The 8th National Jewish Retreat Sinai Scholoars
Author(s): Robin Roth
Photos: Robin Roth
Editor: Aaron Hulse
Published: August 28, 2013





The National Jewish Retreat


Our demanding schedules, hectic days and busy lives can leave little time for ones spiritual growth. The National Jewish Retreat each year brings the gift and opportunity for an exciting journey with inspirational and motivating scholars to experience Judaism.

The retreat is based on the principal that the power of Jewish thinking will enrich and deepen the purpose of your life. The five fully packed days of learning and discovery was taught by brilliant master Torah teachers. I, along with everyone at the retreat, was able to explore new ideas and expand our horizons in an open, safe and embracing environment.

This awesome retreat took place from August 7-11-2013. It was a remarkable adventure into the land of wisdom and knowledge. The days overflowed with insight, awareness, spirituality, lessons, tears, laughter, understanding, life changing messages and true brilliance.

The weekend was empowering, awe-inspiring, educational and lots of fun. In addition, I was able to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate my being and spirit in a lavish setting. I met new lifetime friends from all over the world. It was such a pleasure getting together and speaking with fascinating and interesting people. The experience gave me a whole new world of insight and meaning to my own life, as well as Jewish living.

Attendees were not only filled with riveting individual experiences, but discovered that Jewish life is not just for the study hall and synagogue, but for personal, day-to-day living. There was such warmth hovering over all of us for 5 beautiful days. One could actually feel the love and light of Hashem smiling down with joy over the entire retreat.

For years, hundreds of people from around the world came together for learning and recreation at the National Jewish Retreat. Building on the incredible success of past retreats, the eighth annual retreat offered a broad array of options for personal growth and enjoyment. This year's program was designed to engage the mind and refresh the spirit. This was, without a doubt accomplished in every sense possible.

What I found particularly wonderful was that I had the opportunity to meet other people from all over the world and walks of life who are on the same spiritual path as I am. I found it comforting to know that others are also, investigating the same questions, needs, passion for learning, doubts, concerns, and each of us reflecting on the same truths. We were provided with ample opportunity to explore text and tradition with master scholars and teachers. What a remarkable and enlightening opportunity.


The only negative I can say about my retreat experience was that there were at least 5 lectures going on at the same time, making it almost impossible to pick which one I wanted to attend. I wanted to go to each and every lecture offered, though impossible. So, I did the next best thing and I purchased all of the videos to take the retreat home with me and keep me on course. The ones I selected were fascinating, brilliant, filled with knowledge and intriguing ideas and philosophies. They were entertaining, sensitive, and truthful, all the while bringing a sense of awakening to each of our lives. All of the speakers were tremendous with their own unique style and delivery. I found every one of the lectures to be timely, relevant to everyday living, topical, pertinent, significant and important in today's complex world. Simply put, they were basically life changing and awe-inspiring.

Demystifying the After life: This amazing lecture by Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet was probably my favorite of the retreat. What a profound and eloquent speaker. I was captivated by his every word. It was comforting to hear him declare that without a question of a doubt, our loved ones who have passed see us, guide us, hear us and watch over us. We can elevate their souls by doing mitzvahs in their honor. Rabbi Schochet went on to say that when you are drawn to a cause or a situation in your life, then that is your mission and purpose. When we do good deeds our angels (which we have 2 of) will lead us to good. If we do evil, they can and will leave us. He also, stated that we are born and die against our will. We don't want to come back as we are happy with Hashem and we don't want to leave when we get here because this is where we can make our corrections. Fascinating.


Comedy and Healing: Was presented by Saranne Rothberg. She explained that she has cancer and is a walking miracle. Humor and Hashem, she stated, has kept her alive. She said that Hashem wants us to have a sense of humor especially at Shabbat. LOOK, she showed us, "HA-SHEM and S-HA-BAT"!!!! Dance, sing, laugh and bring joy and laughter to others... Hashem is always doing good things to us even if it seems crazy or weird or we don't want it.  Like a ritual, wash away and rid yourself of stress and worries. You will achieve more goals with joy. Treat yourself to everything that brings you joy.

Subduing Sadness: The Tanya's Guide to Achieving Happiness:  Rabbi Shais Taub taught this lecture. We were shown the interplay between mental and spiritual health through the lens of Torah. He said, "Happiness is not a right, it's an obligation; it's not a goal but a means to a goal".  He explained that, "Happiness, means you can't be worried".

Warsaw Ghetto Symposium: Exploring the Historical, Psychological, and Halachic Perspectives of the Uprising: 

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All in attendance were so powerfully moved by this remarkable Holocaust survivor, Mrs. Estelle Laughlin. The rest of the distinguished panel was: Historians: Dr. Miriam Isaacs, Dr. Ann Millin and psychotherapist and Rabbi Dr. Hersh Weinreb. At this fascinating, heart retching and moving lecture, they spoke of the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and how the story of defiance should never be forgotten. It was a tribute to Jewish courage, bravery, anguish and struggles. There was not a dry eye in the house as Mrs. Laughlin spoke of her touching story of courage and dignity. She told us that she was a 13 year old girl in Poland hiding in bunkers when the Germans took her and her family. She said, "I didn't cry because I wanted to spare my family. I didn't cry because I didn't want my enemy to see my tears". She said that the children and the elder's were killed first. No one under 14 was allowed to live. She told us that 600 prayer groups smuggled oil in to light the Shabbat candles. This little EXTRAORDINARY woman was a giant before our eyes. She humbled and inspired us all. It's remarkable how Estelle kept her hope, strength and will to live. It's astounding how after all that she went through she wasn't angry and bitter. Thank you Estelle for sharing your remarkable story of valor.

Secrets from Kaballah How to enrich your family, social, professional and marital bonds: Rivkah Slonim spoke on Fire, air, water, and earth and how they relate to our everyday lives from the two perspectives. One being the average normal responses verses someone who wants to live a life of gold and the interpretations of both. Wonderful and very enlightening.


Homosexuality: Is the Torah Intolerant?

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What a hard lecture for Rabbi Yosef Jacobson. He tried very hard to be sensitive and compassionate discussing this most delicate topic. He told us that he has had to deal with this topic and congregants many times. People were there not only to hear what he had to say but to challenge him as well. Rabbi Jacobson tactfully rose to the occasion. He explained that having homosexual urges is not a sin but acting on them is. The lecture turns conventional wisdom on its head, and argues that the Torahs approach to homosexuality is the most tolerant of all. He also, told us that the soul is infinite and the heart is endless. The Rabbi wound up staying over a half an hour longer talking to people about  their concerns and  feelings on this very delicate subject. Remarkable...

Open-Soul Surgery: Rabbi Yosi Paltiel was an eloquent and informative speaker.


He exlained that there are 5 levels of the soul. Level 1 and 2 being the light and levels 3-4-and 5 being life. The soul by nature is loyal and the infinity of the soul belongs to you.  The soul at the highest level is the expression of Hashem.  Frustrations, challenges and weakness define who we are. In our soul is harmony, peace, self control, joy and freedom. Joy, love and not being afraid is the real human experience that  is ours on the soul level. He spoke of how the truth hurts... If you want excellence, you need to hear the truth and honesty. The truth doesn't have a heart. Parrell to the world struggle, is the world of peace.

Philosophy for Living a More Meaningful Life: Overview of the Tanya, Part I:

Rabbi Shais Taub essentially spoke to us that the study of the Tanya is the work of a lifetime, However, its lessons can be put to use from day one. He explained that we may not be perfect, but we can do perfect. Rabbi Taub stated that sadness is not a problem, it's inherently profitable. If it's the right kind of sadness, it can take you to joy. If it's real sadness, it ends quickly.  Joy and being emotionally happy is typically Jewish.


The Kabbalah of Art: Why Nothing Is More Abstract Than Reality: Rabbi Asher Crispe yet another brilliant speaker told us how we continually play upon the nature of our perception. The great masters often force us to reflect upon what our eyes perceive. There is something independent of awareness.  He questions, does art merely copy reality or create it?


Here are some more of the lectures offered:

The Crime of Standing Still/  Why Do We Need Jewish Medical Ethics? / The Lunar Woman: Rosh Chodesh in Jewish Literature/ The New You for the New Year / A Jewish Guide to Thanks-Giving / Etiquette in the World of the Sick / Is There a Better Me?  / My Encounter with the Lubavitcher Rebbe / Warning: Existence is Not as it Appears Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides? / The Myth of the Nice Guy/ American Judaism's Contemporary Scoreboard / Behind the Scenes of the Heavenly Drama /
Torah Study: A Jewish Obsession / Therapy with Soul: New Trends in Religion and Psychotherapy /

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Creative Writing Workshop /  Personal Encounters: An Interview with Nat Lewin / The Ethnic Cleansing of the Iraqi Jews / Baking workshop / The Systematic Beauty of the Jewish Calendar/ Women's Reflection Sessions / Singles Mixer / How to Pray with Passion and Purpose / Abolishing Anxiety: The Tanya's Guide to Joyful Living / The Ten Commandments: How Judaism and Christianity Differ /Whose Life Is It, Anyway?/ Abortion and Jewish Law: Understanding the Classical Sources / When the Fire of Inspiration Begins to Dim: Judaism 2.0 / The Curious Case of the Lost Shawl /Medical Roulette: Risky and Experimental Treatments / Creative Writing Workshop / Israel's Dangerous Dance with Diplomacy/ Staying out of Harm's Way: The Talmud's Perspective on Mitzvahs and Risk Management /Medical Utopias of the Future / Family Feud: Can't We All Just Get Along?  / Lean In: Feminism in 2013 through a Jewish Lens / Philosophy for Living a More Meaningful Life: Overview of the Tanya, Part II / Surviving and Thriving after Tragedy / Special Excursion: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Outing /
The Final Moment: Defining Death and Respecting Life / Helen Nash's New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish / Stairway to Heaven: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Prayer / The Power of Speech / Whole Psychiatry: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body / Jerusalem, We Have a Problem / Jewish History Illuminated by Five Coins/ The Rebbe: the 20th Century's Greatest Leader An Inspirational and Uplifting Musical Tribute / What's with the Dark Refrigerator? Overcoming Religious Differences / Film: The Final Victory: The Story of Felix Zandman / The Chassidic Formula to Emotional Well-being / The Ultimate Gift: Organ Donation in Jewish Law / Are You Living or Just Existing? / The Chosen People: Who Chose Whom? / The Origins of the Laws of Prayer / Oncofertility: Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy/ How Jews Changed American Culture / King David: Ruler, Warrior, Poet and Scholar / Finders, Keepers: The Jewish Laws of Lost Property /  Extending Life or Prolonging Death? / Challah Baking with the Rebbetzins / Secrets from Kaballah: How