Zalman & Eve 058

See the Sounds: Shavuot with Reb Zalman & Eve Ilsen

Jun 3, 2014 - Jun 6, 2014

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

presented in partnership with ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal and Rimon Resource Center for Jewish Spirituality ALEPH logo Rimon_logo_new2013 72dpi


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A Musical Celebration of Revelation

Shavuot is the time when the community gathers around the mountain, and makes pilgrimage to a holy place, for the ultimate transformative experience. 
—Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Shavuot is a feast for the senses – remembering the Torah’s story of our experience of Sinai, where we ‘saw the sounds’ of Revelation. Join Reb Zalman, Eve Ilsen, and friends for a holiday retreat unlike any other.



Along with Reb Zalman & Eve Ilsen, featured leaders include:

  • Shir Yaakov Feit, Aviva Chernick, & Shoshana Jedwab guiding musical tefillah-prayer
  • Rabbi Or Rose & Rabbi Jill Hammer exploring the ‘marriage’ of Humanity with the Divine
  • Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman & Soferet Rachama Seltzer celebrating the many Gifts of Torah
  • Rabbi Jay Michaelson inviting Revelation through the practice of mindfulness meditation
  • Yehudit Goldfarb & Rachel Dewan offering Otiyot Chayyot & Torah Yoga practices


  • All-Night Learning – Tikkun Leil Shavuot
  • Sunrise Shacharit Morning Prayers, on the misty shores of Lake Miriam
  • AdamahFoods “First Fruits” Farm-to-Feast Kiddush – taste the season’s first harvest from our farm!
  • Musical, Embodied communal prayer celebrating our experience of revelation, Now.
  • Deep teachings from Reb Zalman, focusing on King David’s Psalm-Songs Tehillim
  • Midnight Hike to the top of the mountain
  • Pilgrimage “Bikkurim” Parade with costumes and goats to “the Temple”
  • Kosher Artisanal Cheeses & Cheesecake
  • Daily Meditation, Yoga, and Otiyot Hayyot Hebrew Tai Chi
  • Camp Teva – Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Fun for Kids!

As always, all meals are strictly kosher and supervised, and our eruv allows for enjoyment of our entire facility in respect for all streams of Jewish observance during Shabbat and Holidays

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was ordained at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, and received his PhD at Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion. Reb Zalman remains active in the educating and training of rabbis, cantors and rabbinic pastors in his role as founding rebbe of the ALEPH Ordination Programs. He is the founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute and was “Holder of the Chair of World Wisdom” at Naropa University.


Eve Ilsen

Eve Ilsen is a psychotherapist, teacher, storyteller and singer. She has studied closely with mythologist Joseph Campbell, Eutonia bodywork founder Gerda Alexander, and trained for years in Jerusalem in waking dream and the therapeutic use of imagery with Mme. Colette Aboulker-Muscat. Since returning to the United states in 1986, Ms. Ilsen has also worked in tandem with her husband, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, co-creating the Wisdom School, co-leading workshops and partnering at holy day retreats. In 2008, she was ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor. These days, Eve is invoking transformative states by performing in concert, as a singer and a storyteller.


Shir Yaakov is a teacher, singer, composer, designer, producer, “aba” (Dad) and graduate of DLTI 7. He serves both Romemu and ALEPH as Creative Director and is well known as a stage artist and liturgist performing with The Epichorus and Darshan. Working in both Jewish and multi-faith contexts, Shir Yaakov weaves a tapestry of Kabbalistic wisdom, contemporary songwriting and deep personal spirituality to offer a spiritual cultural Judaism that is contemporary, alive, and innovative. He has recorded and released four albums of original music.

