Sign In Forgot Password

Spiritual Toolbox Workshops

Questions? Contact us at

In addition to tradition, observance and community, we also hope that our High Holy Days services provide spiritual calmness for acceptance in our lives, as well as a prod towards spiritual challenges for overcoming our personal “gremlins.”  The Spiritual Toolbox Workshops on Yom Kippur afternoon, 1 – 2:30 pm (formerly known as “Teshuvah Workshops”) are opportunities for you to grow and develop through the themes of the High Holy Days. Running through our High Holy Day liturgy is the call to embark on the path of “Teshuvah.” “Teshuvah” means turning or returning towards directions in our lives that are healthier, more honest, more open, and freer than how we have lived our lives in the past.

Shma Koleinu does not prescribe or presume what that can mean to you. However, we have found that when the prayers, hopes and dreams that can be summoned in our hearts and minds on Yom Kippur have the chance to be activated through creative and informative media, the lessons of the day stand a better chance of sticking. And very importantly, everyone is invited to attend the Spiritual Toolbox Workshops, whether or not you or they are engaged in a whole day of Yom Kippur observance. Yom Kippur your way.

Led by wonderfully giving and professional leaders, each of our Spiritual Toolbox Workshops are here for you. Please take advantage of them. This hour and a half in the middle of Yom Kippur day (1-2:30 p.m.) is to seek an even more meaningful impact on how you see yourself, your loved ones and the world. Oh, and none of the workshops presume any previous knowledge or experience in their medium! So just give it a shot!

Please scroll down to learn more.


Finding Mindfulness in Judaism

While Mindfulness emerged from the mind-body practices of Buddhism, much of it can be found in the world’s wisdom traditions, including Judaism.  The central purpose of mindfulness is to cultivate qualities of well-being within ourselves, such as equanimity, gratitude, appreciative joy, generosity, loving-kindness, and compassion.  Mindfulness practices are a wonderful tool to harness well-being every day of the year, all the more so on Yom Kippur. No previous experience necessary. Just come and sit.

Ann Friedman, Ph.D. 

Ann, a psychologist, has studied mindfulness intensively with various national teachers since 2007. She began teaching as a volunteer in Houston synagogues in 2012 and in 2015, received a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation from the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine at UCLA.  Ann teaches mindfulness classes for adults, teens, and for parents with their children through her company, Mindful Being, P.C. at The Houston Health Museum, Rothko Chapel, The Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer, as well as in her private office.  She also teaches in businesses and non-profit organizations.  Ann trains in Houston area school districts, often in collaboration with Mental Health America of Greater Houston.  She was sent by UNICEF to Puerto Rico in May 2018, to teach mindfulness following their treacherous hurricane in September 2017.


A Step Towards Forgiveness Through Mental Imagery 

Torah teaches that forgiveness is an important mitzvah, “Do not hate your brother in your heart” (Leviticus 19;17). It is a highly individualized step by step process to move you forward in life with meaning and purpose. Forgiveness benefits you on all levels: mind, body, and spirit. It strengthens your immune system and your relationships. It decreases your hostility toward others and towards yourself. It opens the door for more gratitude in your life. You can change victim hood to power, fatigue to energy, and alter negative perceptions to positive. It all begins in the image!

This group will be an experiential, hands-on, mental imagery, problem solving exercise and a tool for better understanding yourself, another, or a situation in your life. You will see in your minds-eye beyond intellectual defenses, ego, and justification. You will see a difficult individual or circumstance from different angles. It will soften your mind and heart, relax your physiology, and bring you to a step towards forgiveness.

Nanette Tashnek MSW, D.PSc 

Nanette completed a Masters in Social Work, is a certified Eidetic Imagery Practitioner/Trainer, a certified Radix Body Psychotherapist, a Transformational Coach, and a Diplomat of Pastoral Science and Medicine. She practiced traditional psychotherapy over eighteen years. Nanette has seventeen years post graduate studies and training in Ahsen’s Image Psychology and uses Eidetic Imagery, a mind body psychotherapy of internal mental images, with individuals, couples, and in creative groups, and workshops. Nanette’s passion and mission continues unfolding in support of natural healing through this illuminating and life changing method called Eidetic Imagery. Self-discovery, well-being, and inherent genetic potentials can be realized in life.  


Standing on the Human Side of the Border

Nowhere in the nation are the push and pull of immigration felt more than in Texas. Even so, the dynamics of our southern border can feel far away and reduced to partisan soundbites that we can turn off when we've had enough. For tens of thousands of people a year however, the drama is very real. In this session, Matt Neal, a volunteer coordinator from Interfaith Welcome Coalition in San Antonio will share his personal experience of the intensely human side of our immigration system. Participants will be invited to engage in a structured conversation about the realities of the situation and the people at the center of it.

Matt Neal

Matt Neal is a lifelong educator with degrees from Swarthmore College and Harvard University. He moved to Texas 15 years ago to teach English at the then-fledgling Emery High School, and has since promoted education reform in various capacities, including as an early consultant to the YEDA schools in Israel. Matt currently designs professional development experiences for public school leaders. Eager to maintain a connection to the front lines of social justice work, Matt spends much of his free time coordinating services to asylum-seekers through the Interfaith Welcome Coalition in San Antonio. His parents, Bill and Brenda Neal, live in Houston and are supporters of Congregation Shma Koleinu.


Spiritual Painting led by Deborah Horwitz and Ilana Reisz

This workshop will provide a creative artistic space in which participants will be invited to explore the experience and meaning of the high holidays. Participants will be introduced to printmaking and collage techniques with mixed media options.  No previous art experience is necessary. Come ready to get your hands dirty and have a relaxing and enriching experience (aprons and art materials will be provided).

Deborah Horwitz
Deborah started doing art as soon as she could hold a crayon!  She was in her first art show at age 6 at the JCC, and has continued making and exhibiting art ever since.
Deborah currently teaches art at The Emery/Weiner School, combining her love of art and children and is a member of a group of artists working in Armando Rodriquez’ printmaking studio. 

Ilana Reisz

Ilana has been making art in various media as a form of play throughout most of her life. For the past 12 years, her focus has been on printmaking and the fun of creating monotypes, linocut prints, and collages. She is also a part of a group of artists working in Armando Rodriquez’ printmaking studio in Houston, and on occasion, she has participated in open and juried art shows, including Winter Street Studios, Jung Center, Women in Literary and Visual Arts (WIVAL) and Archway Gallery. Ilana is currently teaching “Collaborative Leadership”, an elective course at Xavier Academy, where meaning-making is explored in the context of conversations and has meaningfully contributed to her journey as an artist.


Restorative Yoga led by Justine Fanarof

You may have heard us talk about Shma Koleinu’s “Kosher Pretzel,” but this isn’t it. This Yom Kippur yoga session will not challenge your body, nearly as much as it will calm your mind. “Restorative Yoga” is meant to bring peace and quiet to your stirring soul on this very soul-stirring day. 

Justine K. Fanarof, JD, MPH, E-RYT 500
Justine’s work as a yoga and mindfulness teacher is grounded in a lifetime of intellectual inquiry, social justice activism, and community service. Her spiritual practices have supported her through the arduous process of becoming and being an adult. The thread of her spiritual practice runs concurrent to her practice of higher education and her personal work has been to understand how the two practices coalesce. Justine’s range of life experiences, from being a lawyer, working with undocumented children, producing news, living abroad, speaking Spanish, and working on legislative issues, to studying, practicing, and teaching embodied physical and spiritual practices yield her specific gifts as a teacher. A teacher of yoga and mindfulness since 2004 and a practicing lawyer with a Master’s Degree in Public Health, Justine is a creative, thoughtful, and ethical teacher. Justine is the Owner and Founder of Fanarof Law and Justine Yoga and the creator of Mindful Law Firm™, Mindfulness Based Mediation™, and Yogi Know Thyself™. With deep gratitude and joy, she brings her range of practices and teachings to her community.

Sat, July 11 2020 19 Tammuz 5780