Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
A Weekend of Jewish Song Singing and Sharing
August 23 - 26th, 2018 / Falls Village, CT
Join us in the age old tradition of coming together through song! Together, we will sing and share an array of Jewish song traditions, inclusive of a wide range of Jewish ancestry and religious practices. The retreat will be structured around Shabbat, hour-long song sharing and teaching sessions, and community sings – with plenty of time to explore the farm, swim in the lake, sit by the pool, or go on a hike.
The retreat is open to lovers of Jewish song, new and old. Whether you have an abundance of songs in your back pocket you’re excited to share, are longing to expand your repertoire, or are new to Jewish songs altogether, we welcome you to join us! We see the array of Jewish songs as expansive, including but not limited to songs based on liturgical text, niggunim (wordless melodies), piyyutim, Jewish folk songs, Hebrew chanting, Jewish labor songs, songs in Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic, Jewish gospel, songs written by Jews, sung by Jews, etc.
2018 Lead Teachers
Vocalist and scholar, Galeet Dardashti, is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. She has earned a reputation as a trail-blazing performer of Middle Eastern Jewish music as founder and leader of internationally renowned all-female musical group, Divahn, and through her multi-disciplinary commissions, The Naming (Six Points Fellowship), and Monajat (FJC Inaugural Music Commission). Time Out New York has called Dardashti’s work “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post described it as “heart-stopping.” As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, specializing in cultural politics and contemporary Mizrahi music and culture in Israel; she is currently Assistant Professor of Jewish Music & Musician-in-Residence at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan.
Taya Mâ (Taya Shere) plays passionately in the realms of transformative ritual and embodied vocalization. Taya Mâ is co-founder and co-direct of the Kohenet Institute. Her chant albums Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night, Torah Tantrika, and This Bliss have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” She is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook, and is a practitioner of Ancestral Lineage Healing and Somatic Experiencing. Taya Mâ is faculty at Starr-King School for the Ministry, co-leads Makam Shekhina, a multi-religious Jewish/Sufi spiritual community, and mentors emergent spiritual leaders in embodied presence and counter-oppressive devotion. She makes home, music and other magic in the California East Bay, and regularly both teaches and offers private session work online.
Josh Waletzky is a world-leading Yiddish songwriter, deeply rooted in traditional Yiddish song. For over 50 years Josh has been singing, teaching, and composing Yiddish songs in a variety of settings, this year at the Uriel Weinreich Yiddish Summer Program and at Yiddish New York. Over the past decade, Josh has mentored several of the younger talents on the Yiddish song scene under the auspices of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (with support from the New York State Council Folk Arts program). And this year marks the start of a new, ongoing project: the Yiddish Singing Society, where Josh leads weekly song-learning sessions.
Sessions are led by a wide array of song leaders using a variety of formats. Some include histories and stories, others just be about singing the songs themselves. No instruments are used on Shabbat unless otherwise noted.
Shabbat services are offered Friday night and Saturday morning. with multiple davenning options.
Falling on Saturday night post Havdallah, the concert features the lead teacher and core team.
Time to sing all together!
Here is a sample schedule to give you an idea of the flow of a retreat.
2-5 pm – Check-in
5-5:30 pm Camp Teva Orientation
5-6 pm – Community Sing
6-7 pm – Dinner
7 - 8pm – To Hold & To Energize: Bringing Singing Space to Life
7:30-9:30 pm – Community Jam
7-8 am – Avodat Lev / Yoga
8-9 am – Breakfast
10:15 am-12 pm – Song Intensive Part 1
12-1 pm – Lunch
1-2 pm – JOFEE Activity
2-4 pm – Song Intensive Part 2
5-6 pm Camp Teva Kids’ Dinner
5:30-6 pm – Candle Lighting
6-6:45 pm – Let my People Sing!
6:45-8:15 pm – Kabbalat Shabbat
8:30-10 pm – Dinner
10 pm – Community Sing / Tisch
7-8 am – Yoga
8-9:30 am – Breakfast
8:30 am-12 pm – Shabbat Services
12-1 pm – Lunch
1:45-2:45 pm – Song Session Slot 1
3-4 pm – Song Session Slot 2
4:15 -5:15 pm – Free time / Nap Time / Farm Tour / Mincha
5:30 - 6:30pm – Song Session Slot 3
6:45-7:45 pm – Dinner
7:45-8:45 pm – Community Sing Back / Ma’ariv
8:45 pm – Havdallah
9:30 pm – Participatory Concert
7-8 am – Yoga / Avodat Lev / Traditional Schacharit
7:30-9 am – Breakfast
9-10:15 am – Song Session Slot 4
10:30-11:30 am – Community Sing
11:45 am-12:30 pm – Closing Circle & Sing
12:30-1 pm – Lunch
2017 Lead Teachers
Aviva Chernick is an award-winning musician who has brought her voice and presence in performance and prayer to audiences and congregations in North America and across the globe for over a dozen years. She garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following as the lead singer of the twice JUNO-nominated group Jaffa Road and was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for her solo music project, a collection of original songs for prayer entitled Eili: When I Arrived You Were Already There. Inspired by her work as a Ba’alat Tefilah (prayer leader), and by her study of the Balkan Judeo-Spanish tradition under the tutelage of the legendary Flory Jagoda, Aviva has crafted a unique new sound defined by her distinctive vocal presence. Aviva brings her meditation practice and training in the teaching of this practice to all of her work. It is in her teaching where Aviva integrates all of her learning, facilitating adventures for freeing the voice and studies of the relationship between song and silence in both secular and faith-based contexts.
