds/).



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