High Holy Days

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann

Rabbi and Founder

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann is the founder of Mishkan Chicago, an independent spiritual community in Chicago whose mission is to lead people toward greater purpose, connection and inspiration through dynamic experiences of Jewish prayer, learning and community building. At Mishkan we create Jewish spaces to bring your whole self to something larger than yourself and when we come together across the spectrum of background, age and identity, we breathe new life into Judaism. Since its founding in 2011, Mishkan has grown to serve 670 households with 10% tuning in from outside Chicago and 175 kids in our Mensch Academy and Cohen Kadima Teen programs. She is one of a dozen people married to someone they met at Mishkan, and Lizzi and Henry’s children are growing up in a community where Judaism pulsates with joy, harmony, justice and love.

The Backstory

Rabbi Lizzi was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, attended K.A.M. Isaiah Israel, went to Lab, and graduated from U-High in 1999. She went on to graduate with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Stanford University, and was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, writing her honors thesis with Professor Arnold Eisen on the post-modern mystical theology of Rabbi Arthur Green. She was the first rabbinic fellow at IKAR in Los Angeles and is one of the founding rabbis of the Jewish Emergent Network, a network of 7 national path-breaking communities reimagining Judaism for the next generation. 

Interested in creating spiritual experiences that integrate the spirit, body, and mind, and 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 IKAR Davening Team in Los Angeles, has worked closely with organizations including the Jewish Farm School, the American Jewish World Service, Hazon, and Avodah, as well as other organizations doing work in the realms of environmental sustainability, and 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.

Get to know R’Lizzi through her podcast, Contact Chai, exploring down-to-earth spiritual practice in conversation.

Learn more about Rabbi Lizzi and Mishkan’s founding on this episode of Judaism Unbound.