START HERE first if you want to know what’s new on Wellsprings of Wisdom!

Subscribe to stay connected with occasional updates from your guide.

Welcome to the Wellsprings Redesign – New Things Coming



Swan Lake with Wildflowers, Julie Danan

Swan Lake with Wildflowers, Julie Danan

Shalom, everyone! I haven’t posted since Passover. . . has anything happened?

Seriously, over the past few months, as we have all–the whole human world–been dealing with the many challenges of the COVID Pandemic, Wellsprings of Wisdom has been going through a full redesign and re-imagining. Thank you to our designer and web-mayven  Shaughn Barholle.     I hope that you enjoy the beautiful new look of the site.

Each Gateway (i.e. themed page such as “Light” or “Trees”) now has a scroll-through catalog of posts at the bottom of the page. The posts still link to the next one if you want to go in the order that I planned for that theme. Or you can just pick and choose what interests you!

Swallowtail Butterfly, Julie Danan

Swallowtail Butterfly, Julie Danan

I started Wellsprings of Wisdom as a virtual retreat center, an alternative to the noisy and sometimes negative content on the internet. Here you can explore the wisdom of nature and the nature of ancient Jewish wisdom. At first, I used a lot of photos from other people. Over the past few years I have taken up nature photography as a passionate hobby. I went from a cell phone camera to a simple fixed-lens camera, to my first mirrorless camera with three lenses, and most recently have gotten a 100-400mm lens for wildlife and bird photography. So more and more of the photography on the sight is now my own, including the home page (For other people’s photos, I always credit the sources in the posts and use with proper permissions). One of my goals is to create inspirational materials with my nature photography and to offer them through this site.

I post daily nature photos–and some inspirational messages–as @Wellsprings on Instagram, and mirror much of that content on Wellsprings of Wisdom on Facebook. Your follows and friendship will be appreciated on either platform.

Also over the past few years, I have pretty much stayed quietly in the background of this site, as “your guide.” Going forward, that role will remain,  but I will also be adding more of my own ideas and more about me as a rabbi and teacher. That’s because until now my primary job for three decades has been congregational leader (20 of those years as an ordained rabbi), and this was my personal creative, “fun” project on the side.

However, I found out this spring that, due to the recession and economic changes, my current pulpit in Westchester, New York, will continue only until Summer 2021. God willing, at that point I hope to embark on a new phase as an independent rabbi, writer, teacher, and photographer. So over this coming year, God willing, I hope to put in more about me and what i have to offer the world from my own Wellsprings of creativity: including teaching, life-cycle leading, writings, and inspirational materials made with my photos. Behind the scenes, I have also been working on self-publishing my late mother’s spiritual memoir and writing my own spiritual memoir (which of course, involves a lot about Nature).

So as we enter the New Year, I’m still busy as a congregational rabbi leading lots of services–albeit mostly on Zoom–but I will also be adding to this site. Contact me if you have ideas such as materials you would like from Wellsprings, or online courses you would like to see. I appreciate your support of Wellsprings of Wisdom over the Years, and hope to keep teaching and connecting, on line, and hopefully soon in person again.

Featured Image: Swan Lake with a crown of wildflowers, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Summer, 2020, Julie Danan

Visit the HOME PAGE to check out the new experience!

P.S. If you are reading this page in the “What’s New” Column and want to comment, click here (or click on the title) and it will take you to this individual post where you can do so.


Some Meditations for a Stressful Time

I’m posting this a few days before Passover, in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Let me take this moment to send blessings of health and safety to each and every one of you! As a rabbi, I’ve been busy getting my synagogue online and supporting my community, but I wanted to share some resources with all my Wellsprings readers, too! Here are some Wellsprings of Wisdom Posts that may be helpful right now: Some calming guided meditations: A simple Breathing Meditation AND also a more involved but every effectve: Calming Ocean Breath And here is a recent post from my @Wellsprings account on Instagram, describing two more breathing meditations that are proving very helpful to me: Simple and Spiritual Breathing Meditations
Finally, as you celebrate Passover, enjoy these Wellsprings of Wisdom posts with Inspiration from Nature for Passover. As you can see, this entire site has a brand new look, thanks to talented web designer Sean Leber-Fennessy. (Still working on a few of the technicalities but really excited about it!) I hope that this virtual retreat center will be an oasis of calm away from the news and social media, and God willing I hope to add to it for your benefit. Be well and may this Passover bring hope and redemption to our world! Featured Image: Daffodil Hill at the New York Botanical Garden, Julie Danan


Happy Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat, the New Year of Trees, is always a happy time for tree-loving @wellsprings! Tu Bishvat this year begins Sunday evening, Februrary 9, into Monday, February 10, 2020. I’ve redone the post on Tu Bishvat and you can find it here, with lots of (mostly) free resources linked at the bottom of the post. And as always, you can learn more about trees–physical and spiritual–in the Gateway of Trees. I have recently added a mystical meditation on the Tree of Life energy centers in our bodies, and also updated the pathway post on the mitzvah of planting trees, to include a link to a great new initiative for Senegal.

