Awakening in Challenging Times

Program Description

Awakening in Challenging Times: A Pardes & Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat

We live in challenging times full of uncertainty. How do we continue to be our best selves in the midst of this challenge? How do we find a center of calm stability even in the midst of instability and confusion? How do we reconnect with our divine nature and essential joy and love so that we can most effectively be agents of transformation for ourselves, our communities, our societies and the world?

Our tradition is alas no stranger to instability, upheaval and threat and so can provide us with deep resources for clarity, openness and vitality at times of challenge. Combining prayer, mindfulness meditation, silence, text study, and other modes of Jewish spiritual practice, this retreat will introduce participants to the profound depths of Jewish spirituality and offer the possibility of finding clarity and presence in an ever-changing world and life-transforming meaning in the Jewish tradition.

Most of the retreat will be spent in silence, meditation, and yoga, including meditation instruction and questions and answers. There will also be daily teachings as well as text study and discussion, and additional spiritual practices that complement and support our meditation practice. Beginners and more advanced practitioners are welcome.

  • Only individuals who have been vaccinated to the standards of the CDC can attend
  • You must receive a negative PCR test performed within the last 72 hours prior to your arrival.
  • The retreat will follow all CDC, state and local health recommendations at the time of the retreat.
    • That is, if CDC, state or the county say at that point that all people meeting inside should be masked, the policy of the retreat will be to enforce masks. If they say vaccinated individuals do not need to be masked then we will follow that. If it changes in the middle of the retreat, we will change as well.
  • We will follow the official ‘recommendations’ even if they are not requirements. Whatever the board of health, CDC for that area recommends, we will require.
    • We will enforce the strictest of the available recommendations.

Rabbi James Jacobson Maisels Ph.D. (Faculty) is the founder and executive director of Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation ( He has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for almost twenty-five years. He received his Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago and rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes, a past Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes. He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Romemu Yeshiva and has taught and innovated programs in Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University, Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study and practice and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.

Rabbi Lisa GoldsteinRabbi Lisa Goldstein (Faculty) is a teacher, coach and consultant with almost 25 years of executive experience. She teaches a wide variety of online courses with an emphasis on spiritual resilience, cultivating the capacity for love and awe, meditation and the teachings on R. Nahman of Breslov. She also works one-on-one to support people in their spiritual journeys.

Educated at Brown University and Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Goldstein has worked as an assistant rabbi, the director of Hillel of San Diego, and the executive director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She has helped create and implement online learning programs, including self-paced highly produced courses. She is a faculty member for Jewish Pedagogies for Well Being at M2, a research program for master educators, and is currently working for certification in NARM, a therapeutic approach to healing developmental trauma.

She lives in New York City with her husband and foster son.

Shira Abramowitz (Faculty) is a mindfulness teacher, group learning specialist, and the executive director of Summit Impact, a nonprofit platform for collaboration for social good. She spends much of her time designing social learning environments where compassionate practice invites deeper learning and collective action. Shira completed the Institute of Jewish Spirituality teacher training program, and teaches mindfulness and meditation on retreats, through virtual learning programs, and in organizational settings.

Ami Weintraub (Retreat Manager) (he/they) is the founder of Ratzon: Center for Healing and Resistance, a queer, Jewish, and anarchist community center in Pittsburgh.  Ami is a writer, a community organizer and an educator at local  Hebrew schools. They are a Rabbinic student in the Aleph Ordination Program and a two-time graduate of the Romemu Yeshiva.


I don’t think it is premature to say this: thanks for changing my life.

–Rose Mardi

Awakening the Divine was a deeply special opportunity to bridge two worlds I have straddled for years which I have known in my heart of hearts are beautifully connected – my contemplative/meditative practice within my Jewish spirituality. I have never felt so at home in both practices as I did in this space.

–Einat, 23
New York

I never knew that Judaism could be so much fun! This experience fed my soul and when I returned from the retreat, I found myself feeling deeply nourished. I felt my heart open up throughout the week of meditation and Hebrew chanting and the silence helped me fall in love with my Self. I am truly grateful for all of the beautiful souls that accompanied me on this journey into our own unique expression of the divine. I am especially grateful to our incredible teachers who seem to have endless compassion and kindness for everyone. I look forward to facing future challenges with some of the skills I have learned through this program.

–Elizabeth Koosed, 22
Brooklyn, NY.

the retreat dramatically expanded the range of mediums for which to connect spiritually. I have learned beautiful Jewish chants, a very effective meditation technique, and a lot about how to deal with difficult emotions. I have taken a lot of what I learned on the retreat and implemented it into my life, and I have definitely seen an improvement in term of interacting in the world more peacefully. The Jewish Meditation retreat was really fun, life-changing, and a truly invaluable experience.

–Ryan Snyder

Sample schedule of a typical day:

6:00 Wake up
6:30 Meditation
7:00 Chanting and Morning Prayers
8:00 Breakfast (silent)
9:00 Daily Meditation Instructions
9:50 Walk Practice
10:05 Sit
10:55 Yoga
12:00 Sit + Group Meetings
12:45 Lunch (silent)
2:30 Talmud Torah
4:00 Minchah Sit + Q&A
4:55 Walk + Group Meetings
5:30 Sit + Group Meetings
6:15 Dinner (silent)
7:15 Meditation Talk
8:15 Walk
8:45 Sit/Ma’ariv
9:30 Bedtime

The Retreat will be held at the Capital Camps Retreat Center which is located in Waynesboro, PA outside of DC and Baltimore.

We provide multiple rates of tuition to make the retreat affordable.

Student: $449
Double: $949 (1 bed in a double room)
Single: $1949

Additional limited financial aid off the standard price is available. Please apply online and request financial aid as part of the application process. We will review your request and get back to you.

There are a limited number of needs-based scholarships available. Financial aid is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Contact with any questions or for more information.