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Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

What a wonderful Shabbat we spent at Isabella Freedman! A combination of Judaism, organic food grown on the property, fresh well water, sauerkraut made on the property, a mikvah that is in the pond, yoga in a round yurt overlooking the pond, davening in a shul overlooking the pond and a great talk with people who are integrating their creativity with their holy Torah.
—Kim Kinneret Dubowitz
 

Throughout the year, we offer Jewish holiday experiences, workshops, festivals, farm vacations, retreats, yoga classes, prayer services, and farm-to-table kosher meals. We also have a store stocked with a unique collection of books, music, Judaica, and our own homemade pickles, cheeses, and jams.

Isabella Freedman is also home to the Adamah and Teva programs, as well as the following retreats:

Adamah Fellowship: Summer 2014
Jun 11, 2014 - Sep 1, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Now in its tenth successful year, the Adamah Fellowship is a three-month leadership training program for young adults in their 20s that integrates organic farming, sustainable living, Jewish learning, community building and contemplative spiritual practice. Learn more or Apply here for the 2014 spring, summer, or fall fellowship.

Camp Isabella Freedman
Jul 7, 2014 - Jul 20, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center has been offering annual summer camp experiences for senior adults since 1956. We are honored to continue this tradition for senior adults and their families by providing you with a warm and welcoming atmosphere for one of the best summer vacations you’ll ever have.

Talmud Circle Institute
Jul 21, 2014 - Jul 25, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Using the English edition of the Talmud with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, The Talmud Circle Institute is dedicated to the study Talmud as a Jewish spiritual practice for all levels of students.

Adamah Farm Vacation - July
Jul 21, 2014 - Jul 25, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

On an Adamah Farm Vacation, you’ll have the opportunity to spend quality time with yourself and your loved ones without getting in the car! You can participate in an array of activities or simply relax in a beautiful setting and enjoy three delicious kosher farm-to-table meals each day.

Torah Yoga: Jewish Text Study & Iyengar Yoga
Jul 28, 2014 - Aug 3, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Experience the wonder of Torah study and the groundedness of yoga practice with Diane Bloomfield, whose teachings spring forth from her own deep learning in Jerusalem.

Davennen' Leadership Training Institute VIII: Week One
Jul 28, 2014 - Aug 3, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

The Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) offers a unique learning experience to help those who lead worship in a Jewish context to deepen the quality of communal prayer so that it activates the body, touches the heart, engages the mind, and nourishes spiritual growth and insight.

Kohenet — The Hebrew Priestess Institute: Week One
Jul 28, 2014 - Aug 3, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

The Kohenet training program uses prayer, ritual, text study, and experiential learning to give women tools of spiritual leadership they can use in their own communities.

Adamah Farm Vacation - August
Aug 4, 2014 - Aug 8, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

On an Adamah Farm Vacation, you’ll have the opportunity to spend quality time with yourself and your loved ones without getting in the car! You can participate in an array of activities or simply relax in a beautiful setting and enjoy three delicious kosher farm-to-table meals each day.

Nehirim Women's Retreat
Aug 8, 2014 - Aug 10, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

The Nehirim Women’­­s Retreat brings together 50-100 queer Jewish women (self-identified) of a wide variety of ages, religious affiliations, family situations (singles, couples, families) and backgrounds. Children & non-Jewish partners are welcome. Ours is a warm, diverse, inclusive community.

Elat Chayyim Living Laboratory
Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Choose from one of four labs to explore innovative Jewish spiritual practices related to health and wellness, healing the earth, text study, or physical embodiment.

Tending the White Fire
Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Weaving somatic practice, text study, classical yoga postures, and ritual arts, Alumah Schuster will lead you through an exploration of one body system each day along with the fire that fuels the body, so at the end of the workshop, participants may be able to authentically say, “From my flesh I shall see Divinity.” (Job 19:26)

The Prophetic Voice
Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Nili Simhai for an exploration of how Jewish eco-activists could work in the “Four Worlds” of reality, drawing on Jewish thought and practice to help move the world away from climate catastrophe and toward a world of just, shared, and sustainable abundance.

