Awakening the Divine: A Jewish Spirituality Retreat

Program Description

Awakening the Divine: A Pardes North America & 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.

The retreat will take place in-person at Camp Ramah of New England.

Please note: Retreat cabins are winterized. Each cabin is fully insulated and has heat. All the meeting/programming spaces are also fully insulated with heat. However, you will be experiencing New England in January! Pack layers, and bring your winter coat, snow boots, hats and gloves. Walking between buildings will be cold, and if there is snow on the ground, the terrain will be bumpy. Roads and walkways will be plowed/shoveled and sanded as needed. Mud is also a possibility if there is a mid-winter thaw. 

The retreat is co-sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. 

Rabbi James Jacobson Maisels Ph.D. (Faculty) is the founder and executive director of Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation (OrHaLev.net). He has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for more than 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.

 

Yael Shy (Faculty) is a meditation teacher, author of What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017) and CEO/founder of Mindfulness Consulting.

Yael Shy is the CEO/founder of Mindfulness Consulting where she supports individuals, higher-education institutions, and businesses with transformative mindfulness coaching and consulting, and teaching for more ease, joy, and growth.She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and facilitates Choose Joy, a 5-Week Meditation Experience for Less Stress and More Joy, and Flourish, a 12-Week Group Coaching Mindfulness Program. She also teaches for the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, Or Halev, and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

 

Shira Abramowitz (Faculty) is a meditation teacher, social impact leader, and community-builder. She completed the Institute for Jewish Spirituality JMMTT teacher training program, and teaches meditation for various programs online and in-person. She is the founder and executive director of Summit Impact, a 501(c)(3) focused on activating the power of community for social good. And a co-founder of Up & Up Creative, an agency focused on program design, events, and social impact campaigns. Shira holds a bachelors in commerce from McGill University and a masters degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she focused on social cognitive neuroscience and adult group learning.  

 

Sarah Hurwitz (Faculty) is the author of Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a DeeperConnection to Life – in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There), a book about her experience rediscovering Judaism as an adult. From 2009 to 2017, Sarah Hurwitz served as a White House speechwriter, first as a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama and then as head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. She completed the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is in the final unit of hospital chaplaincy training.

We are so glad that you are going to join us on this powerful retreat experience. We believe in the spirit of generosity as an essential part of the practice. We also acknowledge that financial abilities differ for everyone and so we strive to make this retreat accessible to those who wish to participate, by offering different payment levels based on residence during the retreat.

Bunk
Single bed in a shared camp bunk. $599

Double Room & Shared Bath
Single bed in a room shared with one other person and a common bathroom. $1,097

Bunk Bed with Private Bath
A bunk bed in a small bunk shared with other person with a private bathroom for the bunk. $1,097

Double Queen Bed with Private Bath
Queen-sized bed in a nicer room shared with one other person with a private bathroom for the room. $1,497

Single with Common Bath – SOLD OUT
Single full-sized* bed in a private room with a common bathroom. $1,698

Single with Shared Bath – SOLD OUT
Single full-sized* bed in a private room with a bathroom shared with one other room. $1,798

Single Queen with Private Bath 
Single queen-sized bed in a nicer private room with its own private bathroom. $2,797

Single with Full Bed and Private Bath 
A full-sized bed in a private room with its own private bathroom. $2,797

Limited financial aid is available. For those requesting financial aid please fill out the Financial Aid Request Form.


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


The retreat will be held from January 10-15, 2023

Sample Schedule of a Typical Day

5:45 AM Wake up
6:15 AM Meditation
6:45 AM Shacharit / Morning Prayer Practice
8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Sit & Instructions
9:45 AM Walk
10:00 AM Sit
10:45 AM Yoga
12:00 PM Sit + Group Meetings
12:45 PM Lunch
2:30 PM Talmud Torah (Torah Study)
4:00 PM Sit – Blessing
4:45 PM Walk / Minchah 
5:10 PM Sit + Q&A
6:10 PM Dinner (Silent)
7:15 PM Meditation Talk
8:00 PM Evening Program: Hitbodedut
9:15 PM Return to Silence / Sit / Ma’ariv
9:30 PM Bedtime

 

Our buildings (Dining Hall and meditation hall) have HVAs with high quality air filters and very good air exchange. When using classrooms and other program areas we will also have fans. 

Given the ongoing Covid crisis, we are constantly reviewing our Covid policy to best protect those attending our retreat. We are grateful for your patience and flexibility as we continue to adapt to the ever-changing pandemic. Below is a description of our Covid policy at this time, including prevention measures and on-site response to a possible Covid infection.

But please note: Given the dynamic nature of Covid, all of these policies are subject to change and we may add additional testing and masking requirements.

We understand that conversations around Covid-19 can hold a lot of intensity and emotion for many of us. We understand that people have varied medical needs and risk tolerances. We offer this protocol with great sensitivity and care.

Summary of policy:
Everyone will be required to be up to date on their Covid vaccine per CDC guidelines and test negative on a rapid test on the morning of Tuesday, January 10th before they arrive. Depending on Covid rates in January we may require indoor masking in certain places, and masks are encouraged when sitting in close proximity to other participants.

Please click here to read the entire policy.

 

When should participants arrive and plan to depart?

Registration and check in will take place between 3-4:30pm. Participants should plan to arrive between 1-4pm. The program starts promptly at 5pm. The retreat ends at noon on Sunday Jan. 15.

 

For those traveling to camp without a car, what transportation is available (other than car rental) to get to Camp Ramah New England?

The following locations are all less than an hour from camp. Also, after Dec. 1 we will set up a ride share board for participants to carpool or share taxis from the bus, train, or airport.

1) Amtrak or bus to Springfield, MA (28 min away)

2) T commuter rail from Boston to Worcester (45 min away)

3) Fly to BDL (Bradley airport), an airport just north of Hartford, CT (50 min away)

 

The following locations are all less than an hour from camp. Also, after Dec. 1 we will set up a ride share board for participants to carpool or share taxis from the bus, train, or airport.

1) Amtrak or bus to Springfield, MA (28 min away)
2) T commuter rail from Boston to Worcester (45 min away)
3) Fly to BDL (Bradley airport), an airport just north of Hartford, CT (50 min away)

By Thursday, December 29: Full refund minus a $50 fee.

On or after January 1: No refunds. We will consider refund requests on a case-by-case basis depending on our ability to be refunded by the retreat center.  Refunds are not possible in principle after January 1st when we have committed to the retreat center. 

Contact retreat@orhalev.org with any questions or for more information.