With professional staff and volunteers

you will be in good hands

Connect with old friends

Over half of the attendees have been to a previous retreat, giving people a chance to reunite with old friends.

...and meet new friends

And every year new people show up, keepin’ it fresh and real.

We are Family

You’ll meet friends who become your family

Bring your children

We have a full children’s program, fun activities and professional staff

Get creative

and spark new ways of thinking and being

Share your talents

at our signature Talent Show

We feel blessed

and you will too

Who comes to the national retreat?

The Eshel national retreat is an annual gathering of people from all walks of life, all ages, and backgrounds. What do they have in common? A connection to Orthodox Judaism, identify as LGBTQ+, and want to find harmony in a variety of identities.

What’s the “special sauce”?

Community is the key. Through finding each other, connecting around commonalities, people discover that the life they want to live as an observant + LGBTQ+ person is possible because they now have other people to experience it with.

What happens during this weekend?

We gather in a peaceful setting over Shabbat and Sunday; during this time there will be spirited davening, soulful singing, conversations you can’t have just anywhere. We eat yummy, healthy food, take walks in the snow, do yoga, and build a community for ourselves. We also hear from some very cool speakers and learn from and about each other during out-of-the-box learning opportunities. Stay tuned for more information on the sessions and things that will happen this weekend as we get closer to the date.

But will I meet new people and have fun?

Yes! You will!!  We like to have fun and we’re serious about this. There are opportunities for crafts, music-making, talent night, and more. And you will do all this with folks you have never met before, or old friends becaue people always come back.


Register Today!

Be a Sponsor!

WHERE AM I GOING? ISABELLA FREEDMAN RETREAT CENTER.116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031 • 860.824.5991

WHAT’S IT LIKE THERE?: The retreat center is in a natural oasis by a lake in Falls Village, Connecticut. 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. The buildings and rooms are a mixture of old and new construction, with cozy seating areas to retreat to.


All beds are twins, unless otherwise noted.  Bedding and towels are provided.  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.

If you have a question about the different room options, contact francesco@eshelonline.org.


Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense.  Stay tuned for the Ride Board 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 folks who are on the train that arrives into Wassaic around 2 pm.


This shuttle will only bring folks from the retreat site to the Wassaic train that leaves around 2:20 pm.

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.

All retreat participants must check in upon arrival. Check-in typically begins at 2:00 pm.  The program usually begins around candle-lighting time which is 4:00 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.

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. 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.


There is a wide range of pricing and housing options at Isabella Freedman, from a Dorm room at $290 to a Deluxe Single in the Weinberg or May buildings at $790.  When you click on the Register Here button above, you will see a description of the choices in housing.  Registration prices are per person, and include all meals and activities throughout the weekend.



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.


  1. Fill out the financial aid form.
  2. You will hear back from us within one to two weeks of applying with instructions and a registration code.
  3. You will have a few days to register.  After that time we will pass on the aid to someone else.

Join the team that makes it happen

Get involved: Give a Session, Perform at the Talent Show, Volunteer.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Halakhic and kashrut information, childcare, refund policy, and more.

Need Financial Assistance?

Help Others Attend

Donate to the Barry Youngerman Z”L Scholarhip Fund

Over 30% of participants request aid; help make it possible for them to attend this life-changing event!

When you donate, please write a memo for the Barry Younger Z”L Scholarship Fund.



Barry Youngerman, Z”L, was a beloved member of our community, an active member at the Lincoln Square Synagogue, and a friend to many.