It sounds a lot like the flavor of the month at Starbucks. “Kabbalates” however, is a hybrid that synthesizes the ancient teachings of the Kabbalah with the new age fitness craze known as Pilates and in the process brings the message of Judaism into the everyday life of the Jew.
The Kabbalates concept is the brainchild of sisters Sarah Deitsch and Devorah Kaplan. Both are Chabad emissaries who work with their rabbi-husbands on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus and in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida respectively.
The sisters are actively involved in women’s programming in their communities and network almost daily to devise new and innovative educational ideas.
“The students on campus are always into what’s ‘cool’, “says Sarah Deitsch “and we’re constantly looking for Jewish programs that can tie in with the prevailing trend. Pilates is the latest exercise fad and when we offered a ten week course combining a Kabbalah class with the Pilates, it was an instant hit among students.”
Devorah Kaplan already had a Pilates instructor, Cathy Gross, as a regular student in her weekly lunch and learn class. Cathy was excited with the idea because she says that “Judaism commands us to take care of our bodies and our souls and everyone knows that Pilates can’t be done without a mind-body connection.” She also says that the Kabbalah class was so absorbing for her, she had to mentally switch into the Pilates mode. “I wanted to say to Devorah, ‘let’s just do the Kabbalah and forget the Pilates.” Another class is already under way for evenings to accommodate all the women who wish to attend.
Kaplan began her class by saying that Kabbalah cannot be properly taught in small snippets of time and that she was just ‘whetting their palates’ for more. She explained that Kabbalah reveals the connection between the different parts of the body and how they relate to one’s personal service of G-d and gave several examples. “It was a natural segue to the Pilates segment and gave everyone something profound to think about during the exercises.
Both sisters say the reason for the program’s success is that it integrates two disciplines – learning and fitness and combines them both in one hour. “It satisfies the body’s need for exercise and serves as a springboard to the soul’s need for spirituality” says Kaplan.