Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Sukkahfest is Isabella Freedman’s annual celebration of the harvest festival featuring a radically pluralistic and inclusive atmosphere in a stunning outdoor setting that promotes a deep connection with nature.
In honor of our Sukkahfest retreat’s 10th anniversary this year, we are offering 10 NIGHTS OF SUKKAHFEST!!
That’s right, you can join us for our signature celebration for the entire holiday through Simchat Torah.
See the ‘registration information’ tab below for participation options including three, four, or 10 night stays at Isabella Freedman.
See the ‘retreat description’ tab below for details about the holiday celebrations throughout the 10 nights of Sukkahfest.
*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.
Check back soon for the full list of leaders including R’Avram Mlotek, Soferet Julie Rachama Seltzer, Ḥazzan Mattisyahu Brown, R’Abby Treu, R’Shmuel Braun, R’David Seidenberg, R’Ezra Weinberg, R’Riqi Kosovske, R’Getzel Davis, Rav Kohenet R’Jill Hammer, R’Abby Sosland, Holy Drummer Shoshana Jedwab, and yes, even more!
First Nights: Sukkot Chag 1 & 2
The ‘First Nights’ segment of the Sukkahfest retreat starts by bringing in holiday of Sukkot on Sunday evening, September 27th. 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, a lively group discussion about Jewish ‘Allstream’ pluralism, deep text study, and a bonfire.
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. For those only staying for the first 3 nights and departing on Wednesday after lunch, you’ll still be able to take part in a very special event Wednesday morning – an event that only occurs once every 7 years on this day: Hakhel – in which we all gather as one community united in our diversity of Jewish practice, identity, age, gender, and race – to hear the reading of the Torah.
Middle Nights: Chol HaMoed and Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot
The “Middle Nights” section of the Sukkahfest retreat begins with arrival and check in from 2-5pm on Wednesday, September 30th. From Wednesday evening through Friday evening the program will include activities that are specially suited for this ‘chol’ flavor of Sukkot, including: 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, Motzei Shabbat, after a musical and enthusiastic Havdalah, we’ll have a Community Offerings Talent Show – and enjoy each other’s unique, beautiful, silly, genius gifts.
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.
For those only staying through this segment of the Sukkahfest retreat, we will bid you farewell after a festive lunch in the Sukkah and prepare to welcome guests for the ‘Last Nights’.
Last Nights: Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Isru Chag
The “Last Nights” segment of our Sukkahfest retreat begins with arrival and check in from 2-5pm on Sunday, October 4th. Sunday night begins the holiday of Shemini Atzeret – both the 8th day of Sukkot, and a holiday in it’s own right. We will maintain the basic Sukkahfest structure throughout the ‘Last Nights” section from Sunday through Wednesday, October 7th: 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 7th, Sukkahfest comes to a close. Those who joined for just this segment, or even the entire 10 nights, will gather after morning prayers for a closing circle and then we wend our merry ways home, to tell tales of the 10th annual Sukkahfest to our friends and family for the rest of the year… until next time.
Click the “register now” button above for information, room rates, and to register online. You may purchase a Lulav and Etrog set when you register.
We have strived to create the most affordable possible rates, as well as providing multiple options for length of stay that will alow for flexible arrival and departure dates. If you come for the middle nights, you can stay for four nights at the price of three!
If you’d like to come for only the first half of the middle nights (Wednesday, September 30th to Friday, October 2nd), the rates are 50% off the rates for the middle nights. Please call to register over the phone. If you’d like to come only for Shabbat (Friday, October 2nd to Sunday, October 4th), or from Shabbat onward (Friday, Octoer 2nd to Wednesday, October 7th), we may be able to accomodate you, pending availability. The rates for Shabbat are 25% off the rates for the middle nights. Please contact the Registrar at (860) 824-5991 x 0 to check availability and register.
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 860.824.5991 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.