Simchafest is perhaps the most joyous, and most diverse celebration of the holiday of Simchat Torah you will find. It takes the full spectrum of the community to manifest the joy of Simchafest at Isabella Freedman. Everyone is welcome – all ages, all streams, all colors, all identities.
We will be hosting two separate retreats: Sukkahfest over the start of Sukkot and Simchafest over Simchat Torah weekend. The option to stay on site during Chol HaMoed is not available.
We will have Traditional Egalitarian and Orthodox minyanim.
All Streams of Judaism flow from One Source! “AllStream” is our name for the gathering of diverse Jewish communities at Sukkahfest. AllStream (rather than “Mainstream”) Judaism seeks to validate all streams of Jewish spiritual expression, recognizing that All of the ways of being Jewish flow from and return to One Source.
Our various educators lead a series of outdoor classes throughout the holiday, as well as yoga, tours of our organic farm, and guided hikes on our trails. While many of our activities are family friendly, there will also be some dedicated programs for kids. These will make use of our farm and the natural environment of the retreat center.
Kids programming will be outdoors as much as possible, including in the rain; a raincoat, rain boots, hiking boots or sneakers, and a labeled water bottle are required.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is an award-winning author who serves as Scholar in Residence at National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). She has received the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Seminary, was named by Newsweek as a “rabbi to watch,” as a “faith leader to watch” by the Center for American Progress and has been a Washington Post Sunday crossword clue (83 Down). Her newest book, On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World–which comes out in paperback September 13th–is a National Jewish Book Award winner and an American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Honor Book, hailed by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley as “A must read for anyone navigating the work of justice and healing.” Her other books include Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting, a National Jewish Book Award finalist; Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion, shortlisted for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature; as well as The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism; Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism and more. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.
Kohenet Shamirah Bechirah aka Sarah Chandler is a Brooklyn-based Jewish educator, artist, activist, healer, and poet. She teaches, writes and consults on issues related to Judaism, earth-based spiritual practice, respectful workplaces, mindfulness, and farming. Previously, Sarah served as the Director of Romemu Yeshiva, Chief Compassion Officer of Jewish Initiative for Animals, and Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practices at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. An advanced student of Kabbalistic dream work at The School of Images, Sarah is the founder and lead trainer for “Soft as a Rock: Public Speaking for Sensitive Souls.” softasarock.com. Currently she is the CEO of Shamir Collective, as a coach and consultant to high profile artists and authors to launch new music and books.
Rabbi Ezra Weinberg is a shaliach tzibur, officiant and Jewish educator dedicated to creating connection and community. He is a native Philadelphian and holds an MA in Conflict Transformation. Reb Ezra officiates weddings and Bnai Mitzvot, teaches a University course called, “One G-d, Three Paths”, alongside a priest and Imam. He currently works with individuals and families within the Jewish community and founded ReVoice, a network of resources for Jewish going through divorce.
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