Vibrant Living
Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Learn with Shimon Darwick how to create a renewed relationship with the body through health, nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness practices rooted in Judaism. Feel great, be energized, think clearly, and connect deeply.

Wild Roots of Torah
Aug 11, 2014 - Aug 15, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join Rabbi Natan Marglit and Mia Miriam Cohen for a week of living our sacred stories through nature connection and wilderness skills, movement, music, sacred text study, and an exploration of Jewish sacred story and lore, discovering once again our own stories within our tribal narratives, and our own lives in the great web of all life.

Elat Chayyim Mikvah
Aug 18, 2014 - Aug 22, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join a pluralistic, inclusive, diverse community where every participant is a volunteer-leader, you choose your own adventure, and what you pay is determined by a gift-economy fee structure.

Adamah Fellowship Fall 2014
Aug 27, 2014 - Dec 8, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Now in its tenth successful year, the Adamah Fellowship is a three-month leadership training program for young adults in their 20s that integrates organic farming, sustainable living, Jewish learning, community building and contemplative spiritual practice.  Learn more or Apply here for the 2014 spring, summer, or fall fellowship.

New York Ride & Retreat
Aug 29, 2014 - Sep 1, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

A relaxing two-day weekend retreat followed by a two days of riding through the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley into Manhattan. Non-riders can join as crew or come for Shabbat.

Rosh Hashanah
Sep 24, 2014 - Sep 28, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

This Rosh Hashanah, treat yourself to the transformative experience of welcoming in the new year with lively prayer services, deep teachings, immersion in a relaxing wooded venue, tashlich in our stream, community celebrations, and fabulous farm-to-table feasting.

Yom Kippur
Oct 3, 2014 - Oct 5, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Spend Yom Kippur in a place and in a community that supports quiet, contemplative time and meaningful shared experiences, whether you’re walking along the lake, praying in the glass-walled synagogue, visiting the goats, having a deep discussion with a new friend, or helping us build our community sukkah after a bountiful break-fast meal.

Sukkahfest
Oct 8, 2014 - Oct 12, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

All Streams of Judaism flow from One Source! Sukkahfest is Isabella Freedman’s annual celebration of the harvest festival featuring a radically pluralistic and inclusive atmosphere. The many become one as we all come together in our harvest-adorned lakeside Sukkah.

Jewish Men's Retreat
Oct 24, 2014 - Oct 26, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Along with the connections that naturally develop among men who meet at our retreats, many men have used the JMR as an occasion to deepen their relationships with their fathers, sons, or brothers, friends, and congregants by inviting them to join them for the weekend.

Jewish Intentional Communities Conference
Nov 20, 2014 - Nov 23, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join participants from across the country – including people who are already members of intentional communities as well as folks who are just curious and excited by the idea – as we learn from and share with each other, vision together, and plant seeds for communities to come.

Blues for Challah
Dec 12, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

The Fourth Annual Jewish Grateful DeadFest

The Elat Chayyim Meditation Retreat
Dec 21, 2014 - Dec 28, 2014

Silent sitting and walking meditation with instruction, musical chanting prayer sessions, including for Shabbat, silent meals to cultivate the practice of mindful eating, evening teachings that draw on Jewish & Buddhist sources, consultations with retreat leaders, and more.

Hazon Food Conference
Dec 29, 2014 - Jan 1, 2015
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join the thinkers and doers of the Jewish Food Movement for 4 days of inspiring lectures and discussions, expert cooking demonstrations and DIY projects, fun kids and family activities, rocking New Year’s party and delicious, consciously-prepared food.

The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center was originally incorporated in 1897 as the Jewish Working Girls Vacation Society.

In 1956, the agency moved to its current home in Falls Village, CT, and began serving a new segment of the Jewish community, senior adults. Camp Freedman has been offering programs for Jewish senior adults every summer since then.

