A Weekend Retreat Nourishing Ourselves with Mindfulness, Rest and Illumination: The Shabbat of Hanukkah
With Rabbi Ben Newman, Roberta Wall and Donna Nisha Cohen
December 8 - 10, 2023
RETREAT BY INVITED PRESENTERS
Join us for a nourishing retreat to practice and explore Shabbat as a day of mindfulness and Hanukkah as a celebration of inner illumination. Rabbi Ben Newman and Roberta Wall are both deeply rooted in the awakening and mindfulness practices of Buddhism and Judaism. Rabbi Ben additionally is an accomplished musician and Roberta is a trainer in Nonviolent Communication. In Judaism they are particularly drawn to traditional mystical Hasidic and kabbalistic teachings that emphasize inner transformation in service of universal liberation. We will enjoy periods of silence, learning, meditation, enriching discussions and Nonviolent Communication practices. Whether you are well-versed or new to Judaism, Buddhism, Nonviolent Communication, or spiritual practice, this retreat offers a welcoming embrace.
Cover image by David Friedman, https://www.kosmic-kabbalah.com/
STAY SAFE DURING COVID-19: We are committed to your health and safety. Please read our COVID-19 Precautions & Preparations to understand our strategies.
The shabbat that falls at the beginning of Hannukah is an opportunity to relax, recharge and draw on the traditions for inner illumination. Our retreat begins a few hours before shabbat and the third night of Hanukkah. We will gather at 3 pm for opening circle, meditation and orientation, followed by a musical and contemplative kabbalat shabbat service, and then share a festive dinner and program, ending with restorative yoga. Orientation will include meditation instruction and introduce mindfulness practices that integrate Buddhist and Jewish teachings. Throughout the weekend, we will draw on the profound depths of Jewish mysticism and Buddhist mindfulness, engaging in a variety of meditation and mindfulness practices, joyful shabbat and Hanukkah songs and ritual, teachings, and prayer, while yoga sessions enhance and embody our practices and experience.
- Jewish Mysticism and Mindfulness: Dive deep into the teachings of Hassidic and Kabbalah, understanding their alignment with Buddhist mindfulness and non-duality. Explore the profound depths of these traditions and their practical applications in modern life.
- Meditative Practices: Engage in a variety of meditation techniques, from guided sessions promoting inner illumination to walking meditations that foster mindfulness and presence. Experience personal introspection and inner spiritual work through these practices.
- Mindfulness Techniques: Embrace the art of being fully present, understanding how mindfulness can enhance one’s daily life and personal growth. Learn its integration with Jewish traditions and the teachings of Buddhism and Nonviolent Communication.
- Hanukkah Song, Teachings, and Rituals: Delve into the cultural and spiritual celebrations of Hanukkah through song and teachings. Understand the deeper meanings behind these practices and how they contribute to personal illumination and growth.
- Body Practices: Yoga sessions with beloved Hudson Valley yoga teacher Donna Nisha Cohen will guide us to integrating body, mind and spirit, promoting relaxation, rejuvenation, and a deeper connection to your inner self.
- Nonviolent Communication (NVC): Engage in enriching sessions on NVC, understanding its principles and how they can enhance personal relationships and self-understanding and complement Jewish and Buddhist practices.
- Heartfelt Rituals: Experience shabbat and Hannukah rituals in a way that connects them to mindfulness, personal introspection and understanding.
- Enriching Discussions: Join enlightening plenary and small group discussions to explore the teachings of Judaism, Buddhism, and NVC. Share insights, experiences, and embark on a journey of mutual learning and inner exploration.
Through this retreat, participants will have the opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge, connect to their spiritual core, cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves, and foster personal growth.
- Intimate setting with personal access to Rabbi Ben Newman and Roberta Wall: Delve into the teachings of Hasidism, Kabbalah, Buddhist mindfulness, and Nonviolent Communication. Benefit from their combined vast knowledge, experience, and deep roots in both Judaism and Buddhism.
- Interactive Sessions with Q&A: Engage directly with Rabbi Ben Newman and Roberta Wall, seeking clarifications and deepening your understanding of Jewish mysticism, Buddhist mindfulness, and Nonviolent Communication practices.
