Pedagogy of the Bridge: Shema As Our Talisman in Facing Fear, Our Walking Stick Through Life’s Hard Stuff
January 2023

Pedagogy of the Bridge: Shema As Our Talisman in Facing Fear, Our Walking Stick Through Life’s Hard Stuff

Rabbi Michelle Dardashti
Kane Street Synagogue
Shema as a mantra for facing our fears and emerging more confident, courageous and whole

Pedagogy of the Bridge explores Shema as a mantra for facing our fears and emerging more confident, courageous and whole. Through this resource, participants will learn about how Shema supports us in times of anxiety, transition and fear and engage in practices that utilize Shema as a tool for moving through trying moments in our lives. This resource’s Shema practice emerged from my development of the Narrow Bridge Project at Brown University ( It’s modeled after how Jacob meets his fears in Genesis, and has his name changed to Yisrael, “one who wrestles with the Divine.” Through listening to, wrestling with, facing and embracing his fears, Jacob comes to internalize that he need not fear, because God is present with him. This resource offers four ways to experience Shema as a tool traversing the hard stuff: a writing exercise, a breathing activity, a mindfulness practice, and a visualization experience.

Rabbi Michelle Dardashti stepped into a new role in the summer of 2022; she serves as spiritual leader of Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Dardashti came to Kane Street following nine years as Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel and Associate University Chaplain for the Jewish Community at Brown University in Providence, RI. She was ordained and received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, she is trained in Congregation Based Community Organizing, and before Brown, she served as the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan and as Director of Community Engagement at Temple Beth El in Stamford. The daughter of an American folk singer/teacher and an Iranian-born cantor, Dardashti was raised on abrand of Judaism which is multicultural, meta-denominational, musical, and global – she became a rabbi to share the gifts her parents’ eclectic Judaism afforded her: passion, hope, wonder, gratitude, empathy, responsibility and joy; she is committed to nourishing a Judaism that’s broad and deep and engaged with the world. She has spent time living and working in the Jewish community of Montevideo, Uruguay as well as four years in Jerusalem, where she was a student at the Hebrew University, a Dorot Fellow, and a volunteer and staff member at a number of NGOs working in therealms of democracy, dialogue and cross-cultural education.


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