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Frequently Asked Questions – 2019

WHERE IS THE NATIONAL RETREAT?

It’s at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031.

IS THIS RETREAT FOR ME?

During our annual weekend, we gather in this ever-growing  community of formerly Orthodox/currently Orthodox/traditional/Ortho-curious folks and anyone who wants to experience a traditional Shabbat with other LGBTQ Jews.  During Shabbat we get to know each other, learn, sing, and shmooze, and Saturday night we share our talents and have lots of fun!  On Sunday we offer exciting out-of-the-box learning opportunities.

WHO PLANS THE NATIONAL RETREAT?

Eshel staff spearhead this weekend with the help of a group of volunteer leaders who help shape it.  We rely on participants to help make this weekend a success through their volunteering, and contributing by presenting on a topic related to the theme.

JOIN THE TEAM THAT MAKES THIS RETREAT HAPPEN. APPLY HERE

I WANT TO GIVE A SESSION. HOW DO I DO THAT?

If you have a topic or session you would like to give, please fill out this short form. We will be in touch to let you know if your topic has been accepted.  Not all topics must relate to our theme but it would be nice if they did.  Share with us what you know or create something new.  Just for sharing your session idea you will receive a $25 rebate after registering.  (Only one rebate per person.)

APPLY TO GIVE A SESSION. FILL OUT THIS FORM.

WILL THERE BE CHILDCARE?

We provide childcare at various times throughout the weekend, especially when there is programming for adults.  Our wonderful educator and childcare provider, Tracy Patton, will be joining us this year to make the weekend fun and engaging for children of all ages.  Parents/guardians need to be supervising their children when childcare is NOT provided.

IS THIS RETREAT KOSHER?

All food is strictly kosher, and all activities are Shomer Shabbat friendly.  There will be traditional davening/prayer. We will offer a variety of learning options, from traditional text study to experiential workshops covering a wide variety of subjects.

Isabella Freedman is committed to providing you with Glatt kosher, wholesome food that is sustainably grown and locally produced when possible, while also providing a distinctly Jewish culinary experience. They make every effort to serve the produce that is grown on their own six-acre organic farm. All meals are served buffet style and are strictly kosher. For this reason, no food from the outside may be brought into the Main Building. Any questions about this may be directed to the Mashgichim (Kosher Kitchen Supervisors). We will make every effort to accommodate special food needs as long as they are communicated to us at least two weeks prior to your arrival.

There is a Mashgiach/Masgichah on site at all times; Isabella Freedman is under the supervision of, and are certified by, the Hartford Kashrut Commission. Please direct all Kashrut questions to: Rabbi Adler of the Hartford Kashrut Commission at (860) 236-1241.

IS SHABBAT OBSERVED?

Yes!   This is a shomer Shabbat retreat.   Individuals in all of the public spaces will be asked to adhere to shomer shabbat observance.  There will be traditional davening/prayer/zemiros/singing and a tisch.  We will offer a variety of learning options, from traditional text study to experiential workshops covering a wide variety of subjects.

WHAT DOES THE REGISTRATION FEE COVER?

All prices include full room and board.  Registration is per person., not per room.

There are many options for room choices. Have a question about room choices? Contact miryam@eshelonline.org

WHAT IF I CANNOT AFFORD TO COME TO THE RETREAT?

We are committed to making our weekends as inclusive and accessible as possible. We provide a limited amount of financial aid available for those who, for financial reasons, cannot otherwise attend.Through the generosity of many individuals, we are usually able to accommodate requests for financial aid.

HERE IS THE FORM FOR FINANCIAL AID

WHAT ARE ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?

All beds are twins, unless otherwise noted. Each room has a bureau or closet, chair, lamp, alarm clock, towels and soap. A small refrigerator can be rented for a $25 fee. All cottages are fully winterized.  None of the units have doors that may be locked from the outside. Valuables may be stored in the office safe. Rooms do not have telephones or television sets. Each cottage has one phone in a common hallway or porch space.

During cooler months, rooms are heated to a comfortable 68­­­°. Where thermostats are accessible to participants, we ask that you follow instructions on accompanying signage to ensure that you and your neighbors are comfortable and to conserve energy. Where thermostats are not accessible, please ask a site coordinator for assistance.

Cots and cribs may be added to certain rooms but not to others so please let us know well in advance and we will be glad to help you with these requests. Please notify us if you have a physical challenge that requires you to be close to the main building or in a wheelchair accessible room.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING? WHAT WILL BE PROVIDED?

