April 19, 2019

Ancient wisdom optimized for the digital age

Nine presenters spoke TED-style on how ancient Jewish wisdom applies to creating opportunities for creativity and joy during a Feb. 22 Los Angeles kickoff event for Wisdom Tribe, a collective of Jewish educators and innovators providing digital and experiential learning opportunities to a universal audience.

The gathering, called “SoCal Sessions: Catalyzing Creative Consciousness,” drew about 70 adults to Social Dashboard, a new tech company and event space in Pico-Robertson.

“Wisdom Tribe is, in a very active and practical way, catalyzing the Jewish ideal of being an or la’goyim, a light unto the nations,” said Wisdom Tribe SoCal Regional Director Benji Elson. “There is a growing desire in the world for mindfulness and spirituality, specifically in the techie, entrepreneur world. But no one is turning to Judaism for that wisdom because, until this point, Jewish wisdom hasn’t been easily accessible to them. 

“By taking our deepest Jewish wisdom teachings and packaging them for a sophisticated, global audience through high-end digital media, we are bringing the light of Torah to the rest of the world in a powerful way. We are forming a tribe of Jewish thought leaders, and we are inviting everyone to join us.”

Presenters discussed approaching creativity in a variety of ways.

“The imagination is an incredible, powerful force,” said artist Ariel Fabian Lijtmaer. “Creativity is divine flow, tapping into something greater. Creativity moves internally and externally. It can reshape our minds and transform the pain.”

M.A. Greenstein, founder of the George Greenstein Institute, a mobile arts and science lab, said memory needs to be deconstructed in order to learn about creativity.

“Wandering is our primary attention state — focus is not. Memory is the seat of creativity, and we’re competing with our phones and laptops; we need to create the brain space to take a tech time-out,” she said. 

Kabbalah and spirituality teacher Rina Lankry Perkel addressed Jewish astrology, noting that each month has its own special character: Pisces/Adar is “a time of renewed creativity … a time of transformation,” she said. “That’s why Purim happened in Pisces. We should all be happy. It’s not that hard. Get out of your head and do something. Creativity is about creating a channel for your ultimate purpose in the world.”

Local musician Sam Glaser shared tips on eliminating blocks to creativity, like fear, frustration, judgment and perfectionism.

Other speakers included author and KabbalaToons founder Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, women’s spirituality teacher Nomi Freeman, former technology consultant Rabbi Yitz Jacobs, poet Rachel Kann, and Hollywood writers David N. Weiss and David Sacks. 

Elson said it is the group’s intention to bring Wisdom Tribe to “even more cities throughout the U.S. and across the world.” In December, for example, Wisdom Tribe held a gathering called the Forest Sessions in Israel’s Judean Hills.