TheRetreat 2020  June 11-14-Canceled
Save the Date, June 13-14, for VeTreat 2020


TheRetreat is the first and oldest weekend retreat for Jewish men in America. Now in its 74th year, TheRetreat is a long weekend of fun, spirit and learning. This year we are expanding the use of music both in worship and for socializing. We will also continue emphasizing building camaraderie among the campers. So whether this is your 18th time attending or your first, don't miss this great weekend because you'll never know unless you go! 

TheRetreat will be from 2 PM, Thursday, June 11 to 12 PM, Sunday, June 14, 2020 at Camp Ramah in Palmer, MA.

Would you like to attend but are concerned about staying in a camp bunk? Then check out the registration link to learn about new housing options.  

Our guest Scholar-in-Residence for will be Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit, Research Professor of Music and Judaic Studies at Tufts University, Emeritus Hillel Executive Director and Jewish Chaplain at Tufts, terrific guitar player and GRAMMY Award Nominee. Come to the Retreat to hear and learn from a Rabbi, Professor, scholar, ethnomusicologist and great mensch, as he presents four unique and stimulating talks:

The Meaning of our Melodies: Music and Identity in Contemporary Jewish Worship

Why do Jews have such strong feelings about the music we use in prayer? Across America, contemporary Jews come together weekly to sing and pray in a wide variety of worship communities.Through music, we define our relationship to the continuity of Jewish tradition and to the realities of American life.Through song, we affirm who we are—and who we are not—as Jews.
Rabbi Summit will examine the symbolic meaning of our melodies and what is actually happening when we lead, and are led by others, in prayer.  This talk is very timely as FJMC and Conservative Synagogues are debating the use of musical instruments in our prayer services.

Abayudaya: The Music and Culture of the Jews of Uganda

The Abayudaya, a small community in villages in Eastern Uganda, are practicing Jews. Many members scrupulously follow Jewish ritual, observe the laws of the Sabbath, celebrate Jewish holidays, keep kosher and pray in Hebrew. This community self-converted to Judaism in 1919 and has moved increasingly mainstream in their Jewish practice as they are now affiliated with the Conservative Movement.The story of the Abayudaya challenges stereotypes of race, religion and culture. The Abayudaya have endured adversity in the practice of their Judaism, surviving the persecutions of Idi Amin.They have warm, productive relationships with their Christian and Muslim neighbors. At a time when little positive news comes out of Africa, this is a story of hope and faith.
Rabbi Summit has been working with the Abayudaya for the past 20 years. With photojournalist Richard Sobol, he is the author of Abayudaya: The Jews of Uganda. He has also recorded, compiled and annotated a CD entitled “Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda” which was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for best album in the category of Traditional World Music.This fascinating talk will examine the Abayudaya’s musical traditions, their efforts to develop a Fair Trade coffee cooperative with their Christian and Muslim neighbors, along with the culture, history and current situation of this extraordinary Jewish community.

Singing God's Words: Religious Experience, Chant & Sacred Text

Rabbi Summit will discuss how and why a growing number of American Jews see the chanting of Torah as one of the most authentic expressions of their religious identity. Drawing from his recent book, Singing God's Words: The Performance of Biblical Chant in Contemporary Judaism, a study of the meaning and experience of the chanting Biblical texts among contemporary American Jews, he will examine how chanting Torah has taken on new meaning for contemporary Jews of all denominations and share his findings on how this religious ritual is shaped by such forces as digital technology, feminism and contemporary views of spiritual experience.

Bringing it Back Home: A Parting Reflection

“Way back when, God said, ‘On the seventh day thou shalt rest.’ The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge. Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six (From “The Sabbath Manifesto”).
We live in a world where technology has made it almost impossible to “get away,” disconnect from work or the demands of others. But ideally, Shabbat is not like a vacation, something we do a couple of times a year. It’s a set time every week when, in Heschel’s words, “we free ourselves from the tyranny of things.”  Together we will explore some creative ideas about what a workable, meaningful Shabbat might that look like in our lives.

In addition, Rabbi Summit will further enhance our Retreat weekend musically with participation in our Friday evening Tisch, an informal Shabbat afternoon discussion by the lake, Motsei Shabbat Havdalah service & campfire singing, and more.

More information about Rabbi Summit’s distinguished career, publications, recordings and lectures at his website.

The cost for TheRetreat (including all meals and lodging in a bunk) is $275 for first time attendees and $350 for returning campers. This includes registration, kosher meals and lodging in camp bunks. Additional enhanced housing options are available and described on the Registration Page. Please  support TheRetreat. Sponsorship opportunities will be offered on the Registration Page.