New Meditation Recording

In honor of Rosh Hodesh Shevat, the Hebrew month in which we will celebrate the “New Year of the Tree,” I have added a special meditation based on the way that I learned it from my teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Reb Zalman), of blessed memory. The meditation takes us through the Sephirot, or divine energy centers, in the “tree of life” within our own bodies. An accompanying chart was generously shared by my colleague and friend, Rabbi David Zaslow.

Saunter Into 2020

Nature Lovers, Julie Danan

Wellsprings of Wisdom’s last update was at the Jewish New Year. Now on January 1, 2020, I’ve added a new post to the growing Gateway of Holy Land. This Gateway is really taking shape and will soon be complete! It shows how my thinking and involvement in nature spirituality have evolved in the past couple of years. Take a look at the new post on the sacred art of sauntering in Nature, also known as Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing.

New and Expanded Posts to Get Ready for the New Year

Lakeside Ripples

Hooray! I’ve added a new post on taking outdoor walks to Let Nature Guide You Into the New Year and also expanded The King Is in the Field: A Meadow Gallery,  both in the new and expanding Gateway of Holy Land. These pathway posts will be part of Wellsprings first Webinar on Thursday, September 12, 7:30pm ET. Contact me through the contract form if you would like information on signing up for the webinar, which will also be recorded for those who can’t attend in real time.

Wellsprings’ First Webinar!

Great Egret, JHD

The King/Queen is in the Field: Let Nature Guide You Into the New Year
Join Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan, Ph.D., for a free webinar, Thursday, September 12, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern Time (US),. We will explore Hassidic and mystical teachings that connect us to nature and help us prepare our hearts for the Jewish New Year. This class is open to all spiritual seekers and will be recorded for those who can’t attend in person or who wish to watch again later (also we may schedule another session for those who live in divergent time zones).
If you would like information on signing up, please contact Wellsprings via the contact us link.

New Post! Talking to and listening to animals and nature

Deer at Rockefeller Stat Park Preserve, JHD

It’s been a while since I’ve added new content to this website, but happy to say that summer vacation has allowed me some time to continue working on the new and developing Gateway of Holy Land. Each new Gateway (content page focused on one symbol from nature) is a kind of spiritual adventure, as I’m not sure quite where the paths will lead me! The newest pathway (post) in this Gateway builds on the tradition that King Solomon could talk to the animals and plants. One of Wellspring’s  Facebook readers asked for more on that subject, which resulted in this new post on talking and (more importantly) listening to our fellow creatures.

Updated post on Rosh Hodesh in Gateway of the Moon

Waxing Crescent Moon, Niculina Archer

Waxing Crescent Moon, Niculina Archer

I’m very excited to be taking an online (live) course on the Zohar from Professor Daniel Matt, who translated this epic classic of Jewish mysticism into English. Its mystical meditations on the inner levels on the Bible often identify the Shechinah, the feminine divine presence, with the moon. That motivated me to update a post on the celebration of Rosh Hodesh, the new moon. I changed to a new featured image, a moon photo that I took myself. I also added a button link that takes to you At the Well, a new organization that uses Rosh Hodesh as a venue for women to connect with their spirituality and health. Explore the imagery and symbolism of the moon in depth, in Wellspring’s Gateway of the Moon.

Watch a new Gateway grow!


Robin, New York Botanical Garden, Julie Danan

Spring is here and new growth is everywhere! Spring comes a little slowly (but steadily) in the US Northeast. And so it is with the new Gateway of Holy Land here at Wellsprings of Wisdom. I’ve opened the Gateway and it has two posts, a Gallery of the Sea in Israel (also posted on the Gateway of the Sea), and a meditation on Natural sanctuary, which is a version of the post I recently shared on this page, from my rabbinic blog). The header for the whole Gateway of Holy Land is a photo that I took last fall at Brandeis-Bardin, an educational and retreat center that was originally built to create the atmosphere of an Israeli Kibbutz in southern California.

Keep checking back; I’ll be adding introductory content and more posts soon.

Big Chico Creek