Sign up to receive our newsletter
facebook donate contact us

Nehirim East Retreat

1 Comment

Nehirim East May 15-17, 2015 at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Baltimore, MD! Stay tuned for details.


The Nehirim East¬†Retreat will bring the best of the Nehirim (now in its 10th year!) to the Isabella Friedman Retreat Center. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†We’ll bring about 75 LGBT Jews, partners, and allies together for a heartful, fun weekend where you can…

EXPLORE your connection to Judaism with spirited­­­ Shabbat services, workshops, and community-led programming.

RELAX and enjoy nature and a beautiful 100-acre site­­­ in the Berkshires, and

CONNECT with an inclusive and diverse community­­­ of LGBT Jews, partners, and allies.

Learn More:

Register Now

Registration Fee and Financial Aid Information

Registration Fee. To make the retreat as accessible and comfortable as possible, we have several room types available. Prices shown below are per person and include all room & board for two nights, and all your program expenses.


Register at our early bird rates by February 21 and pay the same fees as last year for singles and doubles!

Single:­­­ $450 (economy/shared bath), $500 (standard), $625 (deluxe)

Double:­­­ $350 (economy/shared bath), $425 (standard), $500 (deluxe)

Dorm (triple/quad, bathroom down the hall):­­­ $325 normal 

Child in room: $175


Rates  from February 22-March 1:

Single: $500 (economy/shared bath), $550 (standard), $675 (deluxe)

Double: $400 (economy/shared bath), $475 (standard), $550 (deluxe)

Dorm (Triple/quad, bathroom down the hall) $375

Child in room: $175


Rates from¬†March 2-7‚ÄĒadd another $50 late fee to every price¬†


Financial Aid: ¬†APPLY HERE¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†100% of Nehirim’s financial aid for retreats is participant-funded. We have created a Crowdrise fundraiser for this retreat, so you can easily donate to help people attend. Donations are 100% tax-deductible and you will receive an immediate receipt, as well as some very good karma/mitzvah points. Please consider donating if you can.¬†

Child Care: ¬†This year we will have an¬†amazing children’s program for those under 15, for just the price of the children’s registration plus a suggested donation of $25-$50.

Register Now

Logistical Information


Transportation and Timing
For directions and transportation information, please visit To offer or request a ride to the retreat, visit our­­­ Facebook Schmooze page.

The retreat center is available by MetroNorth to Wassaic, and a shuttle is available for $15 (non-refundable) from the¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Wassaic train station ¬≠¬≠¬≠‚ÄĒ please email¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†info[at] by 5pm on Friday, February 28. ¬†

For other pickup times or locations,¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†Lakeville Taxi, 860-435-8000, is available. Please note that Lakeville Taxi is a reservation service¬≠¬≠¬≠‚ÄĒvoicemails for the purpose of reserving rides must be left before 5 pm and at least 24 hours in advance. If you plan to arrive by plane, you must either find a ride via the Facebook Schmooze page¬†or pay for a taxi through Best Cab, 860-623-0200 (around $115+gratuity). Because Hartford (Bradley) Airport is over an hour away from the retreat center, Isabella Freedman typically cannot provide a shuttle to/from the airport.

Other than the shuttle from the train, we do not have the ability to coordinate transportation.  Please resource with others on the Facebook Schmooze page.  Thank you!

The weekend lasts from 6pm on Friday until 2pm on Sunday. ­­­ In order to maintain the community dynamic, we do ask that retreatants stay for the entire weekend.

For more information, please­­­ email us at info[at]

Tentative Schedule

 Friday, March 7
3:00‚ÄĒ5:15 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Arrival, snacks, registration, bookstore shopping
6:00‚ÄĒ6:45 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Welcome and opening program
6:45‚ÄĒ8:00 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Candlelighting and Shabbat services (Chani Getter)
8:00‚ÄĒ9:00 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Shabbos Dinner
10:00‚ÄĒ10:55 ¬†¬†¬†Mishpacha groups
11:00‚ÄĒ12:00 ¬†¬†¬†Tisch
12 step meeting (participant-led)

Saturday, March 8      
8:30-9:45                   Breakfast
9:45‚ÄĒ12:00 ¬† Shabbat Morning Spiritual Practice (choose one)
– Traditional Davenen (Rabbi Joel Alter)
– Renewal Davenen (Rabbi Deb Kolodny)
– Yoga
12:30-2:00     Lunch
2:00-3:15       Afternoon Session 1 (choose one)
Rabbi Joel Alter
–¬†Blessing – A Gateway to Gratitude (Chani Getter)
3:15-3:30        Break
3:30‚ÄĒ4:45 ¬† ¬† Afternoon Session 2 (choose one of two)
- Building a desert Tabernacle vs a solid gold Temple: a Torah study on willing hearts (Penina Weinberg)
- Every Moment a Blessing: A Hike to the Mohawk Overlook (Rabbi Yaakov Reef)
4:45-5:00        Break
5:00-6:15     Afternoon Session 3 (choose one of two)
– Bisexuality (Jacqui Sellin)
– Mincha (participant-led)
РAwaken Your Soul through Ancient Jewish Wisdom (Rabbi Neal Kaunfer)
– Mincha (participant-led)
6:30‚ÄĒ7:45 ¬† Seudah Shlishit (Third meal) – Dinner
7:45-8:00    Traditional Maariv
8:10‚ÄĒ8:30¬† Havdallah and dance program with Rabbi Neal Kaunfer
8:45-9:45    Mishpacha Groups
10:00 Night Program TBD
Sunday, June 2, 2013                                                          
8:00‚ÄĒ8:30 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Optional Shacharit (participant-led)
8:15‚ÄĒ9:00 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Breakfast
9:00‚ÄĒ10:00¬† ¬†¬†¬† Mishpacha
10:00-11:00      Sunday morning session (choose one of two)
- Using Sacred Texts in Political Environments  (Rabbi Deb Kolodny)      
- Vayikra: And God Called…¬†(Rabbi Yaakov Reef) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
11:15‚ÄĒ12:00 ¬†¬†Closing session
12:00‚ÄĒ1:15 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Lunch & Visit the Bookstore

