Rishe Groner grew up in a Chabad community in Melbourne, Australia, where she remembers having to compartmentalize her Jewish life from her yearning for empowered self-expression.
“I was so scared of everything,” she said. “I could walk into a boardroom and give a presentation about their business revenue models, and I could sit at a Shabbos table and argue with some guy over whiskey, but I couldn’t be honest and genuine and comfortable with myself.”
When she moved to New York and went to Burning Man for her 30th birthday, Groner experienced a “massive shift.”
“When I went to Burning Man I had a very intense experience of letting go … and realizing that there was capacity for leadership that I didn’t think that I had,” she said. “Part of that was recognizing that there’s a huge amount in Judaism that was so essential to me and who I am that could be fused with all the other things that I was discovering as spiritual tools and practices — and that those things come from Judaism too.”
A fierce advocate for women’s empowerment in Jewish life, she founded The GeneSis Project, an online community dedicated to reclaiming the Divine feminine.
Before she returns for her second year of studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s rabbinical school, Groner will spend the summer bringing her blend of spirituality and Jewish content to festivals around the world. Her wide array of educational and experiential workshops, from Torah study to meditation and movement, provide diverse points of connection for anyone doing some soul-searching. She acts as an emissary of Judaism in settings abundant in spirituality but devoid of religion, and brings lessons about mindfulness and presence back to Jewish communities — true to her Chabad roots.
“These places, these night clubs and warehouse parties and festivals, are actually an amazing place to offer Jewish content because there’s already so much spirituality available,” she said.
Finding her footing: While living in Melbourne, Groner worked as a shoe designer for Volley, an Australian shoe company.