Retreat Centers and More
Real-world Retreat Centers, Jewish Spiritual Gatherings, Organic Farms, and Outdoor Adventures
A genuine Retreat experience takes place in the real, not virtual world. JOFFEE (Jewish Outdoor Food, Farming, and Environmental Education) is growing by leaps and bounds! If you are ready to give it a try, here are some places and organizations that provide real-life retreats and other outdoor experiences and adventures. Listings are by region and then alphabetically.
East Coast USA
Am Kolel Jewish sponsored, ecumenical sanctuary retreat center in Maryland.
The Awakened Heart is an organization devoted to Jewish contemplative practice and meditation, including retreats. Beantown Jewish Gardens builds community through experiential food and agriculture education rooted in Jewish text, tradition, and culture, througout the Greater Boston Area.
Burning Bush Adventures offers “close encounters with God and Judaism through quality wilderness experiences” including canoe trips, dogsled trips, cross-country skiing and camping, combined with Jewish learning and observance.
CSI (Congregation Sons of Israel) is a Westchester, New York, Synagogue that runs its own organic farm and educates about the environment and sustainable agriculture.
Eden Village Camp is located north of New York City and provides a Jewish summer camp with a focus on farming, food and wilderness, with seasonal holiday programs and a weekend family camp. The camp has its own working organic farm.
Grow Torah develops educational Torah garden programs for Jewish day schools and organizations, weaving values of caring, commitment, and connection into hands-on outdoor experiences.
Isabella Freedman Retreat Center is a major Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, sponsored by Hazon (see below), offering many reatreats for all ages, and programs such as the Adamah Fellowship, a Jewish farming and environmental fellowship.
Jewish Farm School of Philadelphia is a place to learn about the environment, homesteading skills, and to give back to the community through volunteer work in urban gardens.
Organic Torah is a non-profit organization that seeks to “integrate Jewish wisdom into the world-wide struggle for a sustainable, healthy and just world.” The website features resources, online courses, and offers retreats at various locations.
Pearlstone Center has 160 acres of woods and farmland just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, including the organic Kayam Farm and environmental education program. They offer a variety of programs for all ages as well as facilities for group retreats.
KAM Isaiah Israel is a Chicago synagogue with its own organic farm that donates thousands of pounds of produce to the needy and hungry every year, while teaching urban agriculture and sustainability.
Torah on the Trail in Minnesota is a community exploring and learning Torah in the out of doors. It is part of the Ha-Raqi’a initiative in Israel and the USA.
Adventure Rabbi offers a new type of Jewish congregation-based on outdoor retreats in the Boulder, Colorado Area and in South Lake Tahoe, California. Programs include hiking, skiing, learning, B’nai Mitzvah programs and holiday events.
Milk & Honey Farm at the Boulder JCC is a 2-acre educational sustainable farm that brings the greater community together through experiential programs grounded in vast Jewish heritage, tradition, and values. It is is located adjacent to the Boulder, Colorado JCC.
Ramah in the Rockies is a Jewish summer camp that offer programs for children, families, and adults in the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
West Coast USA
Shalom Institute, on 220 acres in beautiful Malibu, California, offers a retreat facility as well as an amazingly wide range of programs including summer camp, adult and family retreats, and Shemesh Organic Farm.
Torah Trek offers outdoor adventures and retreats in places like Wyoming and California.
Urban Adamah is a center for organic farming, social activism and Jewish education in Berkeley, California.
Wilderness Torah, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, offers numerous creative programs to find spirituality in the heart of nature, as well as an innovative coming of age program in the outdoors: B’naiture.
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the organization of the Jewish Renewal movement,offeres a biannual Kallah gathering, a festival of Jewish spiritual teaching an celebration held on various scenic college campuses.
Ruach Ha’Aretzis ALEPH’s “mobile retreat center,” offering in-depth courses in Jewish spirituality and multi-generational summer retreats in beautiful natural settings.