Koach Baruch Frazier, a BlackQueerTransJew is a healer and musician who is working towards the day everyone experiences liberation. He spends his days helping people reconnect with the world around them through better hearing and providing love and support through revolutionary listening. Koach’s heart beats to the rhythm of tikvah, t’shuvah and tzedek.
Yosef Goldman is a spiritual artist, musician, pastoral caregiver, and activist passionate about building sacred community. Yosef was ordained as a rabbi in 2013 by the Jewish Theological Seminary with a concentration in pastoral care and counseling and hold a Masters in Sacred Music for JTS and a BA from Yeshiva University. Raised Orthodox in NYC, Yosef has since taught and facilitated sacred prayer space in communities throughout the Jewish denominational spectrum, including B’nai Jeshurun, Romemu, The Carlebach Shul, and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. As a singer and percussionist, Yosef has performed and recorded with a wide range of Jewish artists, including Basya Schechter of Pharaoh’s Daughter, Shir Yaakov, Kirtan Rabbi and The Miami Boys Choir, and has curated showcases for the Sephardic Music Festival. He currently performs as a vocalist with Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble, and with the Middle Eastern Jewish music ensemble the Epichorus. He is a founding member of the Philadelphia Jewish music collective the Shir Singing Circle, and Creative Advisor to Mechon Hadar’s Rising Song Institute. Yosef is a rabbi at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel in Philadelphia where he lives with his wife, Rabbi Annie Lewis, and their daughter, Zohar.
Ramón Tasat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has studied at the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, the Manuel de Falla Conservatory of Music and the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a Doctorate degree in Voice Performance. Ramón has toured Europe with world-renowned Dr. Robert Shaw, and he has participated in international festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to television and radio appearances, Ramón has been the recipient of numerous awards including First Place at the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center’s Recital Competition and a National Endowment of the Arts Grant.
2016 Lead Teachers
Hazzan Jessi Roemer is a composer, prayer-leader, leader of community song, and performer of Jewish World Music. She has performed and taught, solo and with her ensemble, EZUZ, in several U.S. cities, in Israel/Palestine, Europe, Canada, and New Zealand. A second-generation hazzan, Jessi grew up in the Washington D.C. area, surrounded by her mother's Yiddish, Hebrew, and American Folk music, cantorial melodies, and the Bluegrass-Klezmer music of the Fabrangen Fiddlers. Her music is also influenced by American blues, pop, and jazz, and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Reflecting her roots, influences, studies, and travels - which include having spent the 90s living in Jerusalem - Jessi's music is a 21st-century hybrid of European, Middle Eastern, Sephardic, North and South American styles. A founding member of the Philadelphia Shir Singing Circle and a member of several other Philadephia music organizations, Jessi has been delightedly involved with Let My People Sing since 2016. Ordained by ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Jessi is the Hazzan of Society Hill Synagogue in Center City Philadelphia, PA. More information, recordings, and video at www.jessiroemer.com.
Joey Weisenberg : Musician, prayer leader, author and teacher, Joey Weisenberg is the Creative Director of Mechon Hadar’s Rising Song Institute, which aims to cultivate the grassroots musical-spiritual creativity of the Jewish people. Joey works to educate and train communities around the world to unlock their musical and spiritual potential, and to make music a lasting and joy-filled force in synagogues and in Jewish life. Joey runs various workshops and trainings across the country, including the Singing Communities Intensive each December at Mechon Hadar. Joey has authored Building Singing Communities, andThe Torah of Music (October 2017), published by Mechon Hadar, He is a multi-instrumental musician, singer, and composer. His nigunim, published in 6 CDs and a Songbook, have become popular worldwide. Joey also curates the Tefillah and Music recordings on the Mechon Hadar website, which allows people to learn melodies and nusah for most Jewish prayer services.
& featuring Cantor George Mordechai
2015 Lead Teachers
Katie Down is a licensed music psychotherapist and sound meditation teacher in NY. She also is a multi-instrumentalist, playing in a variety of genres including Sephardic, Balkan, jazz, classical and improvised music and is the co-founder of the Sephardic ensemble Sofie Salonika and the infamous ukulele group The Ukuladies! Katie plays glass and other homemade instruments with NewBorn Trio which has been commissioned to create a sound score for the theatrical production of Haruki Murakami's short story, "Sleep" to be premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in 2017. Katie taught traditional songs in Ladino at Let My People Sing with her collaborator Jessica Lurie in 2015.
Rabbi Andrew Hahn
Shoshana Jedwab: As a child, Shoshana would drum on parked cars, plates, tables, books and other people's bodies. Hailing from a family of rabbis and community leaders decimated by the Holocaust, Shoshana became a prize winning Jewish Studies Day School teacher, and the Jewish Life Coordinator at the A.J. Heschel School. Shoshana also holds down the beat as ritual drummer and worship leader for Kohenet, Romemu, LabShul, Kirtan Rabbi and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Shoshana Jedwab is also a liturgist and singer-songwriter. The original songs of Shoshana's July 2016 album, “I Remember”, and upcoming recording, “Where You Go”, are being sung in churches, synagogues, weddings and marches across the country. Shoshana Jedwab was included in Jewish Rock Radio's Jewish Women Who Rock the Worship World.
Samuel Torjman Thomas