Register Now


Retreat Directors

Debra Kolodny, Executive Director

Debra Kolodny joined Nehirim as its Executive Director in March of 2013. She brings over thirty years of local and national leadership in LGBT organizations, including: six years as National Coordinator for BiNet USA, six years facilitating NGLTF‚Äôs National Religious Leadership Roundtable and publishing the anthology, ‚ÄúBlessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith” in 2000,. Deb has also published dozens of articles on religion and sexuality and taught in hundreds of venues on the topic of Judaism, sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to her work with Nehirim she serves as rabbi of P‚Äônai Or of Portland, is active in interfaith social justice work and is a frequent guest speaker, ritualist, and teacher. Prior to joining P‚Äônai Or she served as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal for nine years. Rabbah D‚Äôvorah has been practicing taiji since 1995, meditation for almost as long, and is passionate about ecstatic dance.


Rabbi Joel Alter, Board Secretary

Rabbi Joel Alter serves as the Nehirim Board of Directors Secretary.¬†He ¬†is Director of Admissions for JTS‚Äô Rabbinical and Cantorial schools.¬† He took up this role after sixteen years of service in pluralistic Jewish day schools as a teacher, rabbinic leader, and administrator.¬† His commitments to advancing institutions organized around Torah study and Jewish living inform his past and present roles. ¬†Having been a closeted rabbinical student at JTS in the ‚Äė90‚Äôs, Joel is particularly proud to be the first out director of admissions for the now inclusive Rabbinical and Cantorial programs at JTS. Joel earned his BA in Jewish History at Columbia University; his rabbinic ordination and an MA in Jewish Education are from JTS.¬† He received additional training at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.¬† Shabbat, Torah, Hebrew, hiking, good friends, and good food are among the things that bring him joy.




Chani Getter, Director of Women’s & Family Programming

Chani Getter, is a Motivational Speaker, Certified Holistic Life Coach, and Ritual Creator. She leads informational and support groups in parenting, single-motherhood, domestic violence, cross cultural integration, issues of sexuality, and identity. She coaches individuals and offers workshops in the areas of life-balance, self-acceptance, transition, spirituality, and living your dreams. In addition to creating spiriutal and creative ceremonies, Chani follows an eclectic spiritual path that allows her to connect to the source of life within.


Rabbi Neal Kaunfer

Rabbi Neal Kaunfer is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative Movement) and former Director of Congregational High School Education, Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.  He is a teacher of Jewish spirituality, and is a member of Kehilat Romemu, a Jewish renewal congregation in New York City.  He has led his Jewish Prayer Dance and Jewish Music Movements programs as well as study workshops at Nehirim since his first retreat in 2004.


Rabbi Yaakov Reef

Rabbi Yaakov Reef is the Program Manager at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. He has over a decade of experience as an activist for the environment and for LGBTQ social causes. He loves contra dancing, reading science fiction novels, and is an avid backpacker.¬†He’s on Twitter at @yaakovreef.


Jacqui Sellin

Jacqui Sellin ¬†has been an educator for the past 20 years. ¬†She has facilitated training at the corporate level, and has taught l students from kindergarten to ¬†college. For the past 4 years, she has been studying with “The Grateful Rabbi”, Rabbi Henry Glazer, on making Gratitude ¬†a central practice of Judaism as well as everyday life. She is passionate about living in the moment, and tikkun olam. She enjoys writing, reading fiction novels, and is dedicated to volunteerism.


Penina Weinberg

Penina Weinberg is an independent biblical scholar who is President Emeritus of Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA, and on the board of Organic Torah. She recently directed her first Boston retreat for Ruach HaYam. Her Master’s Degree at Hebrew College concentrated on women-centered readings of biblical texts. Current studying and teaching focus a queer lens on the intersection of gender and power in the Hebrew Bible. Penina teaches in Boston area synagogues, and often leads workshops for Nehirim and Keshet. By day she is the Operations Manager for Commonwealth Informatics, where she happily creates order out of chaos with old friends. She can hardly wait to share her love of biblical texts with you.


Still have questions? Please feel free to email us.

See what happened at the 2013 Nehirim East Retreat!