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Tables of Contents
Section 1: Welcome
Section 2: Shabbat/ Storytelling
Section 3: Israel
Section 4: Dance
Section 5: Teva

“More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”

(Ahad Ha’am)

We congratulate you for being chosen by your camp to participate in this Shabbat retreat. We look forward to a meaningful learning experience filled with high energy and enthusiasm.
Our program goals include:

  • To create a joyous Shabbat experience

  • To explore camp values around Shabbat

  • To build leadership capacity for implementing Shabbat and Israel programs.

  • To design Shabbat and Israel learning experiences for the camp community utilizing the cultural arts.

  • To further Jewish learning for all participants

During the retreat we would like you to explore your connections to the State of Israel and begin to think about how you will share those connections with your campers during the summer. David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, spoke of a dream to ‘make the desert bloom’.  He spoke not only of working the land, but more metaphorically of the blooming of new life, new homes, and a revived Jewish culture and people in the land of Israel.  Today this phrase points not only to the hope and dream of Israel, but beneath its surface are the complexities and challenges that are as much a part of Israel as they are of any living, breathing, nation state.  During our retreat we will take this concept, with all of its complexities, and use it as our metaphorical doorway into the Israel experience, touching on four dimensions:

  • Making the Desert Bloom? – an exploration of Teva (nature) in Israel

  • The blossoming of an idea – Zionism as a diverse set of ideas and beliefs

  • A culture that blooms – Jewish dance, music and language tradition in Israel

  • Can Peace bloom? – the continuing blossoming of hope in the desert

Our ultimate objective for the weekend is to create a variety of Shabbat and Israel focused learning modules for this upcoming summer. We hope that each of you will acquire the skills and tools to bring Jewish song, dance, nature, and storytelling to your campers. Each participant will receive a CD with Shabbat songs, a resource book with program outlines, an Israeli dance CD and instruction book. We trust that you will be able to use these resources to continue the implementation of innovative Shabbat and Israel programming.

We invite you to consider the following Shabbat themes during the weekend:

SHABBAT AS RENEWAL (Physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual)



As part of our opening activity we would like you to bring an item that represents your connections to Judaism or to Israel.
We are sure that during the retreat you will be able to relax, enjoy, and remain open yourself to new discoveries.
Shabbat shalom,

Evie Rotstein, Project Director Nili Simhai, Teva (Nature)

Matt Dorter, Drama Eva Grayzel, Storytelling

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz, Tefillah & Torah Ruth Goodman, Rikkud (Israeli Dance)

Naomi Less, Shira (Music) Laura Bellows, Teva ( Nature)

This project is funded by the UJA-Federation of New York.

Important Information

Dates: May 29th – June 1st

Time: Thursday arrival at camp 5:00

Sunday departure from camp 12:00

Place: Surprise Lake Camp

382 Lake Surprise Road

Cold Springs, NY 10516

Phone: 845-265-3616

Transportation: Contact your camp director if you need assistance getting to camp.

What to Bring:

  • Bedding, pillow and towel

  • Toiletries

  • White shirt for Shabbat

  • Long pants and long sleeved shirt for hiking

  • Comfortable shoes for walking

  • Comfortable clothes for playing

  • Water bottles

  • Rain gear

  • Instruments to play

  • Sports items

  • Energy and a desire to have fun!!!

Please bring an item that represents your connection to Judaism or Israel.

Retreat Faculty

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz comes to the American rabbinate by a somewhat unconventional route.  Born, raised and educated in London, England, Dr. Gurevitz received her BS and PhD from University College London before entering rabbinic school at the Leo Baeck College.  In 2003 she transferred to Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York from where she was ordained in May 2006. She was called to the pulpit at B’nai Israel in July 2006.

As well as pursuing her academic studies, for three years she gained worship, educational and pastoral experience by serving a student pulpit in Winter Haven, Florida.  In addition she worked with teenage leaders of NFTY as Program Director of URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, New York and served as a member of the management team and prayer leader at Elat Chayyim, a transdenominational retreat center in upstate New York.

Eva Grayzel, Performance Artist, has been telling stories professionally and making a living at it for 18 years.  Her uniquely  interactive style  has taken her world-wide. In addition to performances with meaningful messages, Eva lectures on Turning Adversity Into Opportunity.

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