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.
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.
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.
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.
Our fifth annual Jewish Grateful DeadFest explores and celebrates the universe inspired and embodied by the Grateful Dead – and makes the connections between that universe and our Jewish tradition and culture.
With Rabbi Jay Michaelson, Beth Resnick-Folk, Shir Yaakov Feit, and Rabbi Naomi Hyman. Silent meditation with instruction, musical prayer services, evening teachings that draw on Jewish, Secular & Buddhist sources, and more.
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.
Spend the holiday with family and community, enjoy gourmet kosher for Passover food, inspiring seders, and the beauty of the Berkshires.
Join the People of the Bike for our annual fully-supported ride and retreat. This exciting, diverse community Shabbat and cycling experience is open for people of all cycling levels and ages.
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.
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.