You make it possible.
Retreats have the power to change lives. At Isabella Freedman, we have a commitment to making Jewish retreats financially accessible. Your donation to the Tamar Fund makes it possible.
Throughout my young 20s, as I was exploring the world, Judaism and the expanses of my own identity, Isabella Freedman retreats were my steady anchors. Here, I could let go of the outside world and be present in beautiful land with beautiful people, a place where I could simply be and connect. Isabella Freedman’s generous scholarships made these experiences possible. I thank Isabella Freedman with my full heart.
Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. Retreats are at the heart of what we do best. Each year we offer thousands of people the opportunity to immerse themselves in a vibrant and inclusive Jewish community. Through food, the outdoors, and the environment, we reframe and renew Jewish life; we inspire those who are already Jewishly involved and bring new people through the door; and we strengthen institutions and communities.
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, the home of Hazon, is our beautiful campus in the Berkshires – a world away, but just a couple hours from most spots around New York and New England. With a working farm, 400 acres of woods and meadows, and a farm-to-table kosher dining hall, Isabella Freedman is where we live the values and practices essential to building a healthier and more sustainable world.
For some members of our community, especially young adults, registration fees can be a barrier to participating in a program that could change their lives. A $180 scholarship from the Tamar Fund is often enough to make a retreat affordable. Even a small gift goes a long way.
We are committed to making our programs accessible to all interested people to the greatest extent possible, regardless of their ability to pay. Towards that vision, Hazon awards over $110,000 in scholarships each year, much of it unfunded.
The Tamar Fund provides scholarships to ensure that people from across the spectrum of the Jewish community have access to retreat experience at Isabella Freedman.
To the person who made it possible for me to attend this retreat…
I don’t have words to express the gratitude in my heart and to tell you how much this experience meant to me and my daughters, but I will try. I left an abusive marriage in 2013, and to say that my journey has not been easy is an understatement. My daughters, who are now 9 and 6, have not had carefree childhoods, and watching them suffer has been heartbreaking for me. Over the past few years, Isabella Freedman has been a place of healing for me. It has been a place of soul searching. A place of finding myself, and finding my connection to G-d and Judaism. It has been a place of giving and receiving love, feeling understood, and feeling a little less alone.
This Shavuot, I observed how far I have come since attending my first Shavuot retreat three years ago. Three years ago I felt broken, wounded, and lost. My spirit felt shattered. I cried many tears. I did not know how I would find the strength to keep going. This year, as I sat in prayer and meditation at the overlook, I felt a sense of inner peace, a fullness in my heart, and a true feeling of comfort and contentment within myself. I felt a sense of being fully present – in my body, in the moment, in the experience. The transformation that has occurred within me felt striking in that moment. While there are certainly still moments of pain, sadness, and loneliness, I feel like a different person. I feel courageous and strong. I feel proud of my unique gifts. And I feel a delicious anticipation in knowing that my journey is still only just beginning. The connections that I made with others this Shavuot are incredibly precious to me. Deep connections were formed sometimes without even words – through eyes, smiles, and dance. Soul connections that made my heart smile with delight. And the conversations too, of course. It is so rare and precious to have such meaningful, loving conversations with people you just met, feeling like you have known each other forever. This, I believe, is the magic of Isabella Freedman.
This Shavuot I watched my daughters experience the magic too. And for that I feel so incredibly grateful! My daughter, Leah, who is 9 years old, is a sensitive, beautiful soul who often seems to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. As her mother, I so much want to protect her from pain, to take away the heaviness she carries. Watching her this Shavuot – watching her smile, watching her run around joyfully and play with new friends, watching the expression on her face during Havdalah, as she took in all the love surrounding her – my heart swelled with gratitude. I know that she will cherish these memories for a very long time. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I can honestly say that even though it rained throughout our stay on Shabbat Sukkot, my husband, 3-year-old son and I had a truly inspiring Shabbat at Hazon that not only allowed us the unique experience of spending the holiday with Jews of all kinds, bringing us closer to “the source,” but pushed us to become involved in our own community and to start attending shul regularly. It also brought sustainability and consciousness for the environment to the forefront of our minds and has impacted how we treat our world and teach our son. As a graduate student, limited funds often make these events difficult to attend, and I am so grateful for this AMAZING scholarship that made it possible for my family and me to experience Hazon.
Being able to participate in spirit-filled Sukkahfest despite not having the full funds to pay for it, has offered me a powerful, prayer-ful, communal holiday, with positive energy that lasts for months afterwards. From the beautiful sukkah to breaths of fresh air and opportunity to share the holiday with a wonderful group of others, I am most grateful to have received a scholarship.
I never thought Rosh Hashanah could be so peacul and spiritual at the same time. I especially liked the mix of an Orthodox and Renewal minyans – I was into both! Thank you for making it possible.
Because of our experiences attending retreats at Isabella Freedman, my fiancé and I have deepened our relationship with Judaism and with each other. We are much more active in our Jewish community at home. My fiance is actually converting to Judaism tomorrow and we will be getting married on Sunday in a ceremony at our local synagogue. We will be spending our honeymoon at the Isabella Freedman Shavuot retreat, because it is a place that means so much to us. Because we work at a non-profit, it would be difficult for us to attend these retreats without the generous financial support of donors to The Tamar Fund. We are so grateful.
I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to come to Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in February for a Kabbalah Weekend with Rabbi David Ingber and Shir Yaakov Feit. In such uncertain times (both personally and for the world) I have found myself in a fog of doubt, regret and worry. I came seeking to understand our tradition, build up my own spiritual practice, and become a more strong and resilient individual. This retreat exceeded my expectations. It catalyzed much needed inner-peace, awe and inspiration.The weekend was filled with prayer, song, healing and connection. It’s been 3 months, and I still tap into the learning, songs, wisdom and resources I was exposed to. I am really looking forward to the next chance I have to return for another retreat!
Thank you for providing this important service to people. I am grateful to have received such support. Being at Isabella Freedman for the environmental events I have attended has provided important time for me to network with others and to share some of my passions and thoughts about Judaism and the environment with others. I have taken back with me so many tidbits of inspiration that have impacted my own work and my spirit.
As a scholarship recipient I feel even more grateful for these opportunities because I I feel that the cost is one of the factors that keeps others from being able to experience the wonder that is Isabella Freedman. I hope to be able to pay it forward by spreading the word about this amazing place and asking others to help enable others to have the experiences that I and so many others have shared.
The Tamar Fund is in loving memory of Tamar Bittelman, z”l who attended the Food Conference in Davis, California in 2011. Torah, Jewish community, ecology, and DIY food were values that Tamar held dear in her own life, and she very much appreciated the intersection of these values at the Hazon Food Conference. Sharing a meal with Tamar, particularly a Shabbat or Chag meal, was an experience filled with kedushah, where one was effortlessly and joyfully escorted to “a different place.”