Being With What Is

A Silent Jewish Mindfulness Retreat for Young Adults

Tuesday, August 13 – Sunday, August 18, 2024

Wisdom House, Litchfield CT

We are excited to offer our first in-depth retreat specifically designed for young adults! This program invites you to slow down, connect with yourself and others, and drop into what matters most amidst the challenges of daily life and the ongoing difficulties we have been facing in the wake of the tumultuous events of this past year.

Utilizing the gifts of mindfulness, embodiment, song, prayer, and a variety of Jewish spiritual teachings, you will:

        • Learn tools and practices to reconnect with your innate wisdom and authenticity.
        • Nurture your capacity for resilience, compassion, and well-being.
        • Cultivate insight and wise action in response to the challenges of our world.
        • Refresh and renew your body, heart, mind and soul.

Falling between the Jewish holidays of Tisha B’av, a day of mourning, and Tu B’av, a day of celebrating love, our retreat is a sacred space to open our hearts to grief, love, and everything in between.

This retreat will be held mostly in social silence. All folks in their 20’s and 30’s are welcome. No experience with mindfulness and/or Judaism is necessary; this retreat is open to beginner and advanced practitioners alike.

Pricing

Private room with private ensuite bath: $1,200
Private room with shared hall bath: $950
Shared double room with shared hall bath: $750

Early Bird Special:

Register by Friday, June 21 and Save $50!

Retreat Costs and Financial Support

 

We understand that the costs for a retreat can be prohibitive. To help with this, we are offering three payment options for this retreat. Level 1 covers the cost of your participation.

If you need additional financial assistance, please request support using this form. Please fill out the form before registering for the retreat. We will review your request promptly and be in touch with you about the level of support we are able to provide and how to register.

If you are a college student, we ask that you first be in touch with your school’s Hillel to inquire about funding for summer programs.

Schedule

Participants should plan to arrive at Wisdom House between 3:00 – 5:00 PM ET on Tuesday, August 13 to register and get settled. The retreat will begin with dinner at 5:30 PM and an opening session at 6:30 PM.

The retreat will end at 12 noon on Sunday, August 18. Participants are welcome to stay through lunch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this retreat for me?

This retreat is open to beginner and advanced students alike. If you have never meditated before, you are welcome! Our practice guidance will be both accessible and deep.

We strive to make this retreat inclusive for all bodies through ensuring the availability of gender neutral bathrooms and chairs without arms. If there are additional ways that we can support your sense of belonging, please reach out to us.

Meditation is contra-indicated to some mental health conditions. If you are not sure whether retreat is for you at this time, please contact us at [email protected]

What is social silence?

Shortly after our opening programs on the first day, we will enter into what we call “social silence.” This means that we are inviting you to not speak socially with other participants, check your phone/email, or otherwise “exit” the silence for the duration of each day. This enables you to slow down, sink deeply into the practices, and allows you to truly “re-source” yourself in the spaciousness of the silence. You will have the chance to ask questions of the faculty after instructional periods, in small groups, and during designated Q&A periods throughout the day. We will also be chanting and singing together each morning.

How are we holding the political atmosphere of this moment?

Coming together in a Jewish space to practice can be a deep source of care for ourselves and each other in a time shaped by the 10/7 attack and its aftermath. Each of us has a different experience and different relationships and proximity to the war and its violence and its victims. Acknowledging the diversity of our community, our practice is to notice the closing and othering that can naturally arise in our hearts in response to this moment, and to cultivate openness and understanding.

We believe that our spiritual practice can be profoundly supportive for us to navigate the ever-changing circumstances of our world, and nurture our capacity for resiliency, clear perception, healing, and wise response. Coming on retreat is not a bypass of the suffering in our world; on the contrary, we explicitly do this work in service of building the world we wish to live in, beginning in our own hearts and minds.

Please click the link below to read our framing for practicing on retreat in a time of war:

How will we be observing Jewish tradition?

