Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
We are able to welcome guests to Isabella Freedman for Shavuot, in a thoughtful, socially-distancing manner. Rabbi Mike Moskowitz and Rabba Wendy Amsellem will headline our various classes, and we will have Open Orthodox and Renewal prayer options.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, we will be operating at a reduced capacity, with dining, davening spaces, and most programming occurring outdoors. Details below.
We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.
Registration Rates (3 nights, Sun-Wed)
Standard Plus lodging: $945 per adult 16+
Standard lodging: $795
Children (5-15): $225
Classes and Activities: We will hold a few outdoor classes throughout the holiday, as well as yoga, tours of our organic farm, and guided hikes on our trails. Rabbi Mike Moskowitz and Rabba Wendy Amsellem will lead a series of classes, including learning into the night on the first night of Shavuot.
Kid’s Activities: While many of our activities are family friendly, there will also be some dedicated programs for kids, led by Arielle Aronoff, Hazon’s former Teva Director. These will make use of our farm and the natural environment of the retreat center.
Meals: We will serve three meals each full day of your stay. Only dinner will be provided on your arrival day and breakfast on your departure day. Our kitchen and dining room are glatt kosher under supervision of the Hartford Kashrut Commission. Please indicate any special dietary needs when you register. We can provide vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or dairy free options and we will do our best to accommodate all your food allergies or other dietary needs. Each guest room / suite is equipped with a mini-fridge. We ask though that guests limit the amount of food eaten in your rooms and to be mindful of trash, given the area wildlife in our remote location.
Our prayer options will all take place outdoors, under tents in case of rain.
Open Orthodox / Partnership Minyan: led by Rabbi Avram and Yael Mlotek, a service firmly rooted in Orthodox halacha (Jewish law), deeply spiritual and inclusive. There will be a trichitza (separate seating for men, women, and an mixed-gender section). Partnership minyanim have women or gender-non-conforming people leading Kabbalat Shabbat, Pseukei D’Zimra, Hallel, the Torah Service, and Yizkor. Anyone can read Torah, and other than Kohen and Levi aliyot (which must be men), anyone can get an aliyah.
Renewal / Liberal: Rabbi David Ingber and Hazzan Basya Schechter from Romemu will guide participants through prayer services that span the four worlds of body, heart, mind, and spirit. They will employ the use of instrumental music, embodied prayer practices, Hasidic teachings, and contemplative silence to open the gates of revelation. Electronic amplification will be used to increase access for all participants, and this service will be broadcast to the wider Romemu community via Zoom.
Leaders and Teachers
Rabbi Avram Mlotek is a rabbi, cantor, actor and writer. He co-founded Base, a model for Jewish practice that reaches out to unaffiliated young adults. He serves as Director of Spiritual Life for the international Base program as well as the Rabbi in Residence at the JCC Manhattan. A grandchild of Holocaust survivors and Yiddish cultural leaders, he is the author of Why Jews Do That or 30 Questions Your Rabbi Never Answered and Passover in a Pandemic, both books illustrated by students of his from Base.
Rabbi David Ingber is the founder and Senior Rabbi at Romemu, a Renewal community in Manhattan. He promotes a renewed Jewish mysticism that integrates meditative mindfulness and physical awareness into mainstream, post-modern Judaism. Rabbi David studied at several yeshivot in Jerusalem and New York and studied philosophy, psychology and religion at New York University. Prior to founding Romemu, Rabbi David was Rabbi-in-Residence at Elat Chayyim Retreat Center.
Basya Schechter is best known for her group, Pharaoh’s Daughter, a world music ensemble that travels through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound. Basya’s earthy, soulful voice rings out over textured instrumentation that forms a vibrant collage of East and West, providing the soundtrack for a harmonious vision of creative peace and vibrant diversity. She is also the Hazzan and musical director of Romemu, a fast growing, progressive, spiritually adventurous community on New York’s Upper West Side, as well as the the spiritual leader of the Romemu Brooklyn Satellite Community.
