Alumni Retreat Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this retreat for?

This retreat is for all Jewish Organizing Fellowship alumni and current fellows. Alumni from the past 20 years, from across the country will be joining us for this exciting event and we hope you can join us!

We are also making this event family friendly to allow for alumni who are parents to join us, so children and significant others who make it possible for alums to join for the weekend are welcome as well. We will provide childcare, and are working with a group of parents to better understand what would make this event family friendly. We are still finalizing details, but are working to ensure that this will be a fun and exciting weekend for everyone who joins. You can learn more below under the question Can I bring my family?

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How do I register and when do I need to register by?

You can register at our registration page. There are two registrations, one for if you are just registering yourself, and one for if you are bringing children. Please make sure to register at the correct link.

The early bird registration deadline is October 12, and the final registration deadline is November 1. Note that the rates increase after the early bird deadline, and that the pre-subsidized rates are first come, first serve.

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Where is the retreat and how do I get there?

The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center is off the beaten track. Please review this document for transit options. We will do our best to support you in getting to and from the retreat center by organizing carpools, and exploring arranging shared taxis from the train station or airport as to split costs. We are still working on those details and will be in touch with more information shortly.

We’ve been told taxis from the train station are around $50, and from the Bradley airport are around $150 ($70 in an Uber, but can usually only Uber from the airport to Freedman, not the reverse because of less uber drivers near the retreat center), and we would work to coordinate sharing these as to split costs.

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What is the agenda?

The agenda is in the works, we will put it on the retreat website when we have! It will likely include some Shabbat practice options, shared meals, sessions/workshops, fun activities, childcare, and more!). We anticipate some sessions will be skills based, some spiritual or Jewish content, some topics based, some for relational time and networking, and more.

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What will we do at the retreat?

We are working to plan a retreat that will be meaningful, supportive, powerful, and fun for all attendees. We have a rockstar team of alumni working on an Alumni Retreat Planning Team to support the development of the content. We will celebrate Shabbat together, enjoy each other’s company, connect with new and old alumni, learn and reflect together, and more. We are using input from the 60 alumni who shared their responses in the initial retreat survey as a guide, and will be in touch with the alumni community as needed as we continue to develop the agenda. If you have an idea that you want to see, please reach out!

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What does this retreat cost?

For Individuals: It costs JOIN $300/person for housing and food for the whole weekend, and if you have the resources, we ask you consider paying this full amount, or to pay $400 to support subsidizing other participants’ attendance.  This covers everything – two night stay on site, six meals, snacks, sessions, etc. After the Early Bird registration deadline of October 12, this rate will go up to $330.

JOIN is committed to making this retreat accessible to all alumni and will prioritize working with you to support your ability to attend. One way JOIN is doing this is by setting  aside funding for 25 pre-subsidized registrations for $165 for the whole weekend, first come first serve (we will add more if possible). We will take down this option once those are no longer available. After October 12, if there are remaining slots available, this subsidized rate will go up to $180. If you need further subsidies from this amount, please reach out and we will work with you to find an appropriate rate.

If you need further financial assistance below the pre-subsidized rate for registration, please email Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org by October 8. Your registration can be fully refunded through November 1.  

Pricing summary for individuals:

  • $400: Register yourself and partially fund another participant’s participation
  • $300: Full Registration rate for one adult participant (after October 12, $330)
  • $165: Subsidized adult registration rate (first come first serve, after October 12, if slots remaining goes up to $180).

For families with children:

We are creating family rates to support your ability to join the retreat as an alum with children.

It costs JOIN $300 per adult for housing and food for the whole weekend, and on average around $200 per child for housing, food, and childcare. We have created two Early Bird family rates based on these costs:

  • $575 for two adults and one child, $75 for each additional child
  • $375 for one adult and one child, $75 for each additional child.

If you are able to contribute more, you can fill in below a higher amount which will support us providing subsidies to other families or individuals. After the Early Bird deadline of October 12, the prices will go up (to $650 and $425 respectively).

JOIN is committed to making this retreat accessible to all alumni and will prioritize working with you to support your ability to attend. Please reach out to Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org  by October 8 if you are in need of a subsidy.

On the registration form, you will be able to use the information to fill in what rate you are paying (if you need to pay a rate less than the pre-subsidized rates, please reach out to Tali before registering).

If something changes and you can no longer attend after registering, your registration can be fully reimbursed by November 1 (the final registration deadline).

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I want to come but need financial support, who do I reach out to?

We really want you to join! We will do our best to support you so the cost isn’t a barrier to joining. Please reach out to Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org by October 8 who will work with you to support your attendance. This can be for support with registration or travel costs.

We do encourage you to check with your employer, if you have one, to explore whether they can pay or subsidize your attendance. This will be an amazing networking and professional development opportunity that we expect many of you will be able to bring back to your work wherever that may be.