Aviva Chernick
Aviva Chernick is a singer, award winning composer, teacher and shlichat tzibur, stirring audiences’ and congregations’ hearts and voices in song and prayer. She writes, records and tours internationally, performing original devotional songs in Hebrew, Ladino and English with her Canadian Folk Music Award Nominated ensemble AVIVA and as the lead singer with two-time Juno Award-nominated world music band Jaffa Road. Aviva also facilitates prayer in several congregations in and around Toronto as well as travelling to communities across North America as a guest leader, teacher and facilitator of workshops on freeing the voice and exploring personal and communal relationships to prayer and the Divine. She is the Artistic Director of Tehilah, the newly annual symposium and celebration of prayer and the music of prayer in Toronto. Aviva brings her background in dance and yoga, her practice of mindfulness meditation as well as a love of improvisation to all of her offerings, engaging passionately in an embodied exploration of the voice in song and prayer.

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD is an author, educator, midrashist, myth-weaver and ritualist. She is the co-founder of Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Institute. She is also the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic Jewish seminary. Rabbi Hammer is the author of Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, and the co-author of The Hebrew Priestess and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Rabbi Hammer conducts workshops on ancient and contemporary midrash, bibliodrama, creative ritual, kabbalah, Jewish dreamwork, and Jewish cycles of time. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Shoshana Jedwab is a prize-winning Jewish educator and the Jewish Studies Coordinator at the A.J. Heschel Middle School in New York City. She is the founding facilitator of the Makom Drum Circle at the JCC in Manhattan and is a percussionist and performance artist who has trained in bibliodrama and psychodrama. Shoshana has provided empowering drum circles to singles, student, training and bereavement groups. Shoshana has performed with Storahtelling, Chana Rothman, Debbie Friedman, Akiva Wharton, A Song of Solomon, Hebrew Mystical Chant with the Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn, and seasonal events. She is Kohenet’s ritual drummer and also serves on the Kohenet faculty.

Rabbi Or Rose
Rabbi Or Rose is the founding Director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College (HC). He also serves as Co-Director of CIRCLE: The Center for Inter-Religious & Communal Leadership Education, a joint venture of HC and Andover Newton TheologicalSchool. Rabbi Rose is the author or editor of several articles and books on Jewish spirituality, social justice, and interfaith cooperation. He recently co-edited Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections (Jewish Lights, 2011), and My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Inter-Religious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis, 2012). Rabbi Rose is editor of “On Scripture – The Torah,” a weekly Jewish commentary appearing on the Huffington Post, and a member of the advisory committee of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. He is currently completing his doctorate at Brandeis University with a thesis on the famed Hasidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev.

Jay Michaelson
Dr. Jay Michaelson is the author of five books, including Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment (North Atlantic, 2013) and Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism (Shambhala, 2009). He has been included on the Forward 50 list of influential American Jews and The Advocate’s list of leading LGBT religious leaders. Dr. Michaelson holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a B.A. from Columbia, as well as nondenominational rabbinic ordination from Rabbi David Cooper. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Brown University. Jay has taught contemplative practice at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, Omega, Kripalu, and New York Insight, and was designated by Rabbi Cooper to be his successor in his popular Jewish meditation retreats. Jay’s contemplative journey includes twenty years as a student and teacher of Kabbalah and twelve years in the dharma, including several long-term retreats in the United States and Nepal.

Rachel Dewan
 Rachel Dewan, Anusara-Inspired E-RYT, is a graduate of the Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training.  and in addition to a full schedule of yoga classes, has been teaching Yoga Teacher Trainings, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Trainings, Yoga Therapeutics, and a wide variety of workshops since 2004. She has studied many different yoga styles and regularly immerses herself in a range of both Jewish and yogic texts and practices.  It is Rachel’s ultimate goal as a teacher to cultivate a sense of community in her classes, bring a sense of fullness and joy to her students by inspiring them to expand to their highest possible potential both on and off the mat, and helping them to strengthen their connection to their own unique and divine nature.   Her classes infuse dynamic asana and skillful pranayama (breathwork) and meditation,  interwoven with deep teachings of the heart and spirit, designed to awaken the deepest longing of the soul to connect with it’s Source. Read Rachel’s thoughts on yoga and life here:


Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman
Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman, MSW is the founder and Executive Director of Rimon: Resource Center for Jewish Spirituality, where she teaches classes in Jewish mysticism, offers compelling, spiritually-based interfaith programs, soulful and contemplative Shabbat/holiday programs and runs a community wide Hevra Kadisha. Rabba Kaya has taught at synagogues throughout the Northeast, Simon’s Rock College of Bard, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and Limmud Boston. Her central focus is the reclaiming of ancient Jewish spiritual wisdom and its transmission for contemporary sensibilities and practical application. Prior to work in the Jewish community, Rabba Kaya worked as a Clinical Social Worker and as a Professional Feng Shui Consultant, having trained with several Feng Shui Masters. Her senior thesis re-envisions synagogue space based on an understanding of ancient universal principles of sacred space applied to the design of the wilderness Tabernacle. Rabba Kaya was ordained at The Academy for Jewish Religion- a non-denominational, pluralistic seminary- and holds an MSW from New York University.


ALEPH logo

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal is the headquarters organization for the Jewish Renewal Movement. Combining ancient and modern Jewish wisdom, integrating our devotional and mystical traditions with a progressive, egalitarian consciousness, Jewish renewal creates a deeply meaningful Jewish way to connect with the Divine through meditation, prayer, music, chant, dance, study and spiritually rooted social action. To support this movement, ALEPH trains, ordains and sustains the professional and lay leaders, scholars and activists of 21st century Judaism, supports 45 affiliated communities around the world, and is home to a seminary with over 85 rabbinic, cantorial, rabbinic pastor and spiritual director students. ALEPH produces the largest Jewish Renewal retreats in the world-the biennial Kallah and Ruach HaAretz. It is home to several two-year training programs including CDEEP’s Kol Zimra, Sageing and the Wisdom School. ALEPH publishes siddurim, CDs, DVDs, books and tracts by Jewish Renewal greats like ALEPH’s founder, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as well as offering newsletters, email discussion lists and distance learning programs. Finally, ALEPH pursues justice through long term projects and coalitions that promote eco-kashrut, peace in Israel and Palestine, human rights, GLBT rights, interfaith dialogue and celebration and more.

Jewish Renewal practices at Shavuot: Context and Details

We are thrilled to welcome leading renewers of Judaism today to Isabella Freedman for Shavuot. Reb Zalman and his students have worked tirelessly for decades to build a Jewish Renewal movement that:

  • infuses ancient Jewish wisdom with a modern socially progressive consciousness;
  • is joyous, participatory, spiritually substantial, profound and engaging;
  • re-imagines practices such as meditation, sacred chant, embodied prayer, healing services, eco-kashrut, transformative ritual, music, and the renewed study of traditional texts;
  • is fiercely and lovingly egalitarian, vigilant in devotion to righteousness in social and political causes, passionate about learning, and holistic in our understanding of the interconnectedness of mind and body, earth ecosystems and human welfare, and the contribution of all religious traditions to gobal well-being;
  • embraces the use of instrumental music as a spiritual tool on Shabbat and Holidays;
  • employs consistent electronic amplification in order to increase access to prayer for all participants during all services; and
  • is committed to holding space for an egalitarian prayer community that includes all genders and often inspiration from the spiritual paths of the rest of our human family while remaining rooted in Jewish tradition and practice.


Registration has closed for this event.


All-inclusive rates start at $635 per person. Click the “register now” button above for information, room 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 800.398.2630 x4. Please review our lodging options and rates prior to calling.

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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.

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.

more information about camp teva

Rent a bike for the duration of your stay with us! Great to get around campus or to take advantage of the beauty of spring in the Berkshires. Includes Cypress Giant Hybrid bike, helmet, and maps of local routes.  Sign up for a bike through our general registration or click here if you have already registered. Questions? Email

Ahhhh…Shavuot. The Jewish holiday that commemorates when Jews received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The holiday that celebrates the first fruits of the season. And the (only?) Jewish holiday where vegetarians don’t feel marginalized by a table crammed with meat-heavy dishes.

Shavuot also coincides with the annual wheat harvest in Israel, and in the days of the Temple, ancient Jews would bring their first fruits as sacrifices to God. In this time of bounty we are encouraged to give of ourselves and reflect on the gifts that the earth provides.

Click the button below for Shavuot resources including ideas for activities and rituals, recipes, and sustainability tips.

shavuot resources