- Guided Meditations, Walking Meditations, Silent Meditation: Experience a variety of meditation techniques that promote inner illumination, self-awareness, and mindfulness. Embrace practices ranging from introspective sessions to walking meditations that foster presence.
- In-depth exploration of Kabbalistic teachings: Bridge the radiant symbolism of Hanukkah with the profound wisdom of the Sefirot (attributes to develop through our practices to manifest our awakened nature) and the teachings of the Zohar (foundational text of Jewish mysticism and mystical presentation of Torah).
- Delicious all-vegetarian meals with organic, local ingredients: Nourish the body with wholesome food, complementing the nurturing of the mind and spirit.
- Option to extend stay on Personal Retreat: Immerse further in the serene setting, allowing teachings and experiences to resonate deeply within
- Expansive wooded grounds with beautiful flora and fauna: The perfect setting to complement teachings and meditative practices
- Extensive library with a rich selection of spiritual and mystical texts from a variety of traditions: Enhance your understanding and delve deeper into subjects discussed during the retreat
OPEN TO ALL
This retreat is designed to offer insights and experiences that nourish and deepen the practice of participants at every level—beginners just embarking on a spiritual journey, professionals seeking to integrate contemplative practices into daily life, and “old hands” wanting to continue practicing and deepening their understanding and connection. Our teachings are rooted in timeless wisdom, yet presented in a manner that resonates with modern seekers. Whether you’re familiar with Jewish, Buddhist or Nonviolent Communication teachings or are encountering them for the first time, you’ll find a welcoming space to explore, reflect, and grow.
The registration fees for this retreat are for room and board only; there is no tuition or payment for teachers. We will ask for free will donations (dana) for teachers at the end of the retreat. Normally tuition fees run from $180-$600 for a 3-day retreat. We work on a donation system so that those who can give at the higher end and those who cannot give at the lower end. Check, cash, and Venmo are accepted for dana.
SUGGESTED RESOURCES FOR RETREAT PREPARATION
These are some resources you might enjoy as you prepare for the retreat.
- Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers, by Dr. Arthur Green. This offers an insightful overview of Jewish beliefs and practices, providing participants with a foundational understanding of the religion’s essence.
Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology, by Dr. Arthur Green delves into the heart of Jewish mysticism, offering readers a profound understanding of God and the universe from a Kabbalistic perspective.
- The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, by Daniel C. Matt. A comprehensive guide, this book distills the essence of Kabbalah, introducing its core concepts and teachings.
- God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science & Spirituality by Daniel C. Matt. Here, Matt beautifully merges the scientific understanding of the universe’s creation with the spiritual teachings of Kabbalah.
- Jewish with Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. This book presents a refreshing approach to Jewish spirituality, inviting readers to embark on a personal journey to rediscover and deepen their Jewish faith.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Speaking Peace in a World of Conflict by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Torah at the Intersection blogs by Roberta Wall
Additionally, participants are encouraged to:
- Search for videos on YouTube featuring teachings from both Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Ben Newman for a deeper visual and auditory engagement with the content.
- Dive into Rabbi Ben Newman’s teachings on his website and listen to episodes of his podcast, “The Neshamah Project.” This will offer insights into Rabbi Ben’s unique perspective and approach, setting the tone for the retreat’s teachings.
- Begin practicing a few basic meditation techniques before the retreat. Use guided meditation apps or videos, focusing on mindfulness and grounding.
- Begin a journal, reflecting on daily thoughts, feelings, and spiritual experiences. This practice will be beneficial during the retreat when introspection and sharing might be encouraged.
