Beyond Enlightenment: The Best is Yet to Come

Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7 pm—Does Judaism have an end goal for spiritual growth? Is Buddhist enlightenment the same as Hindu liberation or Christian mystical union? The Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to join Rabbi Matt on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 7 pm as he considers these questions.

Religions are both traditions and innovations. Their innermost spiritual expressions change over time. In our culture, we embrace newness in technology, science, business, and the arts, but we leave spiritual innovation largely unexplored—at least openly. Religions are storehouses of tremendous wisdom that originate in ancient civilizations. However, to fully actualize their potential, we must take even their most transcendent lessons, and juxtapose them to today’s needs.

In Beyond Enlightenment, Rabbi Matt Ponak will explore different forms of spiritual realization—the end goals of meditative schools—from a multitude of mystical traditions. In so doing, he will paint a picture of what contemporary forms of enlightenment could look like. Contrary to the common view, the later stages of mystical progression vary quite dramatically from system to system. Could it be that new forms of spiritual development are waiting to be discovered?

Rabbi Matt Ponak is a teacher and student of embodied transformation. Rabbi Matt has studied with many of this generation’s leading teachers of Jewish mysticism including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, R. Arthur Green, R. Zvi Ish-Shalom, R. Tirzah Firestone, and R. Rami Shapiro. Also holding an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University, Rabbi Matt weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights. 

Sponsored by the Emanu-El Adult Education Team. Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at

  • Join online: CLICK HERE
  • Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
  • Meeting ID: 816 4363 6475
  • Passcode: 002731

Twilight Between the Worlds: Tales of Ghosts, Wandering Souls and Reincarnating Spirits

Sunday November 27, 2016, 7:30 PM, Congregation Emanu-El


To round out Jewish Art Month, we are delighted to welcome Reb Simcha Raphael who will engage us
with his knowledge of Jewish folklore concerning the afterlife. 

Simcha Raphael, Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the DA’AT (Death Awareness Education And Professional Development Training) INSTITUTE. He has worked as a death awareness educator, bereavement counsellor and hospice chaplain for over twenty-five years. Ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, he received a doctorate in Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has written extensively on the topics of death, bereavement and the afterlife. In addition to his renowned erudition about death and the afterlife, (see, Reb Simcha is an entertaining raconteur.

Using the storytelling traditions of Jewish folk religion, he will guide us
into the invisible worlds populated by ghosts, lost souls, haunting spirits, dybbukim,
and heavenly angelic guides. 

join us at Emanu-El synagogue on November 27, 2016 at 7:30 pm where you will encounter
an ambience suited to Reb Simcha Raphael’s stories from the Twilight Between
the Worlds: Tales of Ghosts, Wandering and Reincarnating Souls.

We promise you an evening of unusual and amusing entertainment.

  • Tickets
    $10, available in advance from the office, or at the door.
  • (update:) Simcha Gift Store will be open from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm for Ḥanukkah and Judaica Sales.
  • Desserts,
    tea, coffee and juice will be served, BYOB to share.