Shavuot Retreat: Remembering Reb Zalman’s Torah of the Future

May 22, 2015 - May 26, 2015

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

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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 זצ׳ל

This year, we Remember the Torah of the Future – the legacy of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל for all of us to discover. Join us for an immersive holiday experience unlike any other.

presented by Elat Chayyim in partnership with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Rimon Resource Center for Jewish Spirituality, Beacon Hebrew Alliance, and Kol Hai: Hudson Valley Jewish Renewal

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  • Featuring Rebbetzin Eve Ilsen and many students of Reb Zalman, זצ׳ל

  • Kosher and eco-friendly farm-to-table feasts

  • Parade for First-Fruits/Bikkurim with Adamah and the Goats

  • Camp Teva for Kids – Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Fun!

  • All-night vigil with chanting, meditation, text study and more

  • Daybreak outdoor musical Torah service

  • Enjoy the beauty of spring at Isabella Freedman

  • Midnight hike to the top of the mountain

  • Kosher artisanal cheese tasting and cheesemaking workshop

  • Daily meditation and Torah Yoga

  • Darshan performance and teaching
  • All-inclusive prices start as low as $127.50 per night (need-based financial aid is available) Register by April 24th and save 10% with code EARLY10

Eve Ilsen

Rebbetzin 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 of blessed memory, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi זצ׳ל, 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.

Rabbi Shir Yaakov is a teacher, singer, composer, designer, producer, and “aba” (Dad). He is the leader of an emerging spiritual community in the Hudson Valley, Kol Hai. In addition, he is a lead teacher in DLTI, and 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. shiryaakov.com

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. avivachernick.com

Brent Spodek
Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek is the rabbi at Beacon Hebrew Alliance. Before that, he served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. He has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, and by Newsweek/The Daily Beast as “a rabbi to watch.” Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a masters in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children, Noa and Abraham. A selection of Brent’s teachings are available here.

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 Theological School. 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.

Rachel Dewan
 Rachel Dewan, Certified Anusara Teacher, E-RYT500, 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: shreeyogathemes.blogspot.com.


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.

Arthur Kurzweil
Arthur Kurzweil is the leader of the Talmud Circle Institute, and a master teacher of Jewish spirituality. His own personal quest eventually led him to explore his spiritual identity, which resulted in his seminal book on Jewish genealogical research, the classic best seller From Generation to Generation. Realizing that there were relatively few serious Jewish books available to the English language reader, Arthur Kurzweil developed what has been described as a visionary plan to transform the experience of the Jewish seeker looking for nourishing Jewish books.

Arthur is the author of On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom. The book is Arthur’s spiritual memoir about his experiences as a student and chauffeur for one of the great Jewish leaders of our time, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Arthur is also the author of Pebbles of Wisdom from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (2009), a collection of teachings on a wide range of subjects by Rabbi Steinsaltz.

Arthur was approached by the famous “for Dummies” series, who invited him to write Kabbalah for Dummies, based on his serious private studies with some of the leading authorities in the field of Kabbalah, and because of Arthur’s reputation as a teacher who is able to explain difficult spiritual concepts in down to earth, accessible language. Arthur is also the author of The Torah for Dummies.

Arthur has had a lifelong passion for books. Trained as a professional librarian, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Book Club for 17 years, past president of the Jewish Book Council, Judaica acquisitions editor and literary agent, Arthur Kurzweil came to a personal conclusion that the ultimate book for him is the one often described as the cornerstone of Jewish culture, the Talmud.

With the guidance of his teacher, the renowned Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Arthur Kurzweil has inspired many people across the United States to discover and get entangled with the Talmud. As the Coordinator of the Talmud Circle Project, under the direction of Rabbi Steinsaltz, Arthur Kurzweil’s mission has been to introduce the Talmud to Jewish spiritual seekers. He has been the catalyst for many individuals as well as synagogue groups who now study Talmud regularly.

Arthur Kurzweil is also an accomplished magician. A member of the Society of American Magicians (founded by Harry Houdini) as well as a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Arthur Kurzweil blends his spiritual interests with magical effects, adding his own insights and weaving together an enchanting presentation for his audiences.

Eden Headshot 2015

Eden ‘ePRHYME’ Pearlstein is a recording, performing and ritual artist, whose Hip Hop inflected music and poetry is “an uncompromising blend of urban forms and Neo-Hasidic spirituality” (The Forward).  As a founding member of The Darshan Project, along with Reb Shir Yaakov and Basya Schechter (Pharaoh’s Daughter), Eden’s work weaves together deep Jewish teaching and tradition with contemporary creative process in an exciting new form of musical midrash. Eden holds 2 Master’s Degrees from JTS, one in Experiential Education and the other in Jewish Thought and Philosophy.

Shoshana Knapp Headshot

 Rav Shoshana Mitrani Knapp is founder of Makom Shalom, a Jewish Renewal Community in Northern Westchester. She is a graduate of JTS, of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Kol Zimra Chant Leadership training, IJS’s Jewish Spirituality Institute, and is CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. She lives in Chappaqua NY with her husband Fred and their two grown children Helaine and Josh live in NYC.

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 z”l and his students 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 in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל, 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.

register now

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 $550 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 860.24.5991 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 860.24.5991 x0.

We strive to make our programs affordable to everyone.

