Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

National Retreat- FALLS VILLAGE, CT

January 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm - January 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm


A Retreat for Orthodox Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Jews

   Community: Past, present, and future

2meninsnow1-300x200Join us for one of the largest gatherings of LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews who come together to celebrate Shabbat and our unique identities.




Isabella Freedman Retreat Center

116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031


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.


Each presenter gets a discount, so apply now!


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.  Share with us what you know and your areas of expertise.  For each session you apply for, you will receive a $25 rebate within two weeks of the conference for up to two sessions.Messy


We provide childcare at various times throughout the weekend, especially when there is programming for adults. This year we welcome back Tracy Patton, from Once Upon Some Messy Fun, to create fun and excitement for our kids.


Registration is open!

All prices include full room and board.  There are many options for room choices.  After Dec. 1 prices go up.

Early Bird Deadline: Dec. 1



Financial Aid: 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.

The priority deadline for financial aid is December 1st, 2015. After that date, applications for remaining scholarships will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. Timeline for applying for financial aid:

  1. Send in financial aid form below by December 1st.  Cut and paste it into a Word document and send it to: info@eshelonline.org
  2. You will hear back from us within two weeks of applying with instructions and a registration code.
  3. You will have three days to register.  After that time we will pass on the aid to someone else.


Barry YoungermanBe an Eshel Angel!  Contribute to the Barry Youngerman, Z”L Scholarship Fund

Find out more about Barry Youngerman, Z”L here, who cared so much about our community and spent a lifetime helping to make it grow.


If you are able to donate funds to enable people to come to the retreat, please donate here. Your contribution is greatly appreciated and will go to those who cannot afford to attend.  Please indicate in the memo that you are contributing to scholarships.

Halachik Information

All food will be strictly kosher, the retreat will be shomer shabbos, and we will have traditional davening/prayer. We will offer a variety of learning options, from traditional text study to experiential workshops covering a wide variety of subjects.

Getting there

Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense.  Check out the Ride Board 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 https://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.


This shuttle will only pick you up if you are on the train that leaves Grand Central Station on Jan. 15th at 11:47 a.m. and arriving at 2:03 p.m. into Wassaic.


This shuttle will only bring you from the retreat site at the end of the retreat on Jan. 17th to the 2:27 train in Wassaic arriving into Grand Central Station at 4:46.

Shuttle One way=$25

Shuttle Round trip= $50

We must receive your payment for the shuttle by Dec. 30, 2015.  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.

About the retreat center:


The terrain at Isabella Freedman includes a mix of gravel and paved roads, gentle inclines and grassy areas. When we are there, it is usually cold and snowy, and incredibly beautiful.


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.


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.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE:Blessed by your arrival

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 9:00 am on the scheduled day of departure. If you have not checked out of your room by 9:00 am, an additional $25 per person late fee will be charged. Departure from the retreat site is usually no later than 2.00 p.m.


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.


The following is a suggested list of what to bring with you:

  • 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

Confidentiality Policy

Some participants may not be out as LGBT in their daily lives, or may have other important reasons for keeping their attendance at the event confidential. You have affirmed that you WILL NOT POST OR HugDISTRIBUTE 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.

Refund Policy

Participants who cancel their registration after Dec. 30th, 2015 will not be eligible for a refund nor will they be eligible for a credit towards a future Eshel event.  Cancellations before Dec. 30th, 2015 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.

Please email us at info@eshelonline.org. Please help us spread the word about the retreat!images-5


January 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm
January 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm




Isabella Freedman Retreat Center
116 Johnson Road
Falls Village, CT, 06031
+ Google Map