Rabbi Yael Saidoff

My story is in many ways like every seeker’s story- leaving home, a journey, returning home more aware, more deeply connected, and ready to teach. And, like every seeker, the particularities of my life, the stations, teachers and lessons of my journey, make me uniquely suited to a particular kind of vocation and leadership in the world: I feel called to facilitate others in the universal search for connection through the particular language of the Jewish tradition.

I left the Bay Area at age 19 with a round-the-world ticket and the address of an ashram in the remotest corner of India. I return to the Bay Area with degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology, ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and immunity to diseases not found on the North American continent. I also return with a wealth of experience serving in congregational, pastoral, and academic settings.

I currently hold an adjunct faculty position at the American Jewish University. At the AJU I teach comparative mysticism, Mussar (character development), and Hassidut (Jewish mysticism). Prior to that, I served as the associate Rabbi at Beit T’shuvah, a residential addiction treatment facility and synagogue. There I counseled residents and led participatory, musical services that applied the insights of our tradition to foster spiritual growth. Even before ordination, I studied Kabbalah and Hassidut from the masters, joined the inner circle and tought classes on behalf of the Renewal community in Jerusalem, Nava Tehila. In my work, I have brought meditation to synagogues across Los Angeles, developing commited practitioners and spiritual seekers.

I have a sustained practice in meditation, study, and the guidance of my mentors, including Rabbi Yoel Glick, founder of the Original Chochmat haLev in Jerusalem. (Read a letter of recommendation for Rabbi Yael here).

I arrive in Chochmat Ha Lev in Berkeley shaped by my experiences, informed by my learning and guided by the vision of Chochmat’s founders.