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Topic: Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

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Because Sometimes it Rains on Your Sukkah

by Sarah Chandler Geshem Be’ito (Acceptance of Rain in Its Time) The following essay will be published in the forthcoming book of teachings “Good Noticing” published by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The rhythms of the Jewish calendar may not coincide with your particular climate. At times, our traditional rituals may range from the impractical to the impossible. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, calling upon light in the darkness of Chanukah in Kislev/December always resonates, but singing about blossoming trees in Shevat/January may not make sense. How can we stay true to our tradition when the weather doesn’t cooperate? And as mindfulness practitioners, how might we elevate the news of undesirable weather? Those of us who live in the Northeastern United States are usually blessed with bountiful precipitation year-round. Furthermore, our religion is no longer based on the careful balance between following God’s laws and receiving in return enough rain for our crops to survive. The Reform movement even removed the second paragraph of the Shema from prayer books to make the bold statement: we are modern Jews—we do not believe that we can influence God to change the weather by keeping the commandments of our tradition. Recent evidence […]

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A Summer to Write Home About

In one of my favorite lines from the classic 1979 summer camp film “Meatballs,” head counselor Tripper, played by Bill Murray, tells new camper, Rudy Gerner, “You make one good friend a summer, and you’re doing pretty well.” Indeed, new friends can be one important way to measure a summer. And, as we’re all asked “How was your summer?” we may choose to answer it by where we traveled, how much we relaxed, the amount of time we spent with our family, how successful we were in keeping the gnats out of our mouths, and so on. At Hazon, where a core part of our mission revolves around providing transformative Jewish experiences, we look and measure our summer by the impact that we’ve had, the lives that we’ve changed, and – yes – the new friends we’ve made along the way. And, in that regard, what a beautiful summer it was, perhaps best embodied by transformative experiences ranging from Adamah Farm Vacations to Jewish spiritual leadership training institutes to our longest running program, Camp Isabella Freedman for Senior Adults, all occurring at our beautiful Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. And just as my parents would save a summer’s worth […]

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What does “access” mean to you?

Dear Friends, One of the most powerful transformative experiences is helping others. Last year, with the help of our supporters, Hazon proudly gave over $200,000 in scholarships and subsidies for people to attend our programs – whether twenty-somethings participating in the Adamah farming fellowship; families participating in Jewish holiday retreats; or senior adults seeking two weeks of respite at Camp Isabella Freedman. With increased interest in our programs and a still struggling economy, we are getting more and more requests for help, and your support is needed now more than ever. As a response to the growing need, we are launching our Access Fund. We are calling this an access fund and not a scholarship fund because we deeply believe that people should have access to our programs, whatever their financial situation. And we’ve lived this value over many years with the support of generous donors like you who understand that part of creating a healthier and more sustainable world is ensuring that the resources we have to offer should be available to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances. Listen to the words of some of our participants: Right now in the Jewish calendar, we’re counting the Omer – literally […]

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Jewish Week – “Retreat and Advance”

Retreat And Advance Debra Nussbaum Cohen – Staff Writer May 5, 2006 Next Labor Day weekend, Rabbis Jeff Roth and Joanna Katz will carefully remove the Torah scroll from its home at Elat Chayyim, the Jewish retreat center they founded 16 years ago, and carry it on the first leg of the journey to its new home. Then they’ll hand it off to pairs of friends who will take turns walking the holy scroll 62 miles, to the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Removing the Torah will be the final act by Elat Chayyim’s leaders before they close the retreat center’s doors, bringing to an end a grand experiment in the spiritual renewal of Judaism. People with every kind of Jewish background went to Elat Chayyim to learn and practice meditation, experiment with neo-chasidic practices like chanting and ecstatic movement, and bring an environmentally sensitive consciousness to every act. The problem was that its ramshackle site was too uncomfortably funky for all but the most committed, and its creators and leaders were focused more on teaching than on finances. (more…)

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