Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Presented by Isabella Freedman and the Ethiopian National Project in partnership with Beta Israel of North America and North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
IMMERSE YOURSELF in Ethiopian Jewish Culture.
- EXPERIENCE Ethiopian Jewish ritual
- HEAR first-hand stories of the Ethiopian exodus
- LEARN about the challenges facing Ethiopians in Israel
- PARTICIPATE in Ethiopian Jewish dance, music, and craft activities
- INTERACT with Ethiopian Israeli leaders
and, of course,
- EAT savory and healthy Ethiopian food
Roni Akale is the Director-General of the Ethiopian National Project. Like thousands of others who endured the hardships of aliyah during Operation Moses, Dessie (Roni) Akale crossed Ethiopia by foot, walking 800 kilometers, then waited in Sudan until finally reaching Jerusalem in December 1983 at the age of 20. Roni obtained a BA in Social Work from Haifa University in 1990, and later went on to obtain an MA in Management and Public Policy Administration from Ben Gurion University. He holds additional training experience in the realms of educational leadership and non-profit management. Roni served as a Mental Health officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He played a critical role during Operation Solomon in May 1991, applying his personal and professional experience to assist the newcomers during this historical airlift in which 14,325 Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in 36 hours.
Roni brings rich professional experience to the role of Director-General. He was Manager of the nation-wide network ofmoked klitah service centers for immigrants on behalf of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, overseeing 21 cities and towns. He served as a family social worker in the municipality of Ashdod, and was the Director of Ethiopian Job Placement and Counseling with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. In addition, he has carried out a wide variety of volunteer roles and has served in myriad leadership positions in his rich career of aiding the Ethiopian-Israeli community with his expertise, including being elected as Chairman of the Representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Organizations in Israel between 2008 to 2010.
Roni, 48, concluded his post as the Chief Executive Officer of FIDEL Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, which he has held since 2007, to assume the role of Director-General of ENP in April 2011. Roni lives in Ashdod, is married and father of four sons.
Grace Rodnitzki, Director of International Relations at the Ethiopian National Project. Grace works closely with field workers and professionals in Israel, delving into the critical day-to-day work that they carry out so that she can spread ENP’s story. As part of her position as ENP’s Director of International Relations, Grace shares the stories of Ethiopian-Israelis with individual donors, foundations, and federations across the globe. Grace hails from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. She has felt a calling to inform others about Israel’s uniqueness since her youth when she was involved in the regional and international levels of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. Grace received a B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University in 1990, and participated in a year-long study abroad at Oxford University. After her completing her undergraduate career, Grace became a Raoul Wallenberg Fellow at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she witnessed first hand the Ethiopian airlifts of Operation Solomon and the massive Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. In 1992, Grace was invited to Australia to study and lecture as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, traveling the continent and speaking about her experiences in Israel. She returned to Israel in May of 1993, herself a new immigrant. Grace then worked for over seven years as an International Relations Associate at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Jerusalem. Grace Rodnitzki lives in Modi’in, Israel with her husband and their three children.
Qes Efraim Zion-Lawi is the son of Qes Zion Lawi, of blessed memory, and the grandson of High Qes Lawi Zeno, of blessed memory. He was born in 1987 in the Israeli city of Carmiel. His parents made aliyah to Israel in 1984’s Operation Moses, after a long and arduous journey from Ethiopia through the Sudanese desert. Qes Efraim’s father served as the spiritual leader of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Carmiel and encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps. Accordingly, at age nine Qes Efraim began the studies necessary to be ordained a qes (i.e., priest or cohen). When he turned thirteen, his father officially designated him as his future successor. Qes Zion-Lawi passed away three years later, but Qes Efraim’s mother urged him to persist with his training, sending him to study with two prominent qessotch in Israel, Qes Malke Azaria and High Qes Govesa Tesfahun, who continued to teach him the prayers, benedictions, laws, and customs of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition. After completing his military service, Qes Efraim married and was ordained as a qes. In addition to being heir to an illustrious line of qessotch, he is also the first ever Israeli-born qes. He now serves the Ethiopian Jewish community in Carmiel and its environs, teaching and facilitating the community’s traditional observances, including weddings, funerals, and memorials, as well as the ritual slaughter of animals.
