Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Led by Rabbi Marcia Prager, Rabbi Shawn Zevit and Hazzan Jack Kessler
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.
The Davvenen’ 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. DLTI has trained nearly 400 participants from every denomination, professional and lay role.
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, July 23 – Sunday, July 29, 2018
- Week 2: Wednesday, February 13 – Monday, February 18, 2019
- Week 3: Monday, July 29 – Sunday, August 4, 2019
- Week 4: Wednesday, February 12 – Monday, February 17, 2020
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!
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 Davvenen’ 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.
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, 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.
Additional Program and Faculty Assistants
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.
Hazzan Diana Brewer delights in serving with DLTI in a variety of ways including administrative work, teaching, and spiritual support. She was ordained through the ALEPH Cantorial Program, and is an alumna of DLTI 8. She comes into the cantorial world as an experienced professional singer and instrumentalist, with a Master’s Degree in Early Music Vocal Performance. She currently serves as Hazzan at the Jewish Community of Amherst, where she leads worship and teaches Davvenology to children. She also serves the Jewish community of The McAuley, a Catholic assisted living facility in W. Hartford, CT.
Important Guest Information
Arrival & Departure
Check-in is from 3 to 5 pm on Wednesday, February 12. If you are arriving on another day, you may check in anytime after 3 pm. Check-in is located in the Main Building — the big red building in the middle of campus. You must be checked out of your room by 10 am on the last day of your stay if you are staying in a guest room.
Driving & Parking
Driving directions can be found on our website. If using a navigation system, our address is 116 Johnson Rd, Falls Village CT, 06031.
There are two parking lots: one by the main entrance and one by the barnyard on the other end of campus. There is also accessible parking located across from the Main Building. Please do not park on the grass anywhere on campus. Parking in front of guest buildings is not allowed.
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 from and to the Wassaic station at the following times:
- 4:20 pm on Wednesday, February 12 from Wassaic Train Station to IF (train departs Grand Central at 1:49 pm).
- 1:15 pm on Monday, February 17 from IF to Wassaic Train Station (train departs Wassaic at 2:18 pm).
Advance reservation is required for shuttles. The shuttle fee is $20 per person each way. If you have not already reserved shuttle service during registration, please contract us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 at least a week before the start date of the retreat to reserve your spot; space is limited.
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 access to a 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:
- Personal medications, including over-the-counter
- Chargers for electronic devices
- A water bottle and/or travel mug for use outside of dining spaces
- Ritual wear
- Comfortable clothes for yoga
- Hiking boots or sneakers to enjoy our hiking trails
- Sunglasses and hat
- A jacket for cool mornings and nights
- A raincoat
- Camping gear, including your own tent, sleeping bag, pillow, and towel, if you are camping
- 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.
Rates and Registration
Registration is for accepted participants only.
Tuition for DLTI is $2800, spread over the four weeks at $700 per week.
This tuition price does not include Room & Board for each of the four retreats, which are determined by your choice of accommodations. Prices listed on the registration page combine tuition and Room & Board for the week-long retreat.
We strive to make our programs affordable to everyone. Limited scholarships are available, please see the scholarships tab for details.
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.