Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
A Weekend of Jewish Song Singing and Sharing
August 22 - 25th, 2019 / Falls Village, CT
Join us for our annual summer retreat! This retreat will be structured around Shabbat, singing intensives, hour-long song sharing and teaching sessions, and community sings – with plenty of time to explore the farm, swim in the lake, or go on a hike.
Let My People Sing! brings together singing traditions across Jewish time and space-- from ancient to contemporary music, and everything in between. We sing in Ladino, Hebrew, Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, and in languages from around the world— wherever Jews dwelled in diaspora, they sang, and we are still singing! Our project includes restoring lost or broken lineages of cultural and ancestral transmission, and simultaneously elevating, celebrating, learning and teaching the incredible new music coming out of our communities. Through this work we connect to our spiritual, familial and chosen ancestors, we heal trauma, and we deepen our human interconnectedness.
At Let My People Sing! everyone can be a leader and a learner of song. Our retreats are a place to practice and develop leadership and new skills with the support, mentorship, and love of the core team, the teachers, and the entire community. Our vision is for more kinds of people to learn how to embody and lead Jewish music and tradition, transforming us individually and transforming Judaism as a whole. This is a project of spreading seeds of song that go out into the world to sprout new singing communities and a justice-based singing culture far and wide. We create retreats where people can experience the potential of liberation by connecting closely in communal spaces.
2019 Lead Teachers
Rahel Musleah Through the vivid prism of her family's story, Rahel Musleah introduces audiences to the distinctive heritage of the Jews of India and Iraq. The seventh generation of a Calcutta family, she traces her roots to seventeenth-century Baghdad. Her multi-media visual, song, and story presentations and Shabbat programming featuring Baghdadi-Indian tropes and melodies offer a rare and intimate view of a rich culture little-known to most.
Rahel is an award-winning journalist, author, singer, speaker, and educator. She also leads tours of Jewish India informed by her distinctive “insider’s” perspective. Her next tours are scheduled for Nov. 7-20, 2019 and Feb. 13-26, 2020. Rahel is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She sings with New York’s Zamir Chorale and enjoys Israeli dancing. She lives in Roslyn Heights, NY, and is passing down the legacy of the Indian Jewish community to her two children, Shira and Shoshana. Please visit her websites: www.rahelsjewishindia.com, and www.explorejewishindia.com.
Anat Halevy Hochberg is a Brooklyn-based musician, teacher, and ritual leader. Anat grounds her practice as a ba'al tefila (prayer leader) in her study of traditional Jewish text and connection with the Earth and the Divine. She is influenced by her training as a classical musician, earth-based experiential Jewish ritual and education, and family and community traditions (from Israel, Poland, Hungary, Yemen, Boston, and beyond). Anat has a passion for leading song and seeks to empower and back others in raising their voices. Anat performs as a solo artist and with collaborators, and has recently recorded with artists such as Joey Weisenberg, Miriam Marges, and George Mordecai. She recently completed two years of study at Yeshivat Hadar and was a Fellow in the Rising Song Institute. Learn more about her work at anathalevyhochberg.com
Naftali Ejdelman, a native Yiddish speaker and lifelong teacher, uses Yiddish education as a way to connect people to each other and to their roots. He currently teaches Yiddish and runs a Yiddish Havura in Northampton, MA and teaches middle school math at the Lubavicher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow, MA. Naftali will be sharing Yiddish songs from his great-aunt and great grandmother, both of whom were renowned Yiddish singers.
2019 Featured Teacher
Arielle Korman played violin for Simchat Torah for the first time in the second grade (those hakafot don’t feel any less endless now that she is an adult.) Jewish music has always been a part of the air she breathes. She remembers standing in the middle of her living room as a child discovering that she could belt out the niggun-inspired parts of Fiddler on the Roof most successfully when in character, adopting an over-the-top cantorial-ness. She has since changed her singing vibe quite a bit, but after a l’chaim or two, who knows what might come out? For the past few years, Arielle has been writing her own Jewish melodies and songs, sharing several at Kehilat Romemu where she is a periodic davening leader. A violinist, singer-songwriter, and visual artist, Arielle finds home as a a cultural organizer at JFREJ (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice). She is also a co-founder of the JOC (Jews of Color) Torah Academy and an active member of Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change. She has taught at the National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute, tutors b’nai mitzvah students, and recently has begun facilitating trainings to combat antisemitism. Arielle is currently pursuing a PhD. in Religion (Jewish Studies) at Columbia University.
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
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.
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