Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Sukkahfest is Isabella Freedman’s annual celebration of the harvest festival in a stunning outdoor setting that promotes a deep connection with nature. Sukkahfest celebrates the diversity of Jewish possibility and will manifest several of those beautiful paths throughout the retreat.
See the ‘registration’ tab below for participation options.
- Three minyanim a day: Renewal, Traditional Egalitarian and Orthodox
- Daily yoga, meditation, chassidut classes, guided hikes, farm tours, etc.
- Nightly fargbrengens in the Sukkah: songs, Torah, merriment
- Farm to table feasts featuring ADAMAH Farm, Grow and Behold Meat, homemade Challah, & fine wine
- Simchat Beit HaShoeivah ritual
- Awesome “Camp Teva” kid’s program for ages 5-12
What is Sukkahfest?
Sukkahfest is a singular event – perhaps the most joyous, and almost certainly the most diverse celebration of the holiday of Sukkot on planet Earth. It takes the full spectrum of the community to manifest the joy of Sukkahfest at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Everyone is welcome – all ages, all streams: Ḥasidic, Renewal, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, Secular, ‘Just Jewish’ – all colors, all identities – we strive to include all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations – and people from all financial backgrounds as well.
The many become one as we all come together in our harvest-adorned lakeside and poolside Sukkahs, seating over 200 revelers, singing together and eating amazing farm-to-table feasts featuring our own Adamah Farm veggies and pickled products, Grow & Behold meats, as well as delicious vegetarian offerings, fine kosher wine, and delicious homemade challah.
While we are essentially one, there are so very many beautiful perspectives to learn from. The Sukkahfest program features learning in various modalities from an incredible range of teachers. Text based learning from Talmudic and Hasidic sources, embodied learning through dance and yoga, experiential learning on the farm and in the forest, interactive group discussions, and more. Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education (JOFEE) is at the core of our programming, along with engaging our spiritual practices and traditions.
What about kids?
Families, singles, friends, and larger groups all attend Sukkahfest. **We are enthusiastic about supporting families on retreat with our signature Camp Teva kid’s program for ages 5-12, which will run throughout the entire Sukkahfest between breakfast and lunch, and then again between lunch and dinner. Younger children are warmly invited to participate with an accompanying parent/guardian.**
What is “AllStream”?
All Streams of Judaism flow from One Source! “AllStream” is our name for the gathering of diverse Jewish communities at Sukkahfest. AllStream (rather than “Mainstream”) Judaism seeks to validate all streams of Jewish spiritual expression, recognizing that All of the ways of being Jewish flow from and return to One Source.
AllStream—beyond pluralism—is a focus on the unity-in-diversity that is the sign of ecological, social, and spiritual wellness. We are proud of the range of teachings and practice this Sukkot, and we hope the connection to people and planet expands in our communal celebrations.
First Nights: Sukkot. Sunday, October 16 – Wednesday, October 19
The ‘First Nights’ segment of the Sukkahfest retreat starts by bringing in holiday of Sukkot on Sunday evening, October 16th. Arrival and check in is from 2-5pm on Sunday. We begin with a group orientation, lighting candles in the Sukkah, and a festive holiday feast. Evening programming includes a farbrengen/tisch in the Sukkah.
Monday begins our full holiday programming including our three prayer options: a Ḥasidic-style Orthodox Minyan, a Traditional-Egalitarian Minyan, and a Renewal davennen’ service, all interweaving at various times as appropriate for Hoshannot, Hallel, and Torah readings. A holiday lunch follows a morning of prayer, song, and ritual, followed by afternoon learning options, outdoor activites, mincha prayers, and candle lighting for day two of the Sukkot Chag. A holiday dinner feast follows and another round of evening programs into Tuesday, day two of the chag, which will follow a similar pattern – with different teachers, activities, and outdoor experiences – as day one. Our renowned renewal of Simchat Beit HaShoevah – the water-drawing ceremony – will be a feature of day two, along with the other conventional observances of the holiday.
Tuesday night we transition from the sacred days of the Sukkot holiday into the ‘intermediate’ days of Chol HaMoed. Those only staying for the first three nights will depart on Wednesday after lunch.
Middle Nights: Chol HaMoed and Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot. Wednesday, October 19 – Sunday, October 23
The “Middle Nights” section of the Sukkahfest retreat begins with arrival and check-in from 2-5pm on Wednesday, October 19th. From Wednesday evening through Friday evening the program will include activities that are specially suited for this ‘chol’ flavor of Sukkot, including: connecting with nature, art projects, cooking demonstrations, opportunities for local tourism, and special musical performances!
Friday evening through Saturday night is Chol HaMoed Sukkot Shabbat and will include the three prayer options, and a special reading of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes, with learning sessions and outdoor activites that encourage us to completely relax into this special Shabbat.
Saturday night we will bid farewell to Shabbat and bring in the new week with a musical and enthusiastic Havdallah.
