Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute 9: Week Four

Feb 14, 2018 - Feb 19, 2018

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

accepted participants: register for week four! registration rates and scholarship details

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Led by Rabbi Marcia Prager and Rabbi Shawn Zevit
with Hazzan Jack Kessler, Daniel Sheff and Shir Yaakov Feit

Deepening the quality of communal prayer to activate the body, touch the heart, engage the mind, and nurture spiritual growth.

Forget everything you ever knew about davvening, and get ready for four weeks of intense master classes with the best teachers you can find. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, you’ll never pray the same way again.
—Rabbi Oren Steinitz

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. Employing the participatory approach of an intensive master class, this program coaches you in the high art of leadership of public ritual and prayer.

In this program consisting of four retreats, you become part of a living and learning fellowship – deeply engaged in the process of communal prayer and ritual. Throughout each retreat you join with core faculty and guest master-teachers in ongoing davvenen’, text study, group discussions and coaching.

  • Week 1: Monday, August 1 – Sunday, August 7, 2016
  • Week 2: Wednesday, February 15 – Monday, February 20, 2017
  • Week 3: Monday, July 24 – Sunday, July 30, 2017
  • Week 4: Wednesday, February 14 – Monday, February 19, 2018


Leadership Skills for Building Community

Prayer can be electric and alive. Prayer can touch the soul, burst forth a creative celebration of the spirit, and open deep wells of gratitude, longing and praise. Jewish prayer in its essence is soul dialogue and calls us into relationship within and beyond.

We intuitively know when group prayer is working. Through the power of ancient and modern words and melodies, we venture into realms of deep emotion and find longing, sorrow, hope, wholeness, connection and peace. When guided by skilled leaders of prayer and ritual, our complacency is challenged, we can break through outworn assumptions about God and ourselves, and emerge refreshed and inspired to meet the challenges our lives offer. As rabbis, educators and prayer leaders, we aspire to meaningful prayer and ritual. How does one learn to create transformational spiritual experiences that will vitalize our communities?

A recipient of the National Mintz Award for Education, the Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute is a living-learning experience that will enable participants from all Jewish environments to gain:

  • Deep understanding, experience and skill with the evolution, practice and meaning of Jewish prayer.
  • Grounding in liturgical sources and the inner structure of services, with special emphasis on Shabbat.
  • Advanced skills in the inspirational use of personal presence.
  • Practice and experience in creating prayerful environments, working with group energetics, and balancing structure with spontaneity.
  • Each session is further enriched by special programs and trainings with DLTI special guest faculty.

This program is designed for both the experienced leader and someone emerging into leadership.

For more information about DLTI, visit dlti.org.

See below for our fantastic teachers.



Rabbi Marcia Prager is a vibrant teacher, storyteller, ritual artist, and therapist. She is Director and Dean of Ordination Programs for ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and rabbi for the P’nai Or Jewish Renewal communities of Philadelphia, PA, and Princeton, NJ. Her book, The Path of Blessing (Bell Tower 1998 /Jewish Lights 2003) is an exploration of the profound spiritual wisdom that lies in the Jewish practice of blessing. She is the creator of the unique P’nai Or Siddurim for Shabbat and other innovative approaches to prayer and liturgy. She and her husband Hazzan Jack Kessler travel widely to teach in an array of Jewish and interfaith settings. rabbimarciaprager.com

Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit is a leader in spiritual and congregational life, organizational and congregational consulting and training, educational arts, writing, musical and liturgical recording (6 CDs), teaching and performing. A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and with Smicha from Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l, he has served congregations and havurot from all streams of Judaism with a regard for tradition and creative innovation. He is the rabbi of Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, PA, a spiritual director and Associate Director of the ALEPH Hashpa’ah Program, author of Offerings of the Heart (2005, Alban), Co-Editor of Brother Keepers (2010, Men’s Studies Press) and numerous other publications. rabbizevit.com

Hazzan Jack Kessler was ordained as a Cantor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and went on to have a twenty-year career serving Conservative congregations. During that time he received a Master’s degree in voice from Boston Conservatory and pursued studies in composition in the graduate department of Brandeis University. In addition to his ongoing career as a hazzan (cantor) and vocal coach, he supervises the cantorial training of students in the ALEPH Cantorial Program, and directs two touring ensembles: ATZILUT- CONCERTS FOR PEACE, a duet format of Arab and Jewish musicians performing together, and KLINGON KLEZMER, which does Jewish music from other planets.

