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August 28, 2015 | 13th Elul 5775
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Dates Set for Summer Retreats

Emily Grotta


Reform Jews interested in a spiritual retreat filled with study, worship, and song are faced with the difficult task of choosing between spending five days in the redwood forests of Northern California or the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The California Kallah will be held July 7-11 at the University of California at Santa Cruz, while the East Coast Kallah will be July 21-25 at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH.

Since 1989, the Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) has held the summer Kallah -- the Hebrew word describing a retreat for the purpose of study -- as a means to provide an opportunity for in-depth study and spiritual rejuvenation. The adults who come from across the country describe Kallah as a transformative experience, leading participants to more spiritually fulfilling lives throughout the year, and serving as an incubator for new approaches to worship.

Each Kallah offers classes taught by leading Jewish scholars, authors, or artists in areas of unrivalled scenic beauty, with breathtaking views and opportunities for outdoor exploration. In addition to the regular program, the Union is also sponsoring a special track for Reform Jewish educators, and several pre-Kallah seminars - a three-day hiking and camping trip and special text study and Hebrew sessions.

Organized around the theme of "HeChalutz: The Pioneer: Where and When Jews Reinvented Judaism," the 2004 Kallah curriculum includes daily limudim (text-based seminars) and chugim (participatory group workshops). The faculty includes author and scholar Lawrence Kushner; Gary Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives; Ellen Frankel, editor-in-chief and CEO of the Jewish Publication Society; Michael L. Morgan, professor of philosophy and Jewish studies and Indiana University; and Daniel Matt, leading authority on Jewish mysticism and author of a new annotated translation of the Zohar, along with congregational rabbis and cantors from Reform synagogues.

Special Program for Jewish Educators

The Educators Track, now in its fourth year, will be taught by Rabbi Jan Katzew, director of the Lifelong Jewish Learning at the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, professor of Jewish education and leadership development at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. Open to all educators from Reform congregations, it will integrate Jewish and secular models of learning and leadership, and be held in conjunction with the California Kallah.

Also at the California Kallah, adventurous participants can take advantage of a special camping option. Scheduled for July 4-7 in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the camping option will be led by Mike Comins, rabbi and founder of Torah Trek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures, and will explore the connections between God, Judaism, wilderness and personal spiritual pathways.

Information on the Kallah, including the curriculum, faculty, and registration forms, may be found online, or by contacting the URJ Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning, 212.650.4110,


The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement in North America, and represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 congregations in the United States and Canada. The Union services include youth camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, adult education programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C..


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