  • Comfortable shoes for walking and hiking
  • Seasonally appropriate clothing; it is often snowy when we are there
  • Toys for children
  • Raincoat or umbrella
  • Toiletries: toothpaste, bath soap, shampoo
  • Flashlight

The retreat center provides:

  • Bedding
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Soap

HOW EARLY MAY I ARRIVE? HOW LATE MAY I STAY?

All retreat participants must check in upon arrival. Check-in typically begins at 2:00 pm.

All members of the group must check out of their rooms by 10:00 am on the scheduled day of departure. If you have not checked out of your room by 10:00 am, an additional $50 per person late fee will be charged. Departure from the retreat site is usually no later than 1:15 p.m.

IS THERE  INTERNET AND CELL PHONE RECEPTION?

Since we are located in a remote wooded area many cell phones will have poor or spotty reception. There are phones available for use in the main building and you may buy a calling card in the Bookstore to make long-distance calls. Free wireless internet is available in the Main Building and there are two public-access computers located in the Lounge.

WILL MY PRESENCE BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL?

Some participants may not be out as LGBTQ+ in their daily lives, or may have other important reasons for keeping their attendance at the event confidential.  Therefore, we ask each and every participant to adhere to strict confidentiality and sign an agreement to keep confidential any information they learn about others during the weekend.

You have affirmed that you WILL NOT POST OR DISTRIBUTE PHOTOGRAPHS or audio/video recordings of other attendees publicly unless you have the EXPLICIT permission of every attendee represented therein. This includes distribution or posting online on flickr, Facebook, MySpace, and similar sites, as well as anywhere else in which photographs and other representations are publicly available.

INFORMATION: Please do not share information you have heard about individuals at the retreat with anyone else.  For many people who attend, strict confidentiality is crucial.

HOW DO I GET TO ISABELLA FREEDMAN RETREAT CENTER?

Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense.  Check out the Ride Board soon to find or offer a carpool to the retreat. Here are some options below.

By Metro-north train:

Take the Metro North train to Wassaic. The trip is approximately 2 hours from Grand Central. Call 1-800-METRO-INFO or visit http://www.mta.info/ for an updated schedule.  Click here for a link to fares.

Getting from train to retreat site:

Upon registering, you can sign up for the Isabella Freedman shuttle that will bring you to and from the train station in Wassaic.  The drive from Wassaic to Isabella Freedman is about 30 minutes.

SHUTTLE FROM WASSAIC TO ISABELLA FREEDMAN:

This shuttle will only pick you up if you are on the train that leaves Grand Central Station on Jan. 18th at 11:47 a.m. and arriving at 2:03 p.m. into Wassaic.

SHUTTLE FROM ISABELLA FREEDMAN TO WASSAIC:

This shuttle will only bring you from the retreat site at the end of the retreat on Jan. 20th to the 2:27 train in Wassaic arriving into Grand Central Station at 4:46.

Shuttle One way=$25

Shuttle Round trip= $50

The shuttle payment is non-refundable. If you are signing up for the shuttle after you have registered, click here to make a payment.  Indicate in the memo line that the payment is for the shuttle.

Third-party taxi service is available from the Wassaic train station to Isabella Freedman.You must call in advance for a reservation. Lakeville Taxi: (860) 435 8000.

By plane:

Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT is located 1­­­¼ hours from the retreat center. We can recommend third-party taxi and limousine services from the airport to Isabella Freedman.

By bus:

PETER PAN / BONANZA BUS LINES offers daily bus service to Canaan, CT from New York City and points throughout New England. Call (888) 751-8800 for a schedule. This is a 3-hour trip from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Third-party taxi service is available from the Canaan bus station to Isabella Freedman. You must call in advance for a reservation. Lakeville Taxi: (860) 435 8000.

For more directions and transportation information, please visit the Isabella Freedman website.

WHAT IF I HAVE TO CANCEL – DO I GET A REFUND?

Participants who cancel their registration after Dec. 30th, 2018 will not be eligible for a refund nor will they be eligible for a credit towards a future Eshel event.  Cancellations before Dec. 30th, 2018 are eligible for a full refund minus a $25 processing fee.

The fee for the shuttle to and from the retreat center is non-refundable.

Questions?
Please email us at info@eshelonline.org. 

Help us spread the word about the retreat by telling friends and folks who may not know about it.