Shavuot Retreat

Jun 10, 2016 - Jun 13, 2016

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

register now

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

Join us for an immersive holiday experience unlike any other.

Produced in partnership with ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

The JOFEE Network Gathering takes place June 6 – 9th. Join top-notch educators and exceptional professionals working in Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) organizations and then stay for Shavuot!


The Shavuot Retreat is now sold out. We hope to see you here for Shavuot 2017!


  • 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

  • Beautiful havdallah and closing ceremony Monday night

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.

Shir Yaakov Feit 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 David Evan Markus is co-chair of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, co-rabbi of Temple Beth-El of City Island (New York City, NY), and faculty in spiritual direction and rabbinics in the ALEPH Ordination Programs. A fellow of Rabbis Without Borders and blogger for My Jewish Learning and The Jewish Studio, Rabbi David is widely published in Jewish life, liturgy and spiritual formation.  By day, Rabbi David presides as judicial referee in New York Supreme Court as part of a parallel career in government service.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat holds an MFA from Bennington and rabbinic ordination from ALEPH. She is co-chair of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. A Rabbis Without Borders fellow, she has blogged since 2003 as The Velveteen Rabbi. She is author of three books of poetry, 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia, 2011),Waiting to Unfold (Phoenicia, 2013) and the forthcoming Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016) as well as several poetry chapbooks. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, among themThe Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, andLilith. She serves Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, Massachusetts.

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.

Rabbi Jill Hammer
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 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.

Jay Michaelson
Rabbi 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.

Eden Pearlstein (aka ePRHYME) is a recording, performing and ritual artist, author, and educator. 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 creative process in a form of musical midrash and contemporary pietistic poetry. Eden holds 2 Master’s Degrees from JTS, one in Experiential Education and the other in Jewish Thought and Philosophy. 

Pesach Dahvid Stadlin is a servant of creator and creation and a full time rabbinical student in Jerusalem. He is a founding member and the spiritual director of Eden Village Camp and he worked for the Elijah Board of world religious leaders for many years. He is a Jerusalem Peace Maker, a song leader, and a spiritual wilderness guide who worked for the Teva learning alliance for many years. He recently published his adventures and insights in his first book, Sustainable Bliss a Paradigm Shift.www.PesachStadlin.com.

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

All-inclusive rates start at $570 per person. Click the “register now” button above for information, room rates, and to register online. The retreat will end with a closing ceremony on Monday night. Guests are welcome to stay over Monday night at no extra charge. Brunch will be served on Tuesday!

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. »
Thanks to a generous donation, the Tamar Fund was created to allow a select number of individuals to pay a discounted registration fee. The Tamar Fund is in loving memory of Tamar Bittelman z”l who attended the Hazon Food Conference in Davis, California in 2011. Torah, Jewish community, ecology, and DIY food were values that Tamar held dear in her own life, and she very much appreciated the intersection of these values at the Hazon Food Conference. Sharing a meal with Tamar, particularly a Shabbat or Chag meal, was an experience filled with kedushah, where one was effortlessly and joyfully escorted to “a different place.”

Tamar Fund scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis. Applications must be received at least two weeks prior to the start date of the retreat. Please only register after receiving a response; the scholarship will not be applied retroactively. If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar at registrar@hazon.org or (860) 824-5991 x0.


apply for a Tamar Fund scholarship


Check-in is from 2 to 5 pm on Friday, June 10th, followed by a welcome and orientation. The retreat will come to an end with a closing ceremony after Havdallah on Monday, June 13th. You are welcome to stay over Monday night and leave Tuesday. Brunch will be served on Tuesday.


For those coming from the New York City area, we are conveniently located just half an hour from Wassaic Train Station, the last stop on the Harlem Line of the Metro North. We offer a shuttle service at the following times:

  • 2:03 pm on Friday from Wassaic Train Station to IF
  • 4:03 pm on Friday from Wassaic Train Station to IF
  • 11:30 am on Tuesday from IF to Wassaic Train Station

If you have not already reserved shuttle service during registration, please call (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 at least a week before the start date of the retreat to reserve your spot.

For more information on getting here, click here.


Help to reduce the environmental impact of car trips to and from Isabella Freedman by checking out our carpool initiative! Upon registering, you will receive a link to a rideshare board to help connect you with fellow retreat participants. Offering a ride in your car will help reduce carbon emissions, cut down gas costs and make new friends! If you are looking for a ride, adding yourself to the wait list (right hand side of the page) is the best way to be notified when movements occur.


If you plan to supplement our delicious, healthy, farm-to-feast meals, you may bring food, sealed in original packaging, with conventional kosher certifications for your meals in the dining room. One of our mashgichim (kosher supervisors) must pre-approve all food items that enter the dining room. You can bring other non-supervised foods/drinks and enjoy them anywhere on campus besides the dining room.


You may want to bring:

  • Over-the-counter and/or prescription medications
  • Toiletries
  • Flashlight
  • Chargers for electronic devices
  • Sun protection (sunblock, sunglasses, a hat)
  • Rain gear (a jacket and/or umbrella)
  • Ritual wear
  • Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for yoga
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Hiking boots to enjoy our many trails
  • Camping equipment, including a tent, sleeping bag, and towel if you are camping

We provide:

  • Toiletries like deodorant and toothpaste for sale in the bookstore
  • Extra kippot and tallitot, in addition to siddurim
  • Yoga mats, blankets, and blocks
  • Heat and A/C in all guest rooms
  • Linens and towels in all guest rooms
  • Alarm clocks in all guest rooms

If you’re new to Isabella Freedman, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

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