Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, M.A. is an author, psychotherapist, and founding rabbi of Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder, Colorado. Widely known for her groundbreaking work on Kabbalah and depth psychology and the re-integration of the feminine wisdom tradition within Judaism, Rabbi Firestone lectures and teaches throughout the United States on spirituality, meditation, and the integration of ancient mystical wisdom into contemporary life. She is currently working on a doctorate in Depth Pscyhology with an emphasis on eco and the global community, at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Tirzah’s love for the ancient tradition of Judaism focuses on the mystical and Hassidic teachings which she knows to have profound healing power and which she believes speak to the great imbalances we face in the twenty-first century.
She says: “In this vast world, every one of us needs to belong. We all need to know that we have warm arms to hold us, some form of family, and a tribal identity that gives us a personal anchor. But our tribe can also limit us. At this time when the world cries out with so much suffering, we need to be rooted in who we are but also expand our sphere of awareness in wider and wider circles of concern.”
Raised in an Orthodox home in St. Louis, Missouri, Rabbi Firestone’s upbringing and rigorous Jewish education ran counter to her natural spiritual curiosity. Determined to find freedom, she forcefully rejected her Jewish heritage to embark upon a spiritual odyssey that took her around the world and into the very heart of counterculture spirituality.
After years of seeking, Rabbi Firestone came to Boulder, Colorado, to study natural healing, Reichian therapy, and psychotherapy. Her training in and love for the teachings of Wilhelm Reich and Carl Jung helped to define for her the common boundaries between the body’s deep wisdom and that which arises from the psyche in the form of dreams, intuition and spiritual guidance.
Her career as teacher/lecturer began with courses in Reichian studies, body-mind psychology, and Therapeutic Touch, which she taught at the Rocky Mountain Healing Arts Institute, Naropa University, and numerous medical conferences around the United States. She earned her Masters Degree in Holistic Counseling from Beacon College in 1982.
But her spiritual quest was far from complete. In the mid-1980’s, Rabbi Firestone responded to a deep call to return to her Jewish roots to become a rabbi. She began her studies with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, and continued with many other private teachers. In November, 1992, Rabbi Firestone was ordained as a rabbi by Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Gershon Winkler, Rabbi Shoshana Leibowitz and Rabbi Akiva Mann.
The story of Rabbi Firestone’s spiritual quest leading to her return to a renewed Judaism is chronicled in her dramatic memoir, With Roots In Heaven: One Woman’s Passionate Journey into the Heart of Her Faith (Plume:1998).
Her best-selling audiotape program, The Woman’s Kabbalah: Ecstatic Jewish Practices for Women, is a two-tape audio course filled with meditations and stories rich in Jewish mystical tradition. Presented in non-technical, practical terms, the tapes appeal to listeners of all spiritual backgrounds. This audio course is available through Sounds True Tapes, www.soundstrue.com, or, by calling 1-800-333-9185.
Rabbi Firestone’s book about Kabbalah and women is The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom (Harper San Francisco, 2003). It has been hailed as the “non-fiction companion to Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent.” The Receiving is an historical rendering of seven unchronicled Jewish women mystics and sages whose lives span the 2nd through 20th centuries. These women were virtually omitted from history books and were, as such, unknown. Rabbi Firestone brings their dramatic lives to light, using their stories and teachings to piece together the potent women’s wisdom tradition that was lost to (some say, cut out of) the Jewish tradition.
In The Receiving, Rabbi Firestone presents Kabbalistic teachings such as the journey of the soul, the Tree of Life, and the sephirotic map viewed in light of women’s psychology and spirituality. She uses women’s stories from her teaching and psychotherapy practice to illustrate the profound healing potential inherent in the Kabbalah and to make it accessible to her readers.
The essence of the Jewish tradition is found at its mystical core, says Rabbi Firestone. Studying the mystical principles of this tradition is inherently balancing and healing because the teachings are all about the union of opposites: the high and the low, spirit and matter, masculine and feminine ways of being in the world. Due to centuries of exclusively one-sided male interpretations, the transmission of these teachings has become imbalanced. The Receiving offers a fresh view, a woman’s lens, to understand the teachings in a way that is psychologically and spiritually relevant. “It is time for women and men to avail ourselves of these teachings at long last,” says Firestone, “We must study them, be healed by them, and reclaim them as our own.”
Tirzah lives in Colorado with her husband David.Their three children, Brianna, Dakota and Emily are in their early twenties.
Rabbi Firestone may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.