Bringing together the JMN community with its diverse practices, cultures, and observance levels is a unique mission our retreat coordinators cherish every year. Each year JMN’s leadership asks “How do we respect the different religious practices and needs of all of our retreat participants, while creating a cohesive Jewish community over the course of Shabbat and the retreat as a whole? Our membership is so varied in age, observance, Jewish knowledge, customs, and family make up…how can we work to make the retreat a comfortable and safe space for every retreat attendee?”
Therefore, we start with certain core principles in our approach to our retreat Shabbat experience:
- Each person is an equal and important member of our community;
- Our diversity is a positive opportunity to learn from one another;
- Fostering inclusive communal spaces benefits the entire community;
JMN members across the spectrum of observance and affiliation have brainstormed and worked to create the inclusive Shabbat experience, retreat schedule, and programming you’ll find at this year’s retreat.
Here are a few examples of how we are working to accommodate the religious diversity of our community:
- Our retreat is being held at a kosher retreat site. The entire Berkshire Emanuel Camp site is supervised by an on site mashgiach. All meat is glatt kosher and the retreat center will use cholov yisrael dairy products during our retreat.
- All general community programming occurring on Shabbat will not conflict with traditional Shabbat observance (for instance, writing, electricity, or musical instruments will not be an inherent/integral component of the program)
- We will be bringing in Shabbat early the weekend of the retreat to be respectful of families with small children, please consider this when making your travel plans.
- Candles will be provided for candle lighting, members will have the option to both light their own Shabbat candles and/or participate in a group candle lighting ceremony.
- Kosher mevushal wine shall be provided for Shabbat evening and afternoon kiddush. Please respect the kosher supervision of our retreat site and do not bring wine or any other food items. Everything you need will be provided!
- Traditional services will be held if a minyan of interested men is present. Please note that although a traditional minyan is in the schedule, the presence of a minyan for the traditional service has fluctuated in previous years.
- There will be progressive and traditional religious services offered over Shabbat, as well as a wide range of other programming. Participants can choose to participate (or not participate) in any of the religious services offered at the retreat. We understand that there are a variety of ways to celebrate Shabbat, whether that be resting, praying, swimming, or meditating, and ask only that each person in our community respect the choices of others.