JEWISH ASSOCIATION OF SPIRITUALITY AND DREAMS
Journalist Joyce Lynn Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks
PO Box 7152
Louisville, Kentucky 40257
a 501(c)3 organization
He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top ascended to the sky and angels of God were going up and down on it. – Genesis 28:13
Like angels ascending and descending Jacob’s ladder, dreams link heaven and earth, the physical and the cosmic. Dreams, the language of the soul, the voice of the Divine, open a sacred space to connect with God.
Dream allusions fill our prayerbooks, Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah, but in modern Judaism dreams are a neglected part of our heritage. Prayer and deeds of loving kindness are established practices and meditation a rediscovered tradition of Jewish spirituality, yet our religious institutions have lost appreciation of dreams as an entrance to holiness.
The Talmud, rabbinic teachings of Jewish law, contains a dream manual (Brakhot 55a-57b). The Torah illumines the importance of dreams. Throughout, God appears in dreams and visions to prophets and kings: to Abimelech (king of Gerar) in “a dream of the night,” to Israel “in visions of the night,” to Moses in “a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.”
In the Torah, Joseph translates Pharaoh’s dreams of plenty and famine, leading to a public policy that saves the Egyptians from starvation. King Nebuchadnezzar suffers the physical and emotional toil of defying the will of God as imparted to him in a dream. God, in dreams, grants King Solomon the gift of wisdom.
Readings in Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book crystallize facets of dreams: “I find You in the marvels of Your creative might. In visions in Your Temple/In dreams that bless the night.” And, “Grant, O Eternal God, that we may lie down in peace, and raise us up, O Sovereign, to life renewed. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace, guide us with Your good counsel, and for Your name’s sake, be our Help.”
Yet, in Judaism today, the guiding, protective, and healing aspects of dreams are forgotten. Prominent Jewish spiritual centers list Torah study and meditation as paths to Jewish wisdom and a relationship with God but omit dreaming as a mystical mode. Sisterhoods sponsor bridge tournaments, Mah Jongg games, and yoga classes, but dream circles are rare.
The mission of the Jewish Association of Spirituality and Dreams (JASD) is to rediscover and embrace dream wisdom as a fundamental pillar of Jewish spirituality and impart dream awareness as a spiritual practice for all faiths. Our aim is to create a global community of dreamers focused on tikkun atzmi and tikkun olam, healing ourselves and our world.
Dreams strengthen the spiritual seeker and houses of worship, nurture personal growth, and empower communities – all values of today’s Jewish institutions. JASD will re-instill appreciation of dreams to synagogue services and individual and communal Jewish life by empowering the affiliated and unaffiliated to call on the power of dreams in all aspects of life.
We will explore the potency of Jewish and interfaith communities sharing dreams, and we will draw upon the positive insights and actions flowing from attention to our dreams.
JASD will emphasize the educational rather than the psychological aspects of dreams, the transformational rather than the therapeutic, and the sacred rather than the scientific. JASD programs and publications will dispel the notion propagated in traditional texts that it is mostly men, prophets, and royalty who hear Divine guidance and recognize Divine will. JASD will teach how the sage wisdom of dreams is available to each and every person. Dreams enable all of us to expand our potential, experience spiritual growth, and foster the common good through the guiding, protective, healing, and transformative power of dreams.
The Jewish Association of Dreams and Spirituality will integrate dream awareness into Jewish life through presentations, programs, and classes at synagogues, Jewish centers, campus Hillel chapters, Sisterhoods, youth groups, retreats, and interfaith events. The COVID-19 pandemic, requiring social distancing and other measures as of March, 2020, has, for the foreseeable future, necessisated shifting many of our programs to viritual and other digital modalities.
Primary ways we will accomplish our mission:
• Create and publish a textbook and a prayerbook filled with historical, liturgical, and literary dream references to be a part of JASD services and other religious and public activities. The publications will educate both those familiar and unfamiliar with dreams and dreaming. We will teach dream journaling and sharing as well as how to remember, understand, listen to, and integrate dream lessons for positive personal and social change.
• Facilitate dream circles and Chalom Salons as integral parts of individual, synagogue, and communal life. JASD will create a protocol for Sacred Dream Circles that may be offered by houses of worship, organizations, and groups. The Association will establish a program to train facilitators.
• Revive the traditional ritual, the Amelioration of Dreams, to synagogue services and community life. The Talmudic practice (Talmud Bavli, Berakhot 55b) laces biblical accounts and prayer with the healing power of dreams. The dreamer is called to present the dream before three witnesses, who listen and respond according to a specified list of pronouncements (Appendix 2).
• Write a regular column for mainstream Jewish publications on dreams and dreaming. We will recall dreams relating to Torah portions, dreams on the Sabbath holding special significance, and dreams infusing creative problem-solving, from the personal to the practical.
• Establish and maintain a website connecting a global community of dreamers toward evincing healing and peace.
Dreams are integral to all religions of the world. Dreams fill the holy books of the major monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Appendix 1).
The strong interfaith component of the Association draws upon and expands the historical roots of dreams in world religions and enhances the power of dreams within and among individual faiths. JASD will provide the opportunity for interfaith sharing of dreams as paths toward working together to inspire peace in the home, community, and world.
In 2010, journalist Joyce Lynn and Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks led “Sacred Dreams: Exploring the Jewish Practice of Dream Interpretation,” a weekend retreat for the women of The Temple in Louisville, Kentucky’s oldest and largest synagogue. The richness of dreams woven into the Shabbat services and the enthusiasm for learning about dreams by the participants motivated Joyce and Rabbi Rooks to create JASD.