Sunday morning we will have a special experience in observance of Hoshana Rabbah in which we will gather our willow branches and convene on our Adamah Farm for this ancient ritual believed to finally seal our judgement for Good, for the year. Sunday afternoon we will offer learning sessions, as well as offerings from diverse teachers and outdoor activities. Those only staying through this segment of the Sukkahfest retreat will depart after a festive lunch in the Sukkah.
Last Nights: Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Isru Chag. Sunday, October 23 – Wednesday, October 26
The “Last Nights” segment of our Sukkahfest retreat begins with arrival and check in from 2-5pm on Sunday, October 23rd. Sunday night begins the holiday of Shemini Atzeret – both the 8th day of Sukkot, and a holiday in its own right. We will maintain the basic Sukkahfest structure throughout the ‘Last Nights” section from Sunday through Wednesday, October 26th: three prayer options (Orthodox, Traditional-Egalitarian, and Renewal), festive meals, diverse learning sessions, and outdoor activities. Among the other fascinating and subtle observances of this holiday, we will take time to ‘tarry’ in the Sukkah, eating our last halachically-mandated meals in this special space.
Monday night we welcome the most joyous holiday of this season of our joy – Simchat Torah. According to tradition, Monday night we will read the Torah scrolls – the only time of the year when we read Torah at night. Multiple styles of celebration will commence throughout the night and into the next day – from raucous dancing and singing and l’chaims, to contemplative space for finding your own new beginning as the Torah itself begins again.
Tuesday night we bid farewell to this entire holiday cycle that began with the start of Sukkot over a week ago. Isru Chag is the name of this time, the day after the festival, when we bathe in the afterglow, and extend our joy just a little while longer. We will have a special musical performance, a bonfire, and perhaps just sit in the Sukkah one last time… basking in the glow.
Wednesday morning, October 26th, Sukkahfest comes to a close. Those who joined for just this segment, or even the entire ten nights, will gather after morning prayers for a closing circle and then we wend our merry ways home, to tell tales of the 11th annual Sukkahfest to our friends and family for the rest of the year… until next time.
We have strived to create the most affordable possible rates and provide multiple options for length of stay that will allow for flexible arrival and departure dates.
First, please choose which nights you’d like to stay. On the next step you can choose your lodging, sign up for a shuttle, and purchase a lulav and etrog set.
|Holiday||””Sukkot””||””Chol HaMoed””||Shabbat Chol‘‘”
|Dates||Oct 16-19||Oct 19-23‘||Oct 21-23||Oct 21-26||Oct 23-26‘||Oct 16-26|
|# of Nights||Three||Five||Two||Five||Three||Ten|
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
Check-in is from 2 to 5 pm on each arrival day (Sunday 10/16, Wednesday 10/19, Friday 10/21, and Sunday 10/23). If you are arriving on a different day, you may check in after 4 pm. You must be checked out of your room by 10 am on your departure day, but you are encouraged to stay through lunch. Sukkahfest will come to an end after breakfast on Wednesday 10/26.
For those coming from the New York City area, we offer a shuttle from and to Wassaic Train Station — the last stop on the Harlem Line of the Metro North — on arrival and departure days at the following times:
Arrival Shuttles – from Wassaic Train Station to Isabella Freedman:
- 2:16 pm & 4:16 pm on Sunday 10/16
- 2:03 pm & 4:03 pm on Wednesday 10/19
- 2:03 pm & 4:03 pm on Friday 10/21
- 2:16 pm & 4:16 pm on Sunday 10/23
Departure Shuttles – from Isabella Freedman to Wassaic Train Station:
- 11:30 am on Wednesday 10/19
- 11:30 am on Sunday 10/23
- 11:30 am on Sunday 10/26
The shuttle costs $20 each way. If you have not already signed up for the shuttle during registration, please call (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 at least a week before the start date of the retreat to reserve your spot. If you require transportation outside of our designated shuttle times, we recommend the taxi service Taximan – (845) 789-1242. 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 unique ride share board to connect 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 (on the right hand side of the page) is the best way to be notified when movements occur.
One of our mashgichim (kosher supervisors) must pre-approve all food items that enter the designated dining spaces, including the sukkahs. If you plan to supplement our delicious, healthy, farm-to-feast meals, your items must be completely sealed in original packaging and have a conventional kosher-for-Passover hechsher. Unapproved food and drinks may be enjoyed anywhere on site besides our dining spaces.
You may want to bring:
- Over-the-counter and/or prescription medications
- 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
- Winter Apparel (gloves, wool socks, long underwear…)
- 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.
Online registration is for full credit card payments only. If you register at least two months in advance, you can set up an installment plan to pay over two or three months. Please call 860.824.5991 x0 to register over the phone and set up your plan. Please review our lodging options and rates prior to calling.
Did my registration go through?
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 email us at email@example.com.
Can I register for only one or two nights?
We cannot prorate partial stays that different from the registration options. Please select the option that encompasses the dates of your stay.
Is financial aid available?
We strive to make our programs affordable to everyone.
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.