Devon Spier is a writer, educator and artistic creator, who studies rabbinics at the Academy for Jewish Religion (NY).
Devon attended the University of Waterloo, where she received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies.
A recognized change maker and compassion catalyst, she has spent over two decades in the non-profit sector, from local neighbourhoods, to JCCs, Jewish day camps to human rights boards, theatres to grassroots women’s groups, to most recently, the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.
Devon’s work in Canadian civil society has involved re-imagining relationships between Jews and Muslims and has also tied together unlikely partners in the private and public sectors to create community-based solutions to food insecurity and racism.
Among many strides for anti-racism, these campaigns have resulted in the acceptance of the first Muslim cemetery in Montreal, Quebec and the passing of a Day of Action commemorating the Montreal Mosque terrorist attack in the Ontario Legislature.
In the Canadian non-profit sphere, she has worked in cooperation with local neighbourhood and municipal stakeholders to successfully create the first Halal breakfast program in Canada.
She has also collaborated with student entrepreneurs, municipal leaders, a local farmer’s market and Food Bank to re-purpose food waste and change the approach to food insecurity in a mid-sized Canadian city.
Locating strength in difference , Devon designed and implemented a multi-faith Peace Camp in a Christian-university college. For her vision on courageous encounters that bring together the most unlikely peacemakers, Peace Camp received a prestigious grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation that has grown the camp to provide peace education training for Canadian students each year.
Devon’s work is also notable in the Jewish community, where has worked with nearly every mainstream movement, network and denomination of Judaism to offer candid and personalized explorations of health, well-being, trauma, recovery, multiple identities and belonging through her contemporary liturgical poetry.
She is the most published author on Ritualwell.org and her work has been consulted and published by the London School for Jewish Studies, the Reconstructionist Judaism movement, Jewish Women’s Archives, Hevria and Jewcer: The Leading Crowdfunding Platform for Jewish Causes. Her Jewish rituals, poems and artistic programming have also been selected for use by Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Ruderman Family Foundation, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, NewCAJE, The Howard Grinspoon Foundation, The Jewish Artists’ Laboratory in Boston, the Orot Centre for New Jewish Learning in Chicago and most recently, the City Museum of New York, BAYIT and Ben Yehuda Press.
Prior to rabbinical school, Devon worked as a songleader, day camp educator and teacher at URJ Kutz Camp, Camp Newman and Hadassah Neurim in Israel.
For her community development, Devon has been honoured with peacebuilding awards from the YMCA and Interfaith Grand River as well the Outstanding Achievement Award and Peter C. and Elisabeth Williams Memorial Scholarship, from the departments of Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Waterloo.
In 2018, she was selected as the first Canadian rabbinic student to participate in the T’ruah Rabbinic and Cantorial Summer Fellowship in Human Rights. She also served as a Religion and Public Life Rabbinic Fellow with Join for Justice: The Jewish Organizing & Training Network and a Scholar-in-Residence with the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.
Devon was blessed to spend summer 2018 as an intern with the Women’s Prison Association, the oldest advocacy association for women in the United States. She was also recognized by the Ontario Government as a recipient of the “Leading Women, Building Communities” award, which recognizes women who break down barriers for other women.
In 2019, Devon was selected as one of 25 global Jewish women to participate in the Wominyan leadership program, which works to leverage the intersections of Jewish women’s identities for the progress of Jewish women everywhere.
“Heart Map and the Song of Our Ancestors” is Devon’s first book and a bestseller.