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Can I bring my family?

This will be a children-friendly retreat, and a chance for your family to experience a Jewish justice experience! To give you a taste of what this looks like:

  • Friday evening through Saturday lunch, we will mainly be celebrating Shabbat together through Shabbat practices and meals, and we will likely have children-specific services options during the practices, as well as other practices
  • After Saturday lunch through Sunday morning, we will be offering children’s programming hosted by Isabella Freedman. For ages 5-12 we will offer their Camp Teva environmental education programming (see sample activity options here), for ages 2-5 they will be offering their Gan Adamah programming (similar to camp Teva but for younger kids). These two programs will provide children with a chance to learn about the environment and explore the nature around them, play games, and have fun! These will be led by experienced environmental educators who work with children. For children under age 2, we will be hiring outside babysitters. We are very excited to be able to offer these exciting opportunities.
  • We are also working on hiring babysitters for evening hours as well so parents can participate after children go to bed, as requested in our conversations with parents. We are still working to figure out the details, but we will likely have babysitters available to listen to baby monitors and be available near housing with children so that they can notify parents if there’s an issue, and/or so that older children have an adult nearby who they can go to if they need anything.

If you plan to bring children, you are welcome to bring a significant other if that would make it possible for you to join. Because of space, costs, and the focus on JOIN alumni at this retreat, significant others are welcome to join only if they have children they are coming to help support. If you need to have your significant other there for any other reason that will make this event accessible to you, please reach out. We have been and will continue to be in conversation with parents to identify needs. You will have a chance to share who is joining you and other needs in your registration. If you have ideas or want to support making this event family friendly, please reach out to Tali at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org to get involved.

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What time is the retreat?

The retreat will begin Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. with candle lighting for Shabbat, and we ask if possible for participants to arrive between 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. However, we understand many of you will be coming from work and will arrive later, and we will make sure we have someone ready to welcome you when you arrive!

The retreat will end around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 2 (which will include lunch).

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What will Shabbat look like?

We are excited to be able to celebrate Shabbat together as a community. We will be incorporating the celebration of Shabbat into our programming, including services, Shabbat meals, and more. All sessions on Shabbat will be Shabbat friendly (i.e. no writing needed, etc.). The retreat center has an eruv, and we will work to match you with roommates upon request who observe Shabbat if you would like a Shabbat friendly dorm room. On the registration form we ask for input about what would make this a Shabbat space for you, so please share needs and requests there. We understand that there is diversity of Shabbat practice in our alumni network, from not practicing at all to traditionally observant, and we will work to meet the needs of all of alumni.

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Is the retreat center accessible?

We are committed to working with you to making this retreat accessible. The retreat center is wheelchair accessible, and if you use a wheelchair please reach out so we can make sure we assign you rooms that meet your needs. In the registration form there is space to share other accessibility needs and we will follow up as needed to work with you to make this an accessible space for you, and your family if you are bringing your children.

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Is the food Kosher?

Yes! All the food at this retreat will be certified Kosher.

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Can I stay off site?

We encourage attendees to join us on site for the retreat. If, however, for any reason you would like to book your own accommodations, you can look at this resource for other options in the surrounding area.

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What are the accommodations like?

You can see examples of the room options here. We will be randomly assigning rooms unless there is a specific need for one or the other (such as bringing families, accessibility needs, etc.). Please share in your registration if you have specific housing needs. Here’s a bit more about what the accommodations look like.

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Can I come to just part of the retreat?

We highly encourage you to join for the entirety of the retreat to get the most out of the experience, which goes from 4:00 p.m. on Friday November 30 (arrival between 2:45-3:45 p.m.) – 1:30 p.m. on Sunday December 2. However, if needed you are welcome to join for part of the retreat. Due to the logistics of the retreat center, we may not be able to pro-rate your cost. If you would like to request pro-rated costs, please reach out to Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org.

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I have a great idea for a training I’d like to see, lead, or reach out to another alum about! Who can I talk to?

Please email Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org who is working with an alumni retreat planning team to plan our content for the retreat.

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Who is organizing this retreat?

We have an amazing Alumni Retreat Planning Team consisting of alumni from over our 20 years of the fellowship driving the shaping of the content and vision for the retreat, as well as supporting recruitment. JOIN staff led by Tali Smookler are point for coordinating the logistics for the retreat and facilitating the team. Additionally, we’ve convened nearly a dozen parents to share input about making this event family friendly, and are working with many other alumni to support recruitment and other aspects of this retreat as interested. We’d love to have your support, please reach out! You can learn more about who is organizing this retreat here.

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What should I pack?

We will share a more robust packing list before the retreat, but in the meantime here is a suggested list from Freedman to give you a sense of what to bring.

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I have other questions, who do I ask?

Reach out to Tali Smookler at tsmookler@joinforjustice.org, or at 617-350-9994 x 208.

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