Tuesday, August 16, 2011

National Jewish Retreat Beings with a Bang

The long-anticipated 6th annual National Jewish Retreat has finally arrived! 

My name is Chava, and I’ll be guest-blogging about some of the fun, exciting and inspirational happenings here at the Retreat.

This afternoon, I watched as retreat participants began to flood into the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Connecticut, excitedly awaiting a packed schedule of classes by world-renowned Jewish speakers and educators, topped off with the best in gourmet Kosher food and entertainment.

After 300 retreaters bonded over a scrumptious BBQ dinner (seriously, a grill-lover’s dream. The spicy fries were my personal favorite), participants split up into groups for some ice-breakers and community building exercises that had participants sharing their ideas of the vital ingredients to building Jewish community.

The two kick-off workshops followed: One was about the mystery of the red string (Superstition, or Reality?) and the “evil eye” in Judaism, taught by Mrs. Rivka Slonim. The other was a first-hand account by Detective Mordechai Dzikansky, who spent 25 years with the NYC Police Department and was later stationed in Israel to gather intelligence on terrorism as the first NYPD Intelligence Division Overseas Liaison. He gave a fascinating talk on current terror trends and ways that we can respond to and prevent terrorism.

I spoke to some of the retreaters as they came out of the classes, and it was energizing to see the enthusiasm of learning spilling out into the lobby as people continued chatting among themselves about what they’d just heard.

I spoke to one young woman who shared with me something that struck her about Mrs. Slonim’s talk on the idea of the “evil eye” in Judaism. “I thought it was so interesting that with just a jealous thought or glance we can affect how a person is judged by G-d -- with unbounded mercy or with strict justice.” she said. “It’s a big responsibility, to train ourselves to cut jealous thoughts out, to share in others’ joy and see them in a positive light. As Mrs. Slonim said, we have our hands on the valves of these energies that flow our way. If we are modest in how we present to others, and see everyone with a good eye, it really has a positive effect on us and everyone around us.”

More great insights and updates to come! Can’t wait for Day 2 - more great classes, food, and participants arriving!

1 comment:

  1. wow! this was such an ice article. I love to put more comments in here!