Check out the schedule from last year’s Ethiopian Jewish Experience.
|3:00 – 6:00||Arrival and Check In|
|6:00 – 6:45||Orientation, Opening Circle, Candle Lighting
David Weisberg & Beejhy Barhany
|6:45 – 7:45||Ethiopian-Style Shabbat services with Rabbi Yefet Alemu|
|7:45 – 9:00||Ethiopian-style Kiddush & Shabbat Dinner
with explanations by Beejhy Barhany
|9:00 – 10:00||My Story with Ethiopian Jewry
Barbara Ribakove Gordon
|10:00 – 11:00||Exodus Stories Night Walk|
|8:30 – 9:30||Breakfast|
|9:15 – 11:45||Ethiopian-Style Shabbat Services with Rabbi Yefet Alemu|
|12:00 – 1:30||Kiddush & Shabbat Lunch|
|1:45 – 3:00||Option 1: Author Dina Ellenbogen talks about her new memoir of 25 years working with Ethiopian Jewish families|
|1:45 – 3:00||Option 2: Family Relationships in the Ethiopian Jewish Community & How They Change in Israel with Grace Rodnitzki, Roni Akale, and Yefet Alemu|
|3:15-4:30||Option 1: Jewish Holidays & Tradition in Ethiopia with Beejhy Barhany|
|3:15-4:30||Option 2: Children’s activity: Songs of Africa* with Jay Sand
*this session will include guitar playing
|4:45 – 6:00||Main Program: Challenges of Ethiopian Absorption with Barbara Ribakove Gordon & Roni Akale|
|6:30 – 7:30||Seudah Shlishit|
|7:45||Havdallah with Rabbi Yefet Alamu|
|8:00 – 10:00||Ethiopian Dance Lessons & Dance Party with Helen Cineus|
|10:00 – 11:30||Film – “Caravan 841”|
|8:00 – 9:00||Breakfast|
|9:00 – 10:15||Explorations of Jewish Africa
Len Lyons, Sidney Davis, and Jay Sand
|10:15 – 11:30||Traditional Coffee Ceremony led by Monica Ephrem & Amharic Lesson
Ethiopian Craft Market
|11:30 – 12:00||Closing Circle|
|12:00 – 1:00||Lunch|
Register 8 or more weeks in advance and use discount code EARLY15 to receive a 15% discount.
Register 4 – 7 weeks in advance and use discount code EARLY10 to receive a 10% discount.
All-inclusive rates start at $340 per person. Click the “register now” button above for information, rates, and to register online. Online registration is for full credit card payments only. If you would like to pay in installments, pay by check, or apply approved financial aid, please call 860.824.5991 x0. Please review our lodging options and rates prior to calling.
You will receive a confirmation email once you have registered and made a payment online or by phone. If you do not receive the confirmation email within 24 hours of registering, please call us at 860.824.5991 x0.
If you’re new to Isabella Freedman, check out our Frequently Asked Questions for information about where we’re located, arrival and departure times, what to bring, etc.
We strive to make our programs affordable to everyone.
Camp Teva is for kids ages 5 – 12, and runs simultaneously with retreats geared toward adults. Camp Teva combines the best of Teva’s signature Jewish environmental education with all of the opportunities provided by the Adamah Farm to create a distinctive and creative way for kids to have a fun and safe Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education experience while their parents are enjoying Hazon’s many retreats, conferences, holidays, and workshops at Isabella Freedman. A transformative experience for the whole family!
When you register kids during your event registration process, they are automatically enrolled in Camp Teva! All-inclusive kids’ rates include Camp Teva programming.