In the early 1990s Isabella Freedman opened its doors year-round, and it became the primary retreat center for the Jewish communities of New York and New England. Each year, over 30 Jewish organizations, spanning the denominational spectrum, hold retreats at what is now called the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

In 1994, in partnership with Surprise Lake Camp, the Teva Learning Center was developed as an innovative experiential learning program for Jewish elementary school students that integrates ecology, Jewish spirituality, and environmental activism. Each fall, Teva serves over 900 students from Jewish day schools throughout New England, who come to Isabella Freedman for four-day programs.

Building on its experience with the Teva Learning Center, in the spring of 2003, Isabella Freedman developed a new program called Adamah. Adamah is a leadership training program for young Jewish adults that teaches the vital connection between Jewish tradition and environmental stewardship. Through a three-month residential program, Adamah Fellows live communally and engage in a hands-on curriculum that integrates organic agriculture and sustainable living skills, Jewish learning and living, leadership development, and community building. The program strengthens participants’ Jewish identity and commitment to tikkun olam through immersion in an ecologically sustainable, spiritually vibrant, and intergenerationally-connected Jewish community, while exposing countless others to a traditionally-rooted yet entirely new way of Jewish living.

In the fall of 2006, the Elat Chayyim Jewish Retreat Center of Accord, New York merged with Isabella Freedman. For fifteen years, Elat Chayyim transformed contemporary Jewish life with retreat programs that integrated Jewish learning, spirituality and culture. Elat Chayyim’s mission infuses our work here at Isabella Freedman by opening doors to Jewish spiritual practice. The Elat Chayyim spirit in our retreats promotes practices that draw on the wisdom of Jewish tradition and reflect the values and consciousness of the world we live in today. Our Mechon Elat Chayyim offers unique two-year Training Institutes to deepen students’ awareness, spirituality and leadership in various aspects of Jewish life.

In recent years, Isabella Freedman has focused on opening new portals for Jewish connection and engagement, with creative new endeavors ranging from “Judaism & Baseball” retreats to the annual “Blues for Challah” Grateful DeadFest to—in partnership with Keshet—the country’s first ever Jewish LGBTQ Teen gatherings.

The history of Isabella Freedman is thus a history of evolution and re-imagination. The needs of the Jewish community, and of the wider world, have evolved and changed since we were first founded—and so have we. Yet the common threads become clearer with the passage of time. Isabella Freedman has always been a place of transformative experiences: a place to draw on Jewish tradition where lakes and trees themselves offer perspective and calm—a place of rest, renewal, and regeneration. And for many many years it has also been a place of thought-leadership and capacity-building, even though those have not been the words we’ve used to describe what we do. Yet exposing people to new ideas, and strengthening institutions, has been central to our impact in the world for at least the last 20 years.

Everybody knows that the Berkshires are one of America’s natural and cultural treasures. From the glorious hikes of the Appalaichian Trail to the leading-edge cultural institutions such as Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Mass MOCA, and the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Berkshires are widely regarded as one of the most desirable places to live, work, and visit. For those of us who have the good fortune to call this region home, we’re intimately familiar with every hidden gem available to our community from the Litchfield hills to the Vermont highlands.

But did you know that just a half-hour south of Great Barrington, a Jewish retreat center, community resource, and educational farm is waiting for you to discover? Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center welcomes thousands of guests from across the country and around the world each year, and it’s also open for our local community to access, enjoy, and grow together.

Whether you are planning a special celebration, organizational retreat, family reunion, lifecycle event or community gathering, Isabella Freedman’s beautiful setting, comfortable accommodations, delicious food, onsite activities, and dynamic staff are sure to nourish the hearts and souls of all who attend.

 

more information about private events

It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
—Rabbi Tarfon, Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Ancestors) 2:21
 

At Isabella Freedman, we believe that environmental stewardship is a primary ethical obligation. With our planet’s ability to support life diminishing, a great change in our stewardship of the earth is required more now than ever before.

As an active reminder that our actions matter, we offer programs that give participants the knowledge, skills and confidence to be active agents for tikkun olam (healing the world) inside and outside the Jewish community. All of our environmental programs are deeply rooted in Judaism, a tradition intricately connected to nature’s rhythms and grounded in the value that all life is sacred.

