Chesapeake Retreat 2018

Registration is now closed for the 2018 Chesapeake Retreat.

Friday, February 23, 2018 – Sunday, February 25, 2018
Pearlstone Retreat Center, 5425 Mount Gilead Rd, Reisterstown, Maryland 21136

If ​you ​are ​interested ​in ​volunteering, ​leading ​a ​workshop ​or ​service, or ​taking ​on a ​work-study ​role—or if  you have questions—please ​contact the 2018 co-chairs Liat Melnick ​and Marcel Estévez ​at ​ We are looking forward to spending this retreat with you!

Shabbat Zakhor: Community Responses to Remembering Amalek

זָכוֹר, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק, בַּדֶּרֶךְ, בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם.  אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ, וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל-הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִים אַחֲרֶיךָ–וְאַתָּה, עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ; וְלֹא יָרֵא, אֱלֹהִים.  וְהָיָה בְּהָנִיחַ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְךָ מִכָּל-אֹיְבֶיךָ מִסָּבִיב, בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה-אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ–תִּמְחֶה אֶת-זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק, מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם; לֹא, תִּשְׁכָּח.

Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt — how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. Therefore, when the Lord your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! –Deut. 25:17-19


This year, the NHC Chesapeake Retreat will meet over Shabbat Zakhor, the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim. On Shabbat Zakhor, Shabbat of Remembrance, the maftir Torah reading describes an attack by Amalek. We are told to remember what Amalek did to the Israelites, to us, and to “blot out the memory of Amalek from the earth.” This is not an easy text to read!

We are grateful and excited to be in sacred loving community as we read these lines and extrapolate their meanings together. Join ​the ​National ​Havurah ​Committee and ​havurot ​and ​minyanim ​from ​across ​the ​Mid-Atlantic ​for ​the ​NHC ​Chesapeake ​Retreat, ​a ​gathering ​of ​individuals ​and ​families ​of ​all ​ages ​and ​backgrounds.

Jewish tradition offer us several approaches to the text of Shabbat Zakhor. Together we will explore traditional and contemporary interpretations of the story of Amalek, and invite brand new interpretations. How have Jews understood Amalek throughout the ages? Why is the story of Amalek paired with Purim? What’s the relationship between remembering, blotting out, and not forgetting? Is the commandment to blot out Amalek morally objectionable? How is Amalek related to the yetzer hara (evil impulse)? How does the story of Amalek relate to our current political moment, as​ ​marginalized ​groups, ​such ​as ​Muslims, ​immigrants, ​LGBTQ ​people, ​people ​with ​disabilities, ​low ​income ​people, ​and ​indigenous ​communities, are under attack? What is our responsibility in the face of violence perpetrated on the basis of this text? How can we be inspired by this text?

We ​will ​examine ​this ​theme ​and ​enjoy ​a ​weekend ​of ​reflection, ​relaxation, ​community, ​learning, ​and ​music ​at ​Pearlstone ​Conference ​and ​Retreat ​Center, ​February ​23-25, ​2018, ​in ​Reisterstown, ​Maryland.


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.

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