Friday, February 24, 2017 – Sunday, February 26, 2017
Pearlstone Retreat Center, 5425 Mount Gilead Rd, Reisterstown, Maryland 21136
The NHC Chesapeake Retreat from February 24-26 was a great success! Thank you to everyone who made the weekend happen and who brought melodies, teachings, laughter, and more.
About the Retreat
The National Havurah Committee (NHC) Chesapeake Retreat is a weekend-long gathering of individuals and families from the Mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere who come together to build community, study, pray, sing, dance, work on an organic farm, relax in a beautiful rural setting, make new friends, and otherwise have fun. Held at the Pearlstone Retreat Center outside Baltimore, Maryland, the annual gathering draws people of all ages, Jewish identities and practices, and interests. For some attendees, this is an opportunity to catch up with their NHC friends living in other cities. For others, this is a first introduction to the NHC community. The Chesapeake Retreat prides itself on being welcoming and accessible to newcomers, individuals with disabilities, individuals with all types of Jewish education and practice, individuals of all ages, and all others. This is a space to be ourselves, to learn from each other, to explore an annual theme, and to recharge our spirits within a warm and welcoming community.
The annual retreat begins with schmoozing and check-in, followed by songful, soulful Friday night services. Post-dinner activities include Shabbat singing and the first of the weekend’s four workshop sessions, each of which feature teachings and discussions on a variety of topics, including this year’s theme.
Saturday morning brings both traditional and alternative Shabbat service options, led by community members and designed to engage our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. The afternoon brings more workshops, singing, outdoor activities, and time to relax. Another workshop follows dinner, as well as socializing, a campfire, and games. All activities on Shabbat are designed to be compatible with a range of religious practices.
Sunday morning includes a chance to work on Pearlstone’s organic farm, the final workshop session, and a farewell circle. Many members of the community will gather for lunch at a nearby kosher-certified restaurant before heading home.
How you spend your Chesapeake Retreat is up to you. Some attendees go to every workshop session; some go to none. Some join spirited conversations with old or new friends. Others relax, read, or go for a hike. Do what you find meaningful and fun!
This Year’s Theme
In the wake of a difficult election, terrifying prospects for our country, ourselves, and our neighbors, we prepare to gather together for a retreat – a communal breath at Pearlstone.
This year’s theme underscores the importance of caring for oneself as a way to be present in community. Only when we take care of ourselves can we then care for others. Parshat Mishpatim, which will be read during this year’s Chesapeake Retreat, says, “Six days you may do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, in order that your ox and your donkey shall rest, and your maidservant’s son and the stranger shall be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12)
We will continue to ask the big questions this weekend at Pearlstone. Particularly now, we will ask them. What steps can we take to rectify racial injustice? How can we use inclusive language to respect diversity in our communities and in all spaces we occupy? In what ways can our communities be welcoming to refugees and minorities seeking asylum from unsafe spaces? How does Jewish law and history reinforce our obligation to pursue justice?
We will also make time during this weekend to ask questions such as, how do I know when I am burning out? Am I allocating my personal energy in a healthy way, sustainable way? How do I get more involved or conversely, shed some of my responsibilities? Additionally, we will focus on our whole selves with workshops focused more on mindfulness, breathing, and yoga.
The 2017 Chesapeake Retreat will explore all of this and more from both theological and practical perspectives through workshops, age-appropriate children’s programming, and communal prayer. Together, we will renew our dedication to justice, dignity, and peace in our communities and our world.
Thanks for reading all of that!
Michele Leah ad Liat Melnick
NHC Chesapeake Retreat 2017 Co-chairs