While our retreat is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, you are welcome to participate regardless of your Jewish background. All Hebrew terms will be translated and explained. Our Jewish practice will be egalitarian, contemplative, heart-centered, songful, prayerful, embodied, expansive, and deep.

We will be engaging in prayer and Shabbat ritual as a full group, and there will be time built into the schedule for folks with a personal prayer practice to pray. We will be using instruments on Shabbat. There will be an opportunity to say the Mourner’s Kaddish every day.

What kind of meditation will we be practicing?

We will be immersed in the practice of mindfulness, paying attention to the present moment with non-judgmental, loving awareness. While mindfulness is inherent and central to Jewish tradition, our methods for deepening mindfulness on retreat have been learned from the Buddhist tradition. Here at IJS, we integrate mindfulness with Jewish wisdom and contemplative Jewish practice.

What does a typical day look like?

Each day will include periods of seated and walking meditation sessions with instructions, as well as a session for Q&A, and opportunities for small group meetings and check-ins with teachers. Additionally, there will be prayerful chanting each morning, teachings, movement practice sessions, 3 meals a day, and a beautiful celebration of shabbat to culminate our retreat. Retreat days start early, at 6:30 AM ET, and will wrap up by 9:30 PM ET.

Retreat Faculty

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife
IJS Faculty Fellow

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. She serves as Founding Kohenet of Kesher Pittsburgh, Program Director for Beloved Garden, inaugural Faculty Fellow with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and also enjoys working with the Jewish Learning Collaborative. Additionally, she delights in serving as a shlichat tzibbur, life spiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, teacher, facilitator, liturgist and songstress. Her work in these realms is informed by her lived experience as a queer, bi-racial, Jewish person, her belief that Book, Body and Earth are equal sources of wisdom, the quandaries she has encountered as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School, and her deep commitment to a thriving, liberatory Jewish future. Keshira received Kohenet smicha in 2017 and earned her BS 2000 and MS 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University. After many years of traveling and living in Australia, in 2018, she and her beloved returned home to Osage and Haudenosaunee land, also called Pittsburgh, PA.

Rebecca Schisler
Core Faculty Member

Rebecca is a meditation teacher, artist, and Jewish educator. A devoted contemplative practitioner, she has led groups and taught classes and retreats with Or HaLev, Awakened Heart Project, Orot, Wilderness Torah, Pardes, and Stanford School of Medicine. She was previously the Director of Student Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel, and co-authored the Mahloket Matters Schools Curriculum with the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. A student rabbi at ALEPH, Rebecca is passionate about integrating ancestral wisdom traditions with innovative approaches to personal and collective healing and liberation. She teaches Jewish spirituality as an embodied, holistic, and accessible path, with relevant and timely wisdom for all.

Yael Shy

Yael Shy
CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC

Yael Shy is the CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC, where she teaches and consults on mindfulness for universities, corporations, and private clients around the world. She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and the founder of Mindful NYU, the largest campus-based mindfulness initiative in the US. Yael is a graduate of the IJS Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Certification and has over a decade of teaching and consulting experience and 20 years of meditation practice experience. She is adjunct faculty at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Or HaLev, as well as at New York University. She has been featured on Good Morning America, CBS, Fox 5 News, and in Time Magazine and the Harvard Business Review. Connect with Yael at yaelshy.com and yaelshy1 on Instagram.

Jes Heppler
Retreat Manager and Assistant Teacher

Jes is a writer, researcher, meditation teacher, and writing doula. As a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at UC Berkeley, they are writing a dissertation on gut feelings and the body. During Jes’ doctoral studies, their long-standing philosophical interests in perception, knowledge, and emotion brought Jes to explore these topics through Jewish and contemplative practices. Since then, they founded and led the Queer Sit Collective in Boston, MA, and have taught Jewish meditation in Paris, France for the Radical Mitzva community. As a writer, practitioner, and teacher, Jes is passionate about exploring the ineffable through mindfulness, felt sense, and language. They’re currently a student in the Somatic Experiencing Practitioner Training and the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and Or HaLev.