Daniel Sheff, a graduate of DLTI 2, has become a core member of the DLTI staff as a teacher, shamess and soul-catcher, bringing many gifts to our collaborative work. Daniel has been a lay leader of Shabbat and holiday services, and recently founded a worship community in the greater Boston area. He is a physician who practices internal medicine and rheumatology, and is a graduate of A Society of Souls program in Kabbalistic Healing, a training in healing and spiritual awakening. He lives in Lexington, MA with his wife Hanna Sherman and their three daughters.

Shir Yaakov is a teacher, singer, composer, designer, producer, “aba” (Dad) and graduate of DLTI 7. 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


accepted participants: click here to register

Tuition for DLTI is $2800, spread over the four weeks at $700 per week. This does not include Room & Board for each of the four retreats, prices for which are determined by your choice of housing. All-inclusive rates for the week range from $1110 to $2490.

Prices on the registration page are ALL-INCLUSIVE, combining the tuition with the room & board rates that you choose.

We strive to make our retreats affordable to everyone.

We believe retreats are important experiences to be shared. Inclusiveness is one of our core values. We strive to ensure that our retreats are as financially accessible as possible. The Tamar fund makes that aspiration possible. The Tamar Fund is in loving memory of Tamar Bittelman z’’l.

Please be sure to read the application guidelines in the form below

If you are participating in DLTI and you miss or cancel one of the week-long retreat sessions, 50% of the program fee ($350) for the missed or cancelled retreat session is still due. Withdrawal is permitted only after the first retreat session.

For the room & board portion of your registration fee, the following cancellation policy applies:

Cancellation Date Refund Policy
Up to 7 days prior to retreat start date Refundable less $50 per person
Between 3-6 days prior 50% refundable
48 hours before retreat start date,

if you do not show up, or if you leave early


Hazon reserves the right to cancel any program at any time. In the event of such a cancellation, you will receive a complete refund.

Inclement Weather: Hazon reserves the right to cancel a retreat due to inclement weather if, in its judgment, it will be unable to operate safely. In the event of such a cancellation, a full refund will be issued. In the event that the retreat proceeds as scheduled, no refund will be available.


Check-in is from 3 to 5 pm on Wednesday, February 14, followed by a welcome and orientation. If you are arriving on a different day, you may check in with the retreat manager on duty anytime after 4 pm on your arrival day. You must be checked out of your room by 10 am on the day your retreat ends. The retreat will come to an end with lunch on Monday, February 19.


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 for this retreat:

  • 2:03 pm & 4:03 pm on Wednesday from Wassaic Train Station to IF
  • 1:30 pm on Monday 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 those of you driving, please see our website for directions to IF.

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 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 (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. If you plan to supplement our delicious, healthy, farm-to-feast meals, your items must be completely sealed in original packaging. Unapproved food and drinks may be enjoyed anywhere on campus besides our dining spaces.


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
  • Snow shoes and snow boots for hiking in the winter
  • Long underwear, wool socks, a hat that covers your ears (or a hat plus ear muffs), a heavy winter coat, thick warm gloves, and a scarf in the winter.

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

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

DLTI gave me a new lease on my spiritual life. It is a laboratory for creativity, spirituality, and joy, with a great chevra and lessons that I carry to every part of my ministry. Plus, I met my wife there!
—Hazzan Matthew Klein