Rabba Wendy Amsellem teaches Talmud and Halakha at Yeshivat Maharat and directs The Beit Midrash Program, a joint project of Maharat and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. She also teaches regularly at Drisha, Pardes, and the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center. Rabba Wendy received semikha from Yeshivat Maharat and is an alumna of the Drisha Scholars Circle. She has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.
Rabbi Mike Moskowitz is the Scholar-in-Residence for Trans and Queer Jewish Studies at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue. He is a deeply traditional and radically progressive advocate for trans rights and a vocal ally for LGBTQ inclusivity. Rabbi Moskowitz received three Ultra-Orthodox ordinations while learning in the Mir in Jerusalem and in Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ. He is a David Hartman Center Fellow and the author of Textual Activism.
Guest Conduct: Each guest will be required to be either a) fully vaccinated as of May 2nd or b) have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to your arrival with the expectation that you will self isolate until you arrive on campus. If you arrive without meeting either requirement we will not allow you to attend the program. We will also be asking all guests to sign a waiver and questionnaire regarding our COVID-19 practices and your potential exposure or recent symptoms. We ask that everyone acknowledge a set of guidelines, including keeping a 6′ distance between guests not in your group and being masked at all times while around other guests (other than when actively eating in our dining spaces).
Each group or family will have their own designated table to use in our Dining Tent. Our method of food service will vary depending on the meal. Options will include already packed grab-and-go meals, family-style service for your table, and meals served by our staff from a buffet.
Due to COVID safety guidelines, we are only using housing options with private bathrooms, and therefore only have two tiers of lodging available. Larger family parties may receive suites of rooms that share a bathroom.
We have tried to set up rooms to provide more space for guests to relax and work, due to our indoor spaces being limited.
Prayer and Program Spaces:
Our indoor synagogue space will be used for yoga and will have a max capacity of ten people at a time, and as of now, our other indoor spaces will be unavailable. We are constructing a dining tent which will also serve as our prayer space and be available for classes and outdoor socializing. We also will have our fire pit area set up with benches for gathering outside and the lake will be available for boating.
Are you excited? We are! Do you have friends that will be excited? Let them know about this opportunity! Do you have questions? Email the Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We are committed to obeying the current rules of the Connecticut reopening plan and taking additional precautions. Our goal is not only to open safely, but to create confidence in our entire community of guests, employees, vendors, and contractors. We are limiting the number of guests on site to 50% of our capacity. We have strict cleaning and disinfection protocols in place.
We reopened for a similar style of reduced-capacity programming from June-September 2020, including hosting retreats for Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot with great success and no COVID spread.
All rooms will have been thoroughly cleaned before your arrival, and will have been vacant for at least 48 hours in between guests.
No. For non-COVID-19-related problems you can visit Sharon Hospital Emergency department (24 hr) or Torrington Urgent Care Center (8-8 weekdays / 9-5 weekends).
If you think you have been exposed to COVID‑19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your primary care provider for medical advice, and please let our lead staff know.
We’ve learned that nothing is certain right now. We also know that even though current guidelines allow us to open for this style of retreat, those guidelines may change or there may be other reasons that preclude us from being able to run. See our Cancellation Policy below for more details.
You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements. Our local taxi service is Watson Livery, 845-464-8178, which can pick up from the Wassaic Train Station. More information.
Given the short nature of the program, we do not provide housekeeping. If something small is needed, upon request we can arrange a time that works so that there is a gap between staff in your room.
We will provide a phone number upon arrival which you can use to contact our staff on duty.
In the event of a medical emergency, please call 911 from your cell phone, OR 9-911 from any landline phone on campus. After calling 911, please contact a retreat manager as well.
If you or any member of your family / group gets sick, you have to return to your home immediately. We cannot allow guests to be quarantined on our site. Being near your primary care doctor is best.
If Hazon cancels for any reason we will refund your money in full. If you get sick and are unable to attend we will refund your money in full.
You are able to cancel your reservation until May 1 without penalty. If you cancel within 14 days of Shavuot the fee is non-refundable. If you have to leave early or arrive late, there are no refunds.