(subject to change)
Friday, December 8
|3:00 PM||Check in|
|Participants invited to mingle and bring vegetarian snacks to share|
|4:00 PM||Welcome, Orientation, and Intention Setting|
|5:30-7:00 PM||Kabbalat Shabbat|
|A joyful, musical and contemplative receiving and welcoming of Kabbalat Shabbat and Hannukah (NOTE: Many people enjoy wearing white to welcome shabbat in light and ritual)|
|7:00-9:00 PM||Festive dinner with mindfulness eating practices and singing|
|Rabbi’s Words: The Confluence of Kabbalah, Meditation, and Mindfulness in Hanukkah|
|9:00 PM||Restorative Yoga with Donna Nisha Cohen|
Saturday, December 9
|7:00-8:00 AM||Morning Yoga with Donna Nisha Cohen|
|8:00-9:00 AM||Silent Breakfast with Mindful Eating Practices from Judaism and Buddhism|
|9:15 AM-11:00 AM||Morning Davening (Prayer) Service with Singing and Meditation|
|Torah Dharma Talk: Torah at the Intersection of Buddhism, Judaism and Nonviolent Communication: Interactive Study on Special Torah portion with Ben and Roberta|
|11:00 AM-12:00 PM||First Teaching with Rabbi Ben|
|The Sefirot and Hanukkah: Illuminating the Divine Emanations|
|Mindfulness and Meditation in the Jewish Tradition: Being Present with the Divine|
|12:00-1:00 PM||Lunch (with designated areas for those who wish to eat in silence)|
|1:00-2:00 PM||Sitting and Walking Meditation or small group discussion (optional)|
|2:00-3:30 PM||Nonviolent Communication
Interactive Session related to Hannukah themes with Roberta
|3:30-4:00 PM||Walking Meditation: Hitbodedut Meditation in the Woods|
|Chanting, followed by silence|
|4:00-5:00 PM||Exploring the Spiritual Power of Stories through Kabbalistic Tales|
|5:00-6:00 PM||Sitting and Walking Meditation or small group discussion (optional)|
|or Chanting followed by silence|
|7:00-8:30 PM||Evening Teaching|
|The Zohar’s Insight on Hanukkah: Revealing the Hidden Light|
|Cultivating Presence: How Jewish Mindfulness, Buddhism, and Non Violent Communication Work Together|
|8:30-9:00 PM||Havdalah, Evening Meditation, singing and Menorah Lighting for Hannukah|
Sunday, December 10
|7:30-8:00 AM||Morning Sitting and Walking Meditation|
|8:00-9:00 AM||Silent Breakfast|
|9:30 AM-11:00 AM||Teachings and Questions|
|11:30 AM-12:00 PM||Meditation and Davening|
|Hebrew Divine Name Chanting Meditation followed by silence|
|Guided Meditation: Cultivating the Ohr HaGanuz (the Inner Hidden Light of Creation)|
|1:00 PM||Checkout and Departure|
Rabbi Ben Newman embodies mindful Judaism, intertwining over 20 years of study in Jewish and Buddhist wisdom teachings. As a singer-songwriter and storyteller, he enhances contemplative practices with heartfelt chanting and melodies from his guitar, ukulele, and harmonium. An ordained rabbi since 2006, Rabbi Ben founded the Shtiebel in the Rivertowns, promoting inclusive spiritual experiences. His books, such as The Ten Precepts: a Jewish-Buddhist translation of the Ten Commandments, showcase his deep commitment to spiritual exploration. Beloved by learners of all ages, his children’s tales also captivate hearts. Studying worldwide, from Japan to renowned rabbinical colleges, Rabbi Ben’s rich tapestry…
Learn more about Rabbi Ben Newman
Many years ago Roberta Wall’s Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh encouraged her to find the mindfulness in her root Jewish tradition. Now, drawing on two decades of immersion in Jewish learning and practices in the US and Israel, Roberta publishes Torah at the Intersection, a weekly blog integrating the teachings of Buddhism, Judaism and Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For over 20 years she has been offering Jewish Mindfulness retreats and practices and Nonviolent Communication Mindfulness practices in Jewish, Buddhist and other communities, schools, war zones, leadership trainings and organizations globally. She has shared Nonviolent Communication in Palestine and Israel for over ten…
Learn more about Roberta Wall
Donna Nisha Cohen is a nationally certified Kripalu yoga teacher and is the director of Yoga On Duck Pond: Center for Self Discovery Through Yoga in Stone Ridge, NY. In recent years, she has developed a therapeutic approach to yoga influenced by her study of Feldenkrais. She is a certified Embodied Life practitioner. An Embodied Life includes awareness practices utilizing meditation, movement, and Guided Self Inquiry, which is a spiritual modality. Donna began community organizing in the 1970’s as a way to strengthen and empower communities, families, and individuals of diverse backgrounds and orientations. Donna is an original member of the…
Learn more about Donna Nisha Cohen