Over 160 people gathered earlier this month at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, in upstate New York, for Kibbutznik – a weekend of Jewish learning, relaxing with family, and building community. The event is the mid-point of a year-long initiative to engage the growing Russian-speaking Jewish community in Brownstone Brooklyn and some other relatively new enclaves for the group.
From a Friday night musical Shabbat welcome to the beautiful lakeside Havdalah ceremony to rainy Sunday adventures, the weekend was filled with nature, beauty, and Yiddishkeit, in a healthy mix of Russian and English.
Children explored the local barn and farm, and learned about the Jewish values of taking care of the land and animals. Spending time in the art studio, families learned about the meaning of Hebrew names, explored art with nature, and learned about Marc Chagall’s artwork inspired by his upbringing in a Belorussian village.
Parents and grandparents spent their day learning, discussing, debating and – in true kibbutz style – sometimes, teaching in parent-led workshops: How to raise your child as a Mensch? How does technology affect our kids? What’s in a Jewish name? Why is boxing often linked with immigration? What are some effective strategies for communicating and listening to your family?
Everyone came away inspired, with new friends and lots of learned takeaways.
Kibbutznik is a Marks JCH innovative program generously funded by the Genesis Philanthropy Group.