Schisler provides ‘mindful’ pathways to peace
Photo: Submitted by Rebecca Schisler
“Shevet,” a mindfulness program, is one of many that Rebecca Schisler leads.

By Deb Silverthorn

Rebecca Schisler has been a spiritual soul since she was born. Now as an adult, her life and career are being built on mindfulness.

Schisler has lived in Dallas since she was 2 months old and is studying to become a rabbi, spreading light, teaching mindfulness and providing pathways toward peace through many avenues.

“Mindfulness is absolutely a Jewish concept,” said Schisler in her peaceful tone of voice, “one that brings comfort and clarity.”

She described the Institute of Jewish Spirituality as “a pioneer of Jewish mindfulness with programs for all ages.” She continued, “You don’t need any experience with mindfulness to walk away changed. The success is evident and the thirst, hunger and need for tools through which to find meaning, purpose and well-being are obvious.”

Since Feb. 5, Schisler has been leading IJS’ “Shevet,” a weekly Jewish mindfulness practice and open conversation and reflection, for those in their 20s and 30s. The program, live on Zoom each Monday at 7 p.m. Central time (with online access to recordings later), provides an opportunity for young people to nurture their capacity for wise response, compassion, resilience and well-being. There is also a WhatsApp group for participants who want to connect outside the weekly meetup.

“We are working through life’s ongoing challenges and joys and the recent difficult times we are in collectively. It is nourishing to ground ourselves in spiritual practice and community,” said Schisler. “Drawing from the wisdom of our tradition we can foster our capacity for wise response, for resilience, compassion and well-being.

“‘Shevet,’ it’s a pause. ‘Shevet achim gam yachad,” she added. “Cease and just be.”

The daughter of Shelley Meyers and Rabbi Avi Mitzner and Howell and Euphrosyne Schisler and one of eight siblings, Schisler is a graduate of Akiba Yavneh Academy who was raised at Congregation Shearith Israel.

A graduate of Wesleyan University and the Pardes Arts and Culture Fellowship, Schisler was hired by Pardes to cowrite its Mahloket Matters Schools curriculum for constructive conflict resolution. There, she created a program for participants to integrate skills of mindfulness that would allow them to have their own opinions but to see others humanly and with grace.

After returning to the United States in 2021, Schisler directed the SHEFA (Spiritual resilience, Holistic health, Emotional well-being, Food security and Abundance) Initiative for Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel. Still living in Northern California, she is just over two years away from her ordination by the ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal rabbinic program. Schisler is growing daily from its orientation to a spirituality that draws from every denomination but doesn’t hold to only one.

“Jewish Renewal is part of the legacy of the Ba’al Shem Tov, a direct connection with the Divine,” she says. “The training is not just intellectual but experiential; I’m not so much a scholar but this fills me, art fills me and teaching fills me.

“As a freshman in college I was at a Jewish mindfulness retreat and immediately knew I’d found my path,” said Schisler. “After graduating I went on retreats in the U.S., in India and in Israel, and I found powerful healing in the practice.”

Now, she is a full-time faculty member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality; on the teaching faculty of Or Ha Lev: Center for Jewish Spirituality & Meditation; and a lecturer at Stanford School of Medicine. A regular teacher of IJS’ daily meditation sits, which can be found on YouTube, Schisler also leads parasha-guided meditations and more.

Schisler’s family isn’t surprised in the least that spreading spirituality, through the tone of intention, is the path she has taken.

“I’ve learned so much about calm and clarity from Becky (as she is called by her family). I can’t imagine going on a retreat without her. Some have been silent, mostly silent anyway,” said her mother, Shelley. “She’s following her heart and she’s so appreciated by anyone who experiences the different programs she’s running.”

Tanya Meyers was thrilled but not surprised to see many people gathered at Schisler’s birthday celebration last year, to sing and talk and just be together. She remembers her first granddaughter, this peaceful and deliberate young lady, at every stage of life, even as a baby.

“She is such an amazing listener, an empathetic and wonderful girl,” said Meyers. “She is truly loved and she truly loves.”

Schisler has lived up to the honor of her paternal great-grandmother, Beckie Schisler, for whom she’s named.

“My grandmother was the mother of six boys during the depression — not an easy thing — and yet she was the kindest woman,” said Howell Schisler. “My daughter is the pure epitome of her namesake.

“Becky has a rare gift, talent and ability to be a calming influence. Her choice of words, the inflection she uses, all come together,” he said.

At RebeccaSchisler.com, where she posts her art of design and of words, Schisler wrote in 2019, “I remember life’s simplicity and my agency to choose space. I could fall on my face for days in humble gratitude for this.”

For registration for Shevet and other programs of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, visit jewishspirituality.org/?s=shevet. For other IJS programs, go to jewishspirituality.org. To contact Schisler, visit rebeccaschisler.com/contact.

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