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Women’s Retreat 2015

 The Nehirim Women’s Retreat is August 7-9, 2015 at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center! Stay tuned for details.

Women's Retreat

Join us for a weekend of rejuvenation, community, and fun, including:

Mikvah, Mishpacha, Shabbat services and Havdalah form the foundation of all Nehirim weekends. We will have our usual Talent Show, so please bring your talents and your gifts This year, we welcome a plethora of new, engaging and transformative workshops to supplement our spiritual theme:

•The Hannah Narrative and the Cycle of Time (Penina Weinberg)
•The Invisible “T”(Jacqui Sellin)
•Navigating the Space between Joy and Mishegas (Sabrina Sojourner)
•The Dance of Av, From Grief to Delight (Rabbi Deb Kolodny)
•The Book of Ruth or Really The Book of Naomi?  (Rivka)
•Transition Begets Transition (Shana Aisenberg)

Activities, fun and learning are also mixed in for children of all ages. Our Sunday keynotes come from author Elaine Wolf and ordained Spiritual Guides Rinah Rachel Galper and Ellie Barbarash

Our faculty is diverse in age, experience, professional background, Nehirim involvement and geographic locations.

2014 Schedule

Friday, August 8
4:00—5:00 Arrival, snacks, and registration
5:00—5:30 Opening Program
5:30—6:00 Mikva
­- Mikva movement for kids
6:00—7:30 Candlelighting & Shabbat Services (Halachic Shabbat: 7:45 pm)
7:30—8:45 Shabbat Dinner (chalk and bubbles for kids)
9:00—9:45 Mishpacha Groups
10:00-11:00 The Only Constant Is Change: Living with Transition
11:15—12:00 Late Night Program
­­­— Tisch: Singing, Stories
­­­— 12-Step Meeting

Shabbat, August 9
8:00—9:00 Guided Meditation
8:30—9:30 Breakfast
9:30—11:45 Shabbat Morning Services
­­­— Traditional Davvening
­­­— Kohenet/Renewal Service
­­­— Personal Prayer Space
­­­— Schmooze: Why I am not at services
­­­— Talking about Prayer & Songs for kids
12:00—1:15 Lunch
For this meal, we will have affinity tables set up for people in interfaith relationships/multiple faith communities, LGBTQ elders, parents, still questioning, singles, the silent “B”, living with disabilities and topics of your choosing.
1:30—2:45 Afternoon Session 1
­­­— The Hannah Narrative and the Cycle of Time (Penina Weinberg)
­­­— The Invisible “T”(Jacqui Sellin)
­­­— Board Games for kids
­­­— Hike to the (Self-Organized), meet in the Rec Room
— Naptime, Free time, Rest time
3:00—4:15 Afternoon Session 2
­­­— Navigating the Space between Joy and Mishegas (Sabrina S.)
­­­— The Dance of Av, From Grief to Delight (Rabbi Deb Kolodny)
­­­— ₪ Nature/Nurture: Visit to the Animals & Nature Walk for kids
­­­— Hike to the overlook (Self-Organized), meet in the Rec Room
— Naptime, Free time, Rest time
4:30—5:45 Afternoon Session 3
­­­—The Book of Ruth or Really The Book of Naomi?  (Rivka)  
­­­— Transition Begets Transition (Shana Aisenberg)
­­­— Hike to the overlook (Self-Organized), meet in the Rec Room
­­­— Naptime, Free time, Rest time
— Mincha (participant led)
Frisbee, Soccer & Capture the Flag for kids
6:00—7:00­­­ Mishpacha Groups
7:00—8:15 Seudah Shlishit (Third meal/Dinner)
8:30—8:45 Maariv
8:45—9:15 Havdalah & Dancing
9:15—10:30 Talent Show
10:30—11:30 Night Program
­­­— Cozy Time around the Fireplace

Sunday, August 10
8:00—9:00 Morning Spiritual Practice
­­­— 12 Step Meeting (ends at 8:30)
­­­— Shacharit
­­­— Qi Gong (Barbara Siminovitch-Block)
8:30—9:30 Breakfast
9:45—10:45 Morning Session
­­­— Danny’s Mom, A novel about homophobia and doing the right thing. A conversation with the Author (Elaine Wolf- The novelist)
­­­— Life is Our Torah:  Healing into Wholeness with the Hebrew Letters (Ellie Barbarash & Rinah Rachel Galper)
­­­— Arts & Crafts Project  for adults and kids
11:00—12:15 Closing Circle & final small group
12:30 Lunch
2:00 Tzeitchem L’­­Shalom (Adieu)

Click here to Register


What to Expect

Community: The Nehirim Women’­­s Retreat brings together 50—100 queer Jewish women (self-identified) of a wide variety of ages, religious affiliations (Orthodox, atheist, and everyone in between), family situations (singles, couples, families) and backgrounds. Children & non-Jewish partners are welcome. Ours is a warm, diverse, inclusive community.

Program: Our program features inspiring workshops, spiritual Shabbat services, and plenty of social activities and free time. We celebrate LGBTQ Jewish culture, spirituality, personal growth, and making new connections. There is something for everybody at Nehirim!­­­ This year  we will explore the theme of “Transition” and the way that “Change is the Only Constant”.  Jacqui Sellin will be leading the children’s program.

