DLTI 11: Week One

Aug 2, 2021 - Aug 8, 2021

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

The Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) is an invaluable community of inspired and inspiring davveners, with many valuable resources. We send you our heartfelt hope that you will remain safe and well!

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Rabbis Shawn and Marcia, Hazzan Jack, Hazzan Diana and Daniel Sheff

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DLTI is a 2-year, 4-week Training Program in the Art of Public Prayer

The Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) is a unique, award-winning learning experience for those leading worship and other communal events in a Jewish context. Deepen the quality of communal prayer; Activate the body; Touch the heart, Engage the mind; Nourish genuine spiritual growth and insight.

With the participatory approach of an intensive master class, participants are coached in the high art of leadership of public ritual and prayer. Designed for both experienced leaders and those emerging into leadership, participants include rabbis, cantors, pastors, students, lay congregational and havurah leaders — from across the denominational spectrum of Jewish life! Are you ready to join us?

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About the Program

Week 1 (Aug 2-8, 2021) will be virtual. Future weeks will be at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center!

Two-year program consisting of four five-day retreats:
The retreat participants become a living and learning fellowship — deeply engaged in the practice and process of communal prayer and ritual. Throughout each retreat the group joins with core faculty and master-teachers in ongoing davvenen, text study, group discussions and coaching.

This living-learning experience enables 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 inspiring use of personal presence.
  • Experience in creating prayerful environments, and balancing structure with spontaneity.

Special exercises will hone your skills, as you learn to:

  • Use your whole self: voice, body, gesture. Expand your comfortability with a range of leadership styles.
  • Maximize the effectiveness of your communication. Remain centered in the most challenging situations.
  • Blend kavvanot seamlessly. Share personal stories to add an intimate dimension to your teaching.
  • Smoothly segue from the spoken word into song or prayer, or from one prayer to another.
  • Choose a melody for the mood you wish to create and use instruments with subtlety and grace.
  • Incorporate dance or movement into prayer — in both havurah-style and congregational settings.
  • Craft and deliver a truly dynamic d’var Torah; use bibliodrama and other interactive styles of teaching.
  • Brush up your traditional skills in special labs for Torah-leynen and nusah ha-t’fillah.

Core Faculty

Core Faculty

Marcia Prager

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


Shawn Israel

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

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

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.


Diana Brewer

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.

Shir Yaakov

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

Important Guest Information

Arrival & Departure
Check-in is from 3-5 pm on Day #1 in the Main Building (big red building in the middle of campus). If you are arriving on another day, you may check in anytime after 3 pm. 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 here. For navigation systems our address is: 116 Johnson Rd, Falls Village CT, 06031.
There are two parking lots: one next to the tennis court 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.

Train Transportation
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. Shuttle service schedule to/from the Wassaic station TBD. Shuttle reservations required at least a week prior to retreat start date; space is limited. Shuttle fee is $20/person each way. Didn’t reserve during registration? Email or call (860) 824-5991 ext.

Reduce the environmental impact of car trips with our carpool initiative! Upon registering, you will receive access to a rideshare board connecting you with fellow participants. Offering a ride helps reduce carbon emissions, cut down gas costs, and make friends! Looking for a ride? Add yourself to the wait list.

Kashrut Policy
One of our mashgichim (kosher supervisors) must pre-approve all food entering designated dining spaces. If you plan to supplement our delicious, healthy, farm-to-feast meals, items must be completely sealed in original packaging. Unapproved food and drinks may be enjoyed anywhere on campus besides dining spaces.

Packing List
Check out our FAQs and see below.

You may want to bring:
-Medications, toiletries
-Flashlight, electronic devices chargers
-Water bottle/travel mug
-Ritual wear, yoga wear
-Hiking boots/sneakers for our hiking trails

We have:
-Kippot, tallitot, 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

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy

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

Participants who miss or cancel one of the week-long retreat sessions, still owe 50% of the program fee ($400) for the missed or cancelled retreat session. Withdrawal is permitted only after the 1st 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

We strive to make our retreats affordable to everyone.

Please see below for information and guidelines for our Tamar Fund Scholarship.

Tamar Fund Scholarship

Tamar Fund Scholarship

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

Announcing: DLTI Cantorial Scholarship

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and DLTI announce a DTLI 11 $1,000 scholarship for a cantorial applicant.
Renewable for both years of the program. Must be serving in a Conservative synagogue to be eligible.

Apply online here. Learn more at dlti.org, or contact Hazzan Jack Kessler at alephcantorial@comcast.net.

Cantorial Testimonials

DTLI offers a unique, award-winning learning experience to help those who lead tefilah and other communal events 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 genuine spiritual growth and insight. Service leaders who follow this path have the satisfaction of seeing their communities enriched, and the joy of deepened avodat hakodesh.

This innovative two-year, four-week training in the art of creative & collaborative prayer leadership has trained over five hundred rabbis, hazzanim, and lay leaders from across the denominational spectrum.

Hear from some of our cantorial participants:

“DLTI was my most significant professional training following cantorial school. I learned the art of collaborative, intentional prayer craft in the renewal style in a way that both grew my personal spirituality and enhanced my liturgical skills and creativity. My cohort included professional musicians, rabbis, cantors, and lay davveners of all walks of life, many of whom are now friends and colleagues. The faculty are warm and spiritual people, who expertly model how to lead a group in learning and in prayer.”
— Hazzan Matt Austerklein (Beth El Congregation, Akron, OH)

“I had been leading congregations in prayer for over 20 years before embarking on DLTI. Yet the four-week intensive over a two-year period totally transformed my approach to tefilah, nusach and musical facilitation. The faculty inspired me to ‘sing a new song’ every time I participated in davvening with my cohort. Working with other participants from different Jewish backgrounds was invaluable. We brought different skill sets to DLTI and were lovingly guided and encouraged by the faculty to collaborate in ways that elevated the whole group. The lessons I learned at DLTI are with me every time I teach, lead from the bimah, facilitate a singing circle or a study group. DLTI is an invaluable experience for professional clergy and for anyone who is interested in seriously deepening their connection and relationship to tefilah.”
— Hazzan George Mordecai (Emanuel Synagogue – Sydney, AUS)

apply now for dlti 11