Click here for information about Financial Aid. »
Hazon is committed to making our Transformative Experiences financially accessible to as many people as possible. We believe that participation in these kinds of events are a core feature of a healthy and sustainable Jewish community in the 21st century. Please note that in our efforts to provide access to our events, we must balance our ability to meet individual requests with our ability to spread our resources among as many participants as possible. You can help support us in this endeavor by considering your request carefully. Financial aid is awarded on a rolling basis. Applications must be received at least two weeks prior to the start date of the event. Please submit your financial aid application prior to registering. If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar at registrar@hazon.org or (860) 824-5991 x0.


apply for financial aid

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

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

The 7-week period between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot is called the Omer. For each of these 7 weeks, we will be making available one offering per week from 7 leaders of our upcoming Shavuot retreat. Join us Memorial Day weekend for the Shavuot retreat to go deeper and get higher with these wonderful teachers. (Use discount code EARLY10 through April 24th for 10% off.) In the meantime, enjoy our Omer experience!


Special Recent Posts

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Omer Week Five: Olam Shana Nefesh

May 4th, 2015

Wisdom from Rabbi Shir Yaakov Videography by Deana Morenoff and Michael Arginsky Rabbi Shir Yaakov is a teacher, singer, composer, designer, producer, and “aba” (Dad). He is the leader of an emerging spiritual community in the Hudson Valley, Kol Hai. In addition, he[...]

Omer Week Four: Here's to Life

Omer Week Four: Here's to Life

April 28th, 2015

Wisdom from Rebbetzin Eve Ilsen Videography by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Rebbetzin Eve Ilsen is our featured teacher for this year's Shavuot retreat. For the past decade she and her late husband Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi זצ׳ל built this retreat into[...]

Omer Week Three: Embodied Tiferet

Omer Week Three: Embodied Tiferet

April 21st, 2015

Wisdom from Rachel Dewan, Certified Anusara Teacher, E-RYT500 Videography by Deana Morenoff and Michael Arginsky   Rachel Dewan, Certified Anusara Teacher, E-RYT500 , is a graduate of the Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training.  and in addition to a full schedule of yoga[...]

Omer Week Two: Receiving the Torah

Omer Week Two: Receiving the Torah

April 14th, 2015

Wisdom from Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek Videography by Deana Morenoff and Michael Arginsky   Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek is the rabbi at Beacon Hebrew Alliance. Before that, he served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T.[...]

Omer Week One: Adon Olam

Omer Week One: Adon Olam

April 4th, 2015

Traditional Yemenite melody with original music by Aviva Chernick and Joel Schwartz Filmed at the Small World Music Centre, Toronto, Canada Videography by Rodrigo Castro The 7-week period between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot is called the Omer. For each of these[...]

Friday May 22nd

  • 2-5pm  – Arrival & Check In
  • Mikvah and/or Torah Yoga
  • Orientation to Camp Teva (for Parents & Kids) *
  • Opening the Retreat & Candlelighting
  • Musical Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv Prayers
  • Festive Kiddush & Shabbat Dinner
  • Mishpacha Groups
  • Oneg Shabbat Tisch – Singing & Stories

Shabbat Saturday May 23rd

  • Torah Yoga OR Jewish Meditation OR Goat Milking
  • Breakfast
  • Musical Shabbat Morning Service
  • Torah Study OR Outdoor Experience
  • Festive Kiddush & Shabbat Lunch
  • Farm Tours
  • Learning in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל
  • Mishpacha Groups
  • Musical Shalosh Shudes OR Torah Yoga
  • Dinner
  • Bringing in Shavuot
  • Havdallah & Candlelighting for Shavuot
  • Musical Shavuot Ma’ariv
  • Kiddush & Cheesecake Feast
  • 10pm-5am Tikkun Leil Shavuot – All Night Learning in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל

Shavuot Day 1 – Sunday May 24th

  • 5am – Welcoming Revelation: Musical Prayer & Torah Service Lakeside
  • Communal Kiddush and Festive Meal
  • Rest OR Camp Teva for Kids
  • First Fruits Bikkurim Study and preparation for Parade
  • Hikes, Farm Tours, Torah Yoga
  • Festive Holiday Lunch
  • Mishpacha Groups
  • Learning in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל Sessions
  • Musical Minchah Prayers OR Torah Yoga
  • Dinner
  • Candlelighting & Kiddush for Shavuot Day 2
  • Learning in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל OR Night Hike OR Bonfire

Shavuot Day 2 – Monday May 25th

  • Torah Yoga OR Jewish Meditation OR Goat Milking
  • Breakfast
  • Musical Holiday Morning Service
  • Bikkurim Parade with Goats and First Fruits Ritual
  • Adamah First Fruits Lavish Kiddush
  • Festive Holiday Lunch
  • Farm Tours OR Hike
  • Learning in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל
  • Mishpacha Groups
  • Musical Minchah OR Torah Yoga
  • Dinner
  • Havdallah – Farewell Shavuot!
  • Darshan Performance & Community Offerings

Tuesday May 26th

  • Torah Yoga OR Jewish Meditation OR Goat Milking
  • Light Breakfast
  • Davenology Morning Service in memory of Reb Zalman זצ׳ל
  • Mishpacha Groups
  • Brunch
  • Retreat Closing
  • Adamah Farmer’s Market

* Camp Teva is for kids ages 5-12 (younger kids with adult companion welcome) and runs arrival day in the evening, and then between breakfast & lunch, and lunch & dinner daily. Detailed schedule will be available for upon check in.