Accommodation: Our site is a gorgeous, comfortable, fully winterized, and fully kosher facility 3 hours from Boston, 2 hours from New York, and 1 hour from Hartford. Single rooms and amenities are available.

Here is a video shot from the women’s retreat which gives you a good sense of the community we build:

Click here to Register

Registration & Pricing

Prices shown below are per person and include all room & board for two nights. These are the SAME prices from last year, only available until June 1!

Dorm triple/quad (bathroom down the hall): $250.

Economy (shared bath): Double $350, Single $475.

Standard (private bath): Double $450, Single $550

Deluxe: Double: $525, Single: $650

Couple (economy double): $675

Child: $175, Children under 5 years of age are free.

Location and Transportation

The retreat will be held at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. For directions and transportation information, please visit the­­­ Isabella Freedman website.

Isabella Freedman is easily accessible by train from New York, and is close to the Bradley International Airport in Hartford. To offer or request a ride to the retreat, visit our­­­ Facebook Shmooze page. Isabella Freedman is also accessible by train from NYC. If you need to be dropped off at the Wassaic train station (for MetroNorth service from New York City), a shuttle will be made available for a $20 charge per person each way. On Friday, pickup will be right after the 2:03 pm train arrives from Grand Central Station, and drop off on Sunday will be ahead of the 2:25 pm train departing for Grand Central (so a 1:45 pm departure from Isabella Freedman). You can pay for the train rides at and MUST tell if you need one of the rides.

For other pickup times or locations, Lakeville Taxi, (860) 435-8000, is available for the train station and Best Cab, (860) 623-0200, for the airport. Lakeville Taxi is a reservation service; 24-hour advance notice required and reservations are nonrefundable within 24 hours.

Click here to Register

Retreat Director

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.



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.


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’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable and publishing the anthology, “Blessed 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’nai Or of Portland, is active in interfaith social justice work and is a frequent guest speaker, ritualist, and teacher. Prior to joining P’nai Or she served as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal for nine years. Rabbah D’vorah has been practicing taiji since 1995, meditation for almost as long, and is passionate about ecstatic dance.


Sabrina Sojourner

Sabrina Sojourner is a Jewish African American Woman with roots in many gardens. She serves as a Shaliach Tzibur providing life cycle services Jews in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. She is also a nationally recognized speaker, writer and trainer on diversity and multiculturalism with a long social justice history in multiple movements; life coach, organizational development specialist, singer, so-so guitar player, mother and grandmother embracing life.


Dr. Alyssa Finn

Alyssa (AJ) Finn has been involved with Nehirim since the first Women’s Retreat in 2009. At that retreat, Alyssa realized that Nehirim was exactly the community she needed to combine her Jewish, queer, and spiritual identities in a safe and affirming space. Alyssa has a BA in Religion from Middlebury College and is in holds a M.D. from UMass Medical School. She is a family physician at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.


Rinah Rachel Galper

Rinah Rachel Galper is an ordained Maggid (Jewish Spiritual Guide and Storyteller) and Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) and a licensed officiant living in Durham, North Carolina. She is a grateful and proud member of the LGBTQ community teaching and facilitating sacred storytelling, creative and healing life cycle rituals, art, and embodied prayer. Rinah’s passion is to support people’s deepening connection with the Divine as they journey toward recovery and wholeness. Rinah is the founder of Mamash, a new women’s collaborative dedicated to ending violence toward women and their loved ones. She is also a founding member of the Yavneh Renewal Community. For more information on her offerings, please go to


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.


Shana Aisenberg

is an acoustic musician, singer, composer, songwriter and writer. She has metamorphosed many times throughout her career, both artistically and personally. Shana plays various instruments including fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, ukulele, dulcimer, keyboard and Middle Eastern frame drums. She plays diverse styles from traditional Appalachian, bluegrass, Celtic and New England contradance music to eastern European Klezmer, Balkan, Scandinavian, blues and jazz. Shana’s life journey greatly informs all her activities; teaching and performing music; public speaking and writings on transgender issues; activism; spirituality and involvement in her local Jewish community. You can visit Shana on the web, at


Ellie Barbarash

Kohenet Ellie Barbarash, MS, CPEA, is an ordained Kohenet from the first graduating cohort of the Kohenet Priestess Institute. She studies about Chevrah Kaddishah practices of Taharah and Shmirah with the Gamliel institute. Ellie has an MS degree in occupational and environmental safety and health, and has worked to advocate, support and promote occupational safety for blue collar and high-risk workers for more than twenty-five years. Her writing has been published in Bridges and Jewish Book World. Ellie davvens, drums, and flutes in Philadelphia.


Barbara Siminovich-Blok

Dr. Barbara Siminovich-Blok is a Naturopathic Doctor and a Licensed Acupuncturist board certified in CT and NY. She has two Master degrees in Biochemistry and a BS in Chemical Engineering. She completed her medical residency at Yale. Born in Argentina and fluent in several languages, she is an active practitioner of Martial Arts like Qi Gung, and Kuhapdo. Her professional interests include integrative and sports medicine, research and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Barbara has a private practice in New York and directs a clinical laboratory in Connecticut.


If you would like more information, if you would like to volunteer to teach or lead services, ­­­ you can always email us at chani[at] Thanks!