Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
Stay tuned for registration info!
A Weekend of Jewish Song Singing and Sharing
Let My People Sing! believes in the liberatory potential of song and the importance of a vibrant Jewish singing culture.
The retreat will be structured around Shabbat, hour-long song sharing and teaching sessions, and community sings – with plenty of time to explore the farm, swim in the lake, sit by the pool, or go on a hike.
The retreat is open to lovers of Jewish song, new and old. Whether you have an abundance of songs in your back pocket you’re excited to share, are longing to expand your repertoire, or are new to Jewish songs altogether, we welcome you to join us! We see the array of Jewish”o songs as expansive, including but not limited to songs based on liturgical text, niggunim (wordless melodies), piyyutim, Jewish folk songs, Hebrew chanting, Jewish labor songs, songs in Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic, Jewish gospel, songs written by Jews, sung by Jews, etc.
Sessions will be led by a wide array of song leaders using a variety of formats. Some will include histories and stories, others will just be about singing the songs themselves. No instruments will be used on Shabbat unless otherwise noted.
Shabbat services will be offered Friday night and Saturday morning. There will be multiple davenning options:
Alternative / Renewal: This alternative prayer option will include creative interpretations of traditional Jewish prayer structure using a variety of spiritual practices. The services will combine singing, exploration of specific verses, instruments, and meditation. There is no Jewish prayer experience needed: this is a service that is open and accessible to all. It is an experimental prayer space that values heart and spirit-based experience.
Traditional Egalitarian: Our traditional egalitarian services will be siddur (prayer book) based, and include a full liturgy. Services welcome people of all genders and will be songful, spirited, and participatory. We are open to anyone and everyone, regardless of background or prior experience with this kind of prayer.
Orthodox: Join us for a soul-stirring, song-infused traditional tefillah (prayer). There will be a tri-chitza, a partition separating a men’s, women’s, and all genders section.
Time to sing all together!
Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Fun!
Make pickles, explore the woods, and take a tour of the farm alongside our Adamah fellows
Submit a Session Proposal
This summer’s Let My People Sing! song sessions will be entirely led by participants. We welcome all participants to submit a proposal to lead an hour-long song singing and/or sharing session. Upon registering you will have the opportunity to submit a proposal.
2018 Lead Teachers
Vocalist and scholar, Galeet Dardashti, is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. She has earned a reputation as a trail-blazing performer of Middle Eastern Jewish music as founder and leader of internationally renowned all-female musical group, Divahn, and through her multi-disciplinary commissions, The Naming (Six Points Fellowship), and Monajat (FJC Inaugural Music Commission). Time Out New York has called Dardashti’s work “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post described it as “heart-stopping.” As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, specializing in cultural politics and contemporary Mizrahi music and culture in Israel; she is currently Assistant Professor of Jewish Music & Musician-in-Residence at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan.
Taya Mâ (Taya Shere) plays passionately in the realms of transformative ritual and embodied vocalization. Taya Mâ is co-founder and co-director of the Kohenet Institute. Her chant albums Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night, Torah Tantrika, and This Bliss have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” She is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook, and is a practitioner of Ancestral Lineage Healing and Somatic Experiencing. Taya Mâ is faculty at Starr-King School for the Ministry, co-leads Makam Shekhina, a multi-religious Jewish/Sufi spiritual community, and mentors emergent spiritual leaders in embodied presence and counter-oppressive devotion. She makes home, music and other magic in the California East Bay, and regularly both teaches and offers private session work online.
Josh Waletzky is a world-leading Yiddish songwriter, deeply rooted in traditional Yiddish song. For over 50 years Josh has been singing, teaching, and composing Yiddish songs in a variety of settings, this year at the Uriel Weinreich Yiddish Summer Program and at Yiddish New York. Over the past decade, Josh has mentored several of the younger talents on the Yiddish song scene under the auspices of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (with support from the New York State Council Folk Arts program). This year marks the start of a new, ongoing project: the Yiddish Singing Society, where Josh leads weekly song-learning sessions.
Mónica Gomery was honored to receive rabbinical ordination from Hebrew College in June 2017, and is the new Associate Director of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. Her interests include poetry, niggunim, Talmud study, social justice, and pastoral care. She believes that music is at the heart of building spiritual and political community, and loves nothing more than singing with others. She is thrilled to learn and to teach at Let My People Sing!
Ilana Lerman is a community organizer, artist, and herbalist in Boston, MA and loves to interweave song throughout her days, political meetings and actions, and spiritual practice. Ilana is currently a student of Shefa Gold’s Kol Zimra program for chant leaders.
Noam Lerman grew up in Milwaukee, WI announcing songs for their father’s weekly Jewish radio show, and deeply connecting to Jewish music from around the world. They play drums, fingerstyle guitar, and jawharp, and they appreciate experimenting with nigunim and Yiddish folk songs. Noam is passionate about cultivating singing as a spiritual, radical, and meditative practice – one that can be a non-hierarchical collective experience for people to create intentional sacred space with their voices. Noam is currently a Rabbinical student at Hebrew College.
Batya Levine is currently a preschool teacher in Boston, and was once a Teva Educator turned Transformational Experience Fellow at Isabella Freedman. She plays a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, and saxophone, though voice is her primary instrument. Coming from the Jewish lineage of the tribe of Levi, who were the musicians in the Holy Temple, she is dedicated to music for the sake of healing and growth on the individual and communal levels.
Margot Seigle is a community organizer, movement builder, healer, and ritual leader in practice who co-runs a queer Jewish chicken farm called Linke Fligl (left wing in yiddish). She hails from the midwest and currently lives in the Hudson Valley, but calls the Jewish diaspora home. Margot deeply believes in the liberatory potential of song and is so grateful for the opportunity to co-create a space that holds that vision.
Camp Teva – Kids Program
Camp Teva is for kids ages 5 – 12, and runs simultaneously with retreats geared toward adults. Camp Teva combines the best of Teva’s signature Jewish environmental education with all of the opportunities provided by the Adamah Farm to create a distinctive and creative way for kids to have a fun and safe Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education experience while their parents are enjoying Hazon’s many retreats, conferences, holidays, and workshops at Isabella Freedman. A transformative experience for the whole family!