Avanim Adventures designs wilderness experiences such as rafting and camping for the Orthodox Jewish adventurer. Trips and activities are fully observant of Shabbat and kashrut (dietary laws). Programs are available for adults, teens, and families.
Hazon, the premierJewish environmental umbrella organization offers everything from bike tours, to dowloadable educationall materials, to natural food conferences. They also sponsor the Shmita project to create awareness and creative observance of the Biblical Sabbatical year of rest for the land.
Institute for Jewish Spirituality sponsors many programs and retreats focused on meditation and study of Jewish spiritual texts, including in conjunction with Israel’s Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, a pluralistic center for traditional Jewish learning.
JOFEE, is a clearing house for Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education. Check here to learn about exciting programs that are (literally) blooming and growing around the country.
Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America integrates Jewish values with an appreciation of the outdoors. It brings together members of the Jewish community to celebrate and explore the great outdoors in a social setting through local hiking clubs and national or international event.
Outdoor Jewish Adventures, founded by Josh Lake, can lead programs, train staff, or even provide a “Jewish Nature Kit” for organizations doing Jewish outdoor programming.
Shefa Gold and C-DeepRabbi Shefa Gold, pioneer of Jewish sacred chant as an ecstatic and joyful spiritual practice, leads many workshops and spiritual retreats, from Santa Fe to the Amazon river.
Torah Flora is an organization devoted to learning about plants and nature in the Torah and Jewish tradition. The website includes listings of nature walks and educational programs at various venues, or you can arrange one yourself.
Mosaic Outdoor Club of Toronto and Ottowa is a community of Jewish people who participate in activities like hikes, embrace nature and love to explore the great outdoors. We provide quality group experiences to foster the development of outdoor knowledge and a respect for the environment in a Jewish context.
Shoresh, based in Toronto, Ontario, is a grassroots Jewish environmental organization that exists to nurture a regional Jewish community that sees environmental ethics as a core element of Jewish identity and is actively committed to responsible stewardship of the earth. Their programs include wilderness experiences, organic gardening, and Jewish education.
Sadeh Farm , Kent, England, “cultivates community, grows food, and sows the seeds of change.”
Mexico and Israel
Shebet Haaretz offers hikes and retreats in remote and unique natural areas of Mexico and in Israel, inviting Jews of all backgrounds from Orthodox to Secular to discover the environment, local indigenous cultures, and Jewish texts and spirituality.
Chava and Adam Farm is a multidisciplinary center for environmental and social education. (Chava=Eve in Hebrew)
Explore Natural Israel with a variety of tours from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).
Forest Bathing -Shinrin Yoku: I knew it was only a matter of time until the concept of theraputic forest walks made it to Israel. This meet-up group organizes “forest bathing” (immersion) walks on the Japanese model of Shinrin Yoku.
Ha-Raqi’a is creating a community of people who want to help build Israel focused outdoor holistic Jewish living and learning activity. The have initiatives in Israel as well as in the U.S. Check out their website to learn more.
The Homestead Jerusalem is an educational urban farm in the heart of Jerusalem.
The Israel National Trail is a hiking trail that crosses Israel between the southern and northern borders.
Jerusalem Mosaic HIking Club organizes nature hikes throughout Israel.
Keren Kolot is a guesthouse at Kibbutz Keturah in the Arava Desert of Israel, which offer seminars on sustainability and renewable energy (among other topics), and the opportunity to rent bicycles and explore the kibbutz and nearby Israel National Trail.
Kibbutz Lotan provides eco-tourism and educational environmental fellowships at this desert kibbutz (communal farm) also in the Arava Valley of Israel. Programs include the Green Apprenticeship in permaculture.
Neot Kedumim Park is a 625 acre park and Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.. Tours and activities focus on the environment, green living, and biblical history and culture
Please email Wellsprings to recommend your favorite Retreat Center or Jewish spiritual gathering.
Check out Websites and Blogs devoted to Jewish Spirituality and the Environment.