Friday August 4 – Tuesday August 8
Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisertown, Maryland
REGISTRATION OPENS MAY 1, 2023
Our theme for this year is ve-asafta וְאָסַפְתָּ “and you shall gather” which can refer to both gathering the community and to gathering in your “new grain, wine and oil” from Parshat Eikev (Deut 11:14). After a few years of being mostly apart, we want to think about all the ways in which we can “gather in.”
Summer Institute provides a unique opportunity for serious study, moving prayer, spirited conversation, late-night jam sessions, singing, dancing, and meditation – all in the company of people from a wide range of backgrounds. Each year, participants leave the Institute reinvigorated and excited to return to their home communities to share new ideas, skills, and experiences.
At the Summer Institute, every teacher is also a student and every student is a teacher. People who are usually called “rabbi” or “professor” throughout the year go by their first names here. And people who rarely take active leadership roles in their communities discover that they, too, can teach and contribute to the community.
One of the NHC Summer Institute’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its participants. We are musicians, doctors, students, furniture makers, retirees, Jewish professionals, homemakers, teachers, activists, and just about everything else:
- Intergenerational: At a previous Summer Institute, the youngest participant was a month and a half old, while we had 9 folks in our midst with the wisdom of over 80 years. Participants from all age groups shared meals, stories, teachings, songs, and talents.
- Pluralistic and Inclusive: The NHC Summer Institute includes people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, Jews from birth, Jews by choice, Jews with multiple religious heritages, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism.
- Diverse backgrounds and lives: NHC Summer Institute participants hold a variety of identities including LGBTQ and straight; people of color, Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels.
- Learning for Everyone: NHC Summer Institute participants also have a variety of Jewish learning backgrounds, from those with no formal Jewish education to those with Ph.D.s in Talmud.The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Summer Institute.
What to expect at Summer Institute
At previous Summer Institutes, participants have led each other in a different menu of spirited prayer options in many styles, including traditional egalitarian with full Hebrew liturgy, plus meditative, movement, and musical services, with and without instruments, both indoors and outdoors. All minyanim organized and sponsored by the NHC are fully egalitarian, with equal participation regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
One way in which we share ourselves with each other at the Summer Institute is through short (approximately 45 minutes- an hour) workshops. Anyone can propose a workshop, and it’s a great place to try out a new idea or experiment with teaching and leading. This is a great way to share something with our community. Workshops can be presented in any format that the teacher/facilitator can imagine, from discussion to hevruta/paired learning to lecture to shared activity (e.g., group run).
At a prior Summer Institute, a toddler co-led a workshop on appreciating ants, concurrently with others’ workshop discussions of The Best (and Worst) of Big Biblical Epics, a trip to Budapest, Warsaw, and Krakow to study the legacies of the Jewish life, antisemitism, and resistance in these cities, Shabbat Menus for Busy People, Bhakti: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lord, and Admission to Olam Haba: A Post-Temple Rabbinic Power Grab? Other options included Yiddish Dancing to Live Music and a Birth/Parenting Story Slam. And that was just one of 8 workshop slots during the week!
Courses are a central part of the Institute experience. This year, courses will meet in the morning and afternoon on Sunday and Monday. You can choose to take one 4-session course or two 2-session courses. Each course has a maximum of 20 students and is led by a teacher who is also an Institute participant, presenting material that they love in an inclusive style that encourages everyone to participate.
Each evening after dinner, the community gathers for programming as a large group. Some of these programs may be led by the Timbrel Artists in Residence, or the Liturgist in Residence. Some may be serious discussions of issues we want to engage with as a community. Some will be lighter-hearted ways to connect.
NHC is an intergenerational community NHC Kids Camp is a thriving and central part of our gathering. Kid’s Camp at this year’s institute will provide a place for children to have fun and build relationships with each other and the rest of the NHC community.
And whatever else you want to make happen!
In previous years, people have organized large group evening programs like talent shows and dance parties. Folks have coordinated a shuk where participants can display and sell their creations. And in the evening after the large-group program, there have been late-night programming which offer structured opportunities to enjoy each others’ company: making music (American folk singing, sharing niggunim, instrument jam session), playing games (board, card, improv), dancing (cardio, Israeli folk), singing along to movie musicals, additional studying, and other sorts of merry-making. All participants can volunteer to lead a program in their registration.
Looking to make contact with folks from your home geography? Are you an early riser who wants to circumnavigate campus with others before breakfast? Seeking support for building your crochet or Torah reading skills? Need a haircut? Put up a notice about your interest and where and when others can meet up with you. We are the ones who build our community! We are the ones who decide what that looks like!
Key things to know about the Covid policy. Click here to read the full details which may evolve as we get closer.
- Everyone ages 5 and above attending must show proof of at least three vaccine/booster doses. If you want to apply for an exemption, contact us before you register. Vaccines are highly recommended but not required for children 6 months – 5 years.
- Masks are required in all indoor communal spaces. We highly recommend NIOSH-approved N95s but you may also wear surgical or other high filtration masks. Cloth masks, ski masks, and gators are not acceptable.
- Everyone will need to self administer a rapid test each day. You will need to test on Friday before you arrive, and then bring four tests per person with you. We understand that this is a hardship and are working on ways to have some tests available for people who need them.
- Most community-wide events will take place outdoors. Classes and workshops will be offered both indoors and outdoors. Food will be served on an indoor buffet line and you’ll have the option of eating indoors or outside.
Some notes on pricing & housing
Overnight accommodations are a mix of hotel style rooms and youth hostel style rooms. The hotel style rooms have private bathrooms and 1 or 2 queen sized beds. The youth hostel style rooms have 2-6 beds per room and may share bathrooms with other rooms. Youth hostel beds are regular twins or bunk beds. You’ll be able to pay on a sliding scale which allows you to pay 15% or 25% less than the base price OR to pay an additional amount to support the NHC’s year round work.
- Adult or child 12+ in a hotel style room $1150
- Child 3-11 in a hotel style room $650
- Adult or child 12+ in a youth hostel style room $900
- Child 3-11 in a youth hostel style room $550
- Child under 3 free