Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
The Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) offers a unique, award-winning learning experience to help those who lead worship 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.
Employing the participatory approach of an intensive master class, this program coaches participants in the high art of leadership of public ritual and prayer.
The training is a 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.
- Practice and experience in creating prayerful environments, working with group energetics, and balancing structure with spontaneity.
Special exercises will hone your skills, as you learn to:
- Use your whole self — voice, body, gesture — and increase your comfort with an expanded range of leadership styles.
- Maximize the effectiveness of your communication and remain centered in the most challenging situations.
- Shape your phrasing to blend kavvanot seamlessly into the flow of t’fillah and 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.
This program is designed for both the experienced leader and those emerging into leadership.
Participants include rabbis, cantors, rabbinic pastors, rabbinic, cantorial and rabbinic pastor students, lay congregational and havurah leaders — from across the denominational spectrum of Jewish life!
Are you ready to join us?
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 Monday, July 20. 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 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.
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:
- TBD on Monday, July 20 from Wassaic Train Station to IF
- TBD on Monday, July 26 from IF to Wassaic Train Station
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 email@example.com 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
- A hat, scarf, gloves, and coat
- 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.
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 ($400) 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.