Barbara Eve Breitman, D.Min, co-created the Spiritual Direction program at RRC, making it the first rabbinic seminary to offer such a program to students. Through this regular practice, every student can have an ongoing relationship with a spiritual companion to explore and reflect on their spiritual and ethical development, personal theology and spiritual practice as they integrate academic learning, field work and life experience into their uniquely evolving rabbinate.
Breitman was a founding teacher of Lev Shomea, a program of Elat Chayyim/Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, the first institute to train contemporary spiritual directors in the Jewish tradition. She was instrumental in launching the Spiritual Direction program at the Rabbinical School of Boston’s Hebrew College, and later, at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, serving as supervisor, trainer and consultant at all three of its campuses. She serves as a supervisor for the Hashpa’ah program of ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
As a result of Breitman’s pioneering work, spiritual direction is now considered an essential and expected element of rabbinic formation in the liberal seminaries of the United States. Current generations of rabbis will be better able to recognize and address the pastoral and spiritual needs of others; know how to nourish and sustain their own souls as Jewish leaders during these complex and challenging times; and discern how and with whom they are called to serve as rabbis.
For more than 25 years, Breitman taught Jewish pastoral care and counseling at RRC. She formulated curricula in what was, years ago, an emerging and underdeveloped aspect of rabbinic education. She’s made ongoing contributions to what has become an established field.
Breitman served as a clinical social worker and program director at the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Philadelphia from 1979–1989 and received the Lewis Kraft award in Jewish Communal Service in 1983. For 15 years, Breitman taught advanced practice at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. She has also served as a member of the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International. A licensed clinical social worker, she has a long-standing psychotherapy and spiritual direction practice in Philadelphia.
Breitman is co-editor of Jewish Spiritual Direction: An Innovative Guide from Traditional and Contemporary Sources. Her essays in pastoral theology, pastoral care and counseling, spiritual direction and Jewish feminist theology have appeared as journal articles and as chapters in several anthologies.
Doctor of Humane Letters
RRC awards the Doctor of Humane Letters to a communal leader or scholar who is distinguished in the pursuit of Reconstructionist ideals, and has made an outstanding contribution to the Jewish community and/or to Jewish life in North America or Israel.
The 2023 honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters is awarded to Barbara Eve Breitman, D.Min.