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 Chicago has grown to serve 650 households with over 13% of households tuning in from outside of Chicago and 130 kids in Mensch Academy, Mishkan’s religious school.
Rabbi Lizzi was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, and graduated with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Stanford University, and was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. 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. 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.
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 IKAR Davening Team in Los Angeles, has worked closely with organizations including the Jewish Farm School, the American Jewish World Service, Hazon, and Avodah, and other organizations doing 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.
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.