Center for Spiritual Direction

Center for Spiritual Direction 1  A new initiative at Congregation Beth Israel is our Center for Spiritual Direction. Unique to any synagogue in Texas, this Center will be part of a new and exciting dimension of American Jewish life known as Spiritual Direction, which aims to help us heal, grow, and experience ourselves in
relationship to God or a transcendent reality.  

Beth Israel’s Center for Spiritual Direction will be led by Dr. Thomas Cole, a vested Jewish Spiritual Director, author, filmmaker, and Professor of Medical Humanities at UT’s McGovern Medical School in Houston. Rabbi David Lyon and Rabbi Adrienne Scott will work closely with Tom, to help identify support groups, discussion topics, and avenues to accomplish the mission of the Center for Spiritual Direction. 

The Center has two main goals: (1) to support those who are suffering, grieving, or addressing life’s transitional moments; and (2) to inspire and encourage those seeking guidance on their own spiritual journeys.  We will accomplish these goals through congregational talks, confidential individual meetings, group sessions, and workshops.  

Jewish Spiritual Direction is a form of helping individuals find their own way in the search for God or ultimate meaning, not so that we can believe in someone else’s version of God, but so that we can experience–however fleetingly, a taste of heaven, a feeling of warmth and light, and a reminder that we are loved as well as commanded.   

Whether the search begins from pain or in a vague sense that something is missing in one’s life, it requires gentle direction through the landscape of every day to the elusive experience of the sacred.  Beth Israel’s Center for Spiritual Direction will offer this direction and guidance. 

Dr. Cole is available for confidential individual meetings.  You may contact him at  For more information, please watch for emails, invitations, and Bulletins on upcoming talks and workshops.   Dr. Cole is a vested Jewish Spiritual Director.  He is a Professor of Medical Humanities at the McGovern Medical School in Houston, with expertise in ethics,compassionate care, and sacred aging. Tom is also a filmmaker and author, whose book The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  His most recent book is Old Man Country: My Search for Meaning Among the Elders which has a chapter devoted to his conversations with our beloved Rabbi Samuel E. Karffz”l.

Dr. Cole is a long-time member of our Congregation. His children became B’nei Mitzvah and were confirmed at Beth Israel. He is honored and delighted to become the first Director of Beth Israel’s Center for Spiritual Direction.   

The Center for Spiritual Direction is underwritten by a grant from the
Shirley and David Toomim Family Foundation.

Workshop: Living with Chronic Illness

Living with Chronic Illness Virtual Meetings:  7:00 P.M. on October 12,19,26 and November 2,9 Do you have a condition that won’t ever go

Grief Group

Grief Group Virtual Meetings at 12:00 P.M. November 15,22,29 and December 6 After a funeral and shiva, many of us feel lost as

Psychological/ Spiritual Counseling

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dr. Cole will offer 45-minute private sessions in person at the Temple or on Zoom.  For more information or