At Isabella Freedman, we understand that environmental stewardship is a primary ethical obligation. With our planet’s ability to support life diminishing, a great change in our stewardship of the earth is required more now than ever before. Yet in the face of overwhelming need, we often feel helpless to make a difference. At Isabella Freedman we offer experiences and tools to engage our visitors and partner organizations in embracing environmental responsibility within our grounds and beyond.

As an active reminder that our actions matter, we offer programs that give participants the knowledge, skills and confidence to be active agents for tikkun olam (healing the world) inside and outside the Jewish community. All of our environmental programs are deeply rooted in Judaism, a tradition intricately connected to nature’s rhythms and grounded in the value that all life is sacred.

We offer hands-on opportunities at our forested campus for participants of all ages to learn about everything from how to grow your own food, to how to make your home healthy and energy efficient. Click here to learn more about our environmental commitment, including the ways in which we conserve energy and water, limit the use of toxic chemicals, reduce waste, and prepare and serve food with the environment and human health in mind.

We have long- and short-term programs that train environmental leaders. Young adults in their 20s can apply to be part of the Adamah Fellowship, a three-month leadership training program that integrates organic farming, sustainable living, Jewish learning, community building, and contemplative spiritual practice. And every fall, our campus is home to the Teva Learning Alliance‘s outdoor educational program for Jewish dayschool students.

Isabella Freedman also runs the Jewish Greening Fellowship, an innovative 18-month program that makes environmental stewardship a priority in Jewish camps, day schools, JCCs, human service organizations, and synagogues in the New York area. Generously sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Greening Fellowship trains Jewish communal professionals to be environmental change leaders in their organizations and communities.

Recognizing that environmental stewardship is a core Jewish value, Isabella Freedman is committed to operating our facility in ways that minimize our impact on the natural environment.

At Isabella Freedman we:

Conserve Energy and Water by

  • Upgrading all lighting throughout the facility to be as efficient as possible.
  • Purchasing energy and water efficient models when replacing lights, toilets, and washing machines.
  • Installing low-flow eco-sprayers in the kitchen.
  • Turning off heat and air conditioning when buildings are vacant.
  • Installing only low-e double pane windows when replacing windows.
  • Installing motion sensors and timers on lights throughout the facility (turned off on Shabbat).
  • Establishing a policy to change the sheets and towels every third day, except in the cases of a shorter retreat or a customer request.
  • Washing laundry with phosphate-free detergents.
  • Installing new, more efficient furnaces with AFUE ratings of 90 or higher.
  • Harvesting rainwater for landscape irrigation.
  • Purchasing new air conditioning units rated at least SEER 14.

Limit the Use of Toxic Chemicals by

  • Prohibiting the use of synthetic chemicals or pesticides anywhere on the grounds.
  • Painting all indoor spaces with low or no VOC paint.
  • Using treated lumber for building projects that does not contain arsenic.
  • Using laminated wood flooring with at least 35% FSC Certified wood content. Click here to learn more about responsible forest products.

Prepare and Serve Food with the Environment in Mind by

  • Purchasing produce from local organic growers whenever possible.
  • Using herbs grown on site, eggs from our chicken coop, and honey from our bee hives when they are available.
  • Composting all vegetable and fruit scraps.
  • Using reusable utensils, flatware, and table settings and avoiding Styrofoam completely.
  • Using cloth napkins or recycled paper napkins when disposables are necessary.

Reduce Waste by

  • Providing recycling bins in main meeting areas.
  • Separating the recyclable content from the waste collected daily from guest rooms.
  • Using recycled paper and paper products in the office as well as in the public bathrooms.
  • Having a local recycling vendor pick up bottles, cans, plastics, cardboard, and newspapers twice a week.
  • Donating, when feasible, larger items such as furniture, tires, appliances, and bedding, rather than discarding them to the landfill.
  • Training new staff on recycling policies.

To learn more about environmentally conscious building and facility management, please visit the US Green Building Council’s website.