Devon’s approach to Jewish living is traditional yet contemporary, offering up deep intentionality on a bed of the current day-to-day joys and struggles of being human.
Listening as she learns, Devon seeks out the power of personal narrative to get to the heart of how to work with others and bring out the best in each person in order to shift the individual, community, country and the whole world for good.
Here are some reflections on Devon’s professional work:
On Devon’s spiritual leadership:
“Devon is the literal embodiment of word, ‘racham’ (compassion). She is quick to love, and slow to judge. She meets all who cross her path where they are, and she seeks the lonely travellers. She is firm in her principles, steadfast in her faith, and devoted in creating a world that cares for all. Each project, organization and cause touched by Devon is blessed with her guidance and determination. In her rabbinical journey, Devon guides many through soft support, open arms, and infectious laughter.”
On Devon’s Jewish communal offerings, trainings, and facilitation:
“I could not have imagined a better liturgist-in-residence than Devon. Devon’s sessions at National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute were deeply thoughtful, well organized, and above all, accessible to everyone. Devon creates an open environment where honesty reigns, cliche is gone, and everyone can bring their full selves. As a Director of Education in a progressive synagogue, it’s not often that I get to do my own learning in such a comfortable, fun, and open environment … Not only is Devon an excellent writer/thinker, but also a master facilitator … I am already thinking about how I will continue to learn from Devon, and where else in my programming I can invite her/them to be a guest speaker/artist/leader.”
On Devon’s mentorship/example:
“Devon and I were both at a Wominyan Jewish women’s retreat this past July (2019). There, Devon led an incredibly creative, enriching and cathartic workshop that embodied memory-reaching, personal exploration and the process of ‘letting go.’ Devon was incredibly successful in leading our group and with steadfast efforts created an environment free of judgment or shame- rather full of warmth and safety. At the time of our session, I happened to be experiencing a personal setback and felt hopeless. Recognizing my despair amongst the crowd, she approached me and talked me through this time … She is the person I needed most during this time and yet we had never met prior. For that, I am profoundly thankful. Through empathy and gentle but clear guidance, Devon exudes true leadership. She is a blessing.”
On Devon’s lived theology:
“A profound knowledge of her religious tradition in its modern context is the foundation of Devon Spier’s personal qualities and professional qualifications. As a student and teacher, she knows how to illuminate seemingly inscrutable and archaic sources by making ancient words relevant for contemporary concerns.
She creatively and passionately ‘drops knowledge’ of rabbinics paired with popular culture through social media and online outlets.
She is an open and approachable person who easily relates to people of all ages with verve and wit. All of her efforts emanate from an unconditional love and commitment to improving local and global relationships. By contributing tremendous energy and conviction, she is a tremendous asset to any organization.”
On Devon’s non-profit leadership:
“Devon has that rare combination of being able to shape and deliver community-based programming in an inclusive, respective, truly collaborative way, while still being able to understand and provide leadership on the broader administrative and strategic objectives of the organization. Her passion, dedication, resourcefulness, and resilience are inspiring. And quite frankly, she’s just one of the most authentic people I’ve ever worked with.”
On Devon’s Jewish communal leadership:
“Devon Spier has represented a burst of positive energy in our community. She has contributed to our synagogue and the wider communities in multiple ways, including spearheading social action projects (including our successful sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family), organizing a youth group, leading services and taking a lead role in High Holy Day music. I have participated with her in a number of these initiatives and she has unfailingly been a pleasure to work with. She will bring the same energy and talent to any community she serves.”
On Devon’s approach to Jewish education:
“Devon was kind and lovely to work with – and understanding of the other things going on in my daughters life and worked hard to work around our schedule to make things happen! Devon worked hard to prepare ahead of time, and put in the extra effort to send recordings of herself for my daughter to use to practice in between lessons. This was extremely helpful and really kept the learning moving at a fast pace!
An added priceless bonus is Devon’s lovely voice! She sings like an angel – when I hear that she is leading services at our Temple, I make a special point to attend – as it is so beautiful to listen to her heartfelt tunes and pray with Devon.”
On Devon’s way of teaching Judaism:
“I had the privilege of participating in Devon’s workshop at Limmud Toronto 2017 called: ‘Creating Community: (Re)Inventing Rituals for the Contemporary Jewish Life Span.’ … What Devon does goes beyond teaching: she guided us through a process of learning and exploring individually, in pairs, and as a group, while gently ensuring that the discussion remained on topic and relevant to the subject matter … Devon’s approach is not to show or to tell, but to encourage each participant to examine what Judaism in general – and the text in particular – means to each of us.”
On Devon’s writing:
“Much of the available content for haggadot that’s out there is antiquated, traditionalist, or on some level exclusionary – very much not what we were interested in for our seder experience. However, several pieces of Devon’s writing were absolutely perfect for us as my partner and I sought to craft a vibrant, unique haggadah to guide us into a progressive, inclusive, and welcoming Pesach. The readings that we selected from past work of Devon’s helped us to strike a considered balance between traditional Jewish ritual and practice on the one hand, and a truly personal Judaism grounded in the present moment.”
On Devon’s prayers:
“I often find that ‘traditional’ liturgy is sexist or otherwise problematic, and a lot of it doesn’t reflect my personal theology. When I read your poetry, it feels like God is listening to my heart in that moment. Reading your words makes me feel heard. And that is what prayer is meant to be.”
On Devon’s role in shaping Jewish tradition:
“I want writing that is urgent. I want writing that presents an unsolvable mess and leaves my brain picking up the pieces. Don’t tell me how to get out of the mess! No wrapping it up with a bow, giving me answers, or going easy on me. I wish more people would write about the Texts of Judaism the way Devon Spier did in her poems for our last issue.'”
For more on Devon’s leadership and experience as well as a list of references, please visit: