Lizzi Heydemann catalyzed the founding of Mishkan Chicago in September of 2011. She graduated with Honors from Stanford University, and was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles in 2010. Her first job out of school was as the first Revson Rabbinic Fellow at IKAR in Los Angeles. Mishkan contains the DNA of IKAR in Los Angeles, B’nai Jeshurun in New York, and the ecstatic, musical and meditative Jewish tradition that emerged out of South America to give rise to that approach here in the States.
Selected for the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Award in 2013 for promising early-career educators, Lizzi was a 2013 ROI Fellow, and was in the 2012 cohort of CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders fellowship. Lizzi was on Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis of 2013 list, was named one of Chicago’s 36 Under 36 by OyChicago, and one of the Top 20 Real Rabbis by myjewishlearning.org, both in 2012.
Lizzi grew up on the South Side of Chicago, attended K.A.M. Isaiah Israel, and went to Lab and graduated from U-High in 1999. She graduated from Stanford University with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy, writing her honors thesis with Professor Arnold Eisen on the post-modern mystical theology of Rabbi Arthur Green. Interested in creating spiritual experiences that integrate the spirit, body and mind, that meld music and harmony with intellectual rigor, Lizzi has studied Buddhism and every flavor of Judaism. She developed and performed music with the Nava Tehila Levites in Jerusalem, and the IKARDavening Team in Los Angeles, has worked closely with the Jewish Farm School, the American Jewish World Service, Hazon, and Avodah, all organizations doing transformational work in the realms of environmental sustainability, local and global human rights.
When Lizzi returned to Chicago in Summer of 2011, she realized that Chicago lacked what Los Angeles and New York have become known for: young, dynamic spiritual communities that resonate with the next generation, as well as people who have felt on the fringes of the Jewish community: queer Jews, people in interfaith relationships, spiritual seekers, Jews of color, Jews by choice. Mishkan was born out of, and seeks to fill, this gap on Chicago’s spiritual landscape. If we’re doing our job right, you will walk out of an experience at Mishkan knowing that Judaism is alive with Spirit, connection, spiritual and intellectual challenge, and moral awakening.