When Joyce Lynn turned forty, after a decade as a political reporter in Washington, D.C., she dreamt the first dream she ever remembered. It inspired an elusive scene for the screenplay she was writing and guided her journalism career. A few months later, she faced a potentially life-threatening health crisis. Dream wisdom disclosed information about her physical condition and effected her healing. As a result, dreams have guided Joyce’s life for decades.
Joyce’s personal experience with dreams led her back to her Jewish roots, where she found meaning in dream references in traditional texts. Returning to Judaism with deepened awareness, she discovered the intricacies of the power of dreams permeated the same texts and prayerbooks she studied when she was Confirmed in the tenth grade.
She is the author of two books about dreams, Plum Dreams Diary: On Mothers, Men, Modern Medicine, and the Divine, a collection of dream narratives exploring the female psyche, and the recently published Dreams and the Wisdom Within, revealing the healing power of dreams.
Drawing on a B.A. in Education from the University of Michigan and a M.A. in Journalism from The American University, Joyce speaks to women’s organizations, religious groups, and professional societies on the power of dreams to elicit personal and social change.
Joyce’s parents and grandparents were active in the Jewish community in Columbus, Ohio, where she grew up. The Hillel at Ohio State University was originally dedicated to her grandfather, Edwin J. Schanfarber, because of his passion for the role of Judaism in student life. She learned from their righteousness the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam, repairing the world.
A few years ago, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Joyce dreamt a childhood friend appeared at the entrance of the Jewish Day School where the friend was an administer. She and Joyce went inside to the large hallway between the school and the synagogue, the space joining learning and spirituality. The friend removed her shoes, but Joyce was wearing cross-trainers. They left wet footprints on the black marble floor.
Joyce interpreted the footprints as a sign to revive teaching about dreams and Judaism, which she had abandoned in favor of reporting about the events of 9/11. She felt the dream showed how to make a difference in the Jewish community and beyond as had generations of her family before.
GAYLIA R. ROOKS
Rabbi Rooks served for thirty years as spiritual leader of The Temple-Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom, the historic Reform congregation in Louisville, Kentucky. A dedication to social justice, passion for liturgical music, and commitment to spiritual growth are the hallmarks of her rabbinate. She was one of the first fifty female rabbis ordained in the United States and the first female rabbi in Kentucky.
She was called to serve when she was a young girl. In the midst of the turmoil of her parents’ divorce, she was walking home from school along the beach when she heard the Divine call to become a rabbi. Since that time, she has been dedicated to serving the Jewish community and all God’s children.
Rabbi Rooks holds a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Psychology, cum laude, from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College where she was ordained in 1984. She has a Doctor of Divinity from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Rabbi Rooks also has a doctorate in Pastoral Care from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
As Rabbi Emerita, she continues as a leader in the Jewish and interfaith communities. She is at the forefront of activities and programs with the Center for Interfaith Relations, the Festival of Faiths, and Interfaith Paths to Peace. For more than twenty years, Rabbi Rooks has appeared on the “Moral Side of the News,” an interfaith panel broadcast weekly on television and radio.
She created The Temple’s annual interfaith summer concert, Peace by Piece, bringing faith traditions together through song. Rabbi Rooks was an invited speaker at the first memorial service for Muhammad Ali at the Islamic Center, Louisville.
For Rabbi Rooks, “Dreams represent an intimate interaction with the Divine. They are a gift from the Holy One, helping to decipher our souls.”
CHAIR: Linda K. Bledsoe, Ph.D.
Dr. Linda K. Bledsoe is a social psychologist. Her research interests encompass health-related areas including domestic violence prevention, smoking cessation, and healthy life style predictors. An associate professor, Dr. Bledsoe was on the research faculty at the University of Louisville for 15 years and currently is a U of L adjunct professor.
Dozens of articles she authored have appeared in peer-review, scholarly journals, and she has received numerous awards. In 2020, she received the Dr. Jeff Frank Recognition Award for outstanding teaching by part-time faculty at the Kent School, University of Louisville. The Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville and the Metro Louisville government cited “her extraordinary leadership, her outstanding performance, and her dedication.” as a founding member of the Prevention, Education, and Advocacy on Campus and in the Community program (PEACC)
Appointed by the mayor of Louisville, Dr. Bledsoe served on the Metro Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinating Council from 2005 to 2018. She has also served as a board member of the Clothesline Project, an advocacy and education program combating violence against women.
A long-time dreamer, Dr. Bledsoe calls on her dreams for guidance and insight.
JASD is organized as an Unincorported Non-Profit Association (UNPA) under the 2015 Kentucky Revised Statutes CHAPTER 273A -Certificate #1079528.
JASD is a 501(c) not-for-profit organization.
Our under $50,000/year budget, for which we are seeking foundation and donor support, is designed to cover the costs associated with these activities, so JASD programs and publications may be offered without cost to individuals, houses of worship, community centers, and institutes to relieve them from incurring the cost of providing JASD programs in these difficult financial times.
As Jacob realized and JASD strives to inspire, dreams are a gateway to the Divine: And Jacob awakened out of his sleep, and he said: “Surely the Eternal One is in this place; and I knew it not.” And he was afraid, and said: “How full of awe is this place! This is none other than thehouse of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” – Genesis 29:17