Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Registration is for accepted students only. Click here for information on registering your friends and family for the Kohenet Ordination!
A new vision of Jewish women’s spiritual leadership
Led by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Shoshana Jedwab, and Taya Shere
I’m open to the mystery and to walking the path lit by Shekhinah.
Studying text, integrated with women’s other ways of knowing, has helped me find places in Judaism where I can fully engage as a woman.
The Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute reclaims powerful shamanic models of sacred service based on Jewish women’s spiritual leadership roles throughout the centuries, from biblical prophetess-priestesses to Talmudic healers and magicians to kabbalistic dream interpreters to modern feminist ritualists. By opening to the sacred feminine in Jewish sources, in the world around us, and in our own lives, we evolve an embodied, earth-based, and feminist Jewish practice. The Kohenet training program uses prayer, ritual, text study, and experiential learning to give women tools of spiritual leadership they can use in their own communities.
The Kohenet Institute meets twice a year for a total of four week-long sessions over the course of two years. Our curriculum is based on priestess-archetypes such as Seeker, Shrinekeeper, Wise Woman, Mother, Prophetess, and Shamaness. For each priestess-archetype, we explore myth, history, personal experience, ceremony and spirit journey. Our initial program is four week-long retreats, with phone calls and on-line discussion and assignments in between sessions. This training program concludes with an initiatory ritual. Upon completion of the initial program, students can choose to enroll in an advanced program that provides in-depth training in ritual leadership, and receive smicha (ordination) as a Hebrew priestess.
Our community of Kohenet sisters spans the entire country and is a rich source of support and learning. Our core faculty has extensive experience in ritual facilitation; Jewish sacred text, lifecycle ritual, and prayer; and earth-based feminist theology, and we are also supported by guest faculty and interns. We have yearly programs for alumnae, and our graduates maintain close contact with the Institute and the Kohenet network.
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD is an author, educator, midrashist, myth-weaver and ritualist. She is the co-founder of Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Institute. She is also the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic Jewish seminary. Rabbi Hammer is the author of Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, and the co-author of The Hebrew Priestess and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Rabbi Hammer conducts workshops on ancient and contemporary midrash, bibliodrama, creative ritual, kabbalah, Jewish dreamwork, and Jewish cycles of time. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut.
Shoshana Jedwab is a prize-winning Jewish educator and the Jewish Studies Coordinator at the A.J. Heschel Middle School in New York City. She is the founding facilitator of the Makom Drum Circle at the JCC in Manhattan and is a percussionist and performance artist who has trained in bibliodrama and psychodrama. Shoshana has provided empowering drum circles to singles, student, training and bereavement groups. Shoshana has performed with Storahtelling, Chana Rothman, Debbie Friedman, Akiva Wharton, A Song of Solomon, Hebrew Mystical Chant with the Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn, and seasonal events. She is Kohenet’s ritual drummer and also serves on the Kohenet faculty.
Taya Shere plays passionately in the realms of transformative ritual and embodied vocalization. Taya is co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. Her chant albums Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night and Torah Tantrika have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music” and rock devotional tribe worldwide. Taya is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Paths of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (forthcoming Ben Yehuda Press) and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Taya mentors resonant students in Sacred Arts and Spiritual Leadership and is Spiritual Leader Emeritus of Olney Kehila Congregation in Olney, MD. Taya makes home, music, and other magic in Oakland, CA. holytaya.com
Tuition for Kohenet is $1800, spread out over the 4 sessions of the Institute, at $450 per session.
This tuition price does not include Room & Board for each of the four retreats, which are determined by your choice of acccommodations. The rates below are inclusive of the tuition, room, and board costs.
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
Arrival & Departure
Check-in is from 3 to 5 pm on Monday, August 5. 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:
- 4:15 pm on Monday, August 5 from Wassaic Train Station to IF
- 1:15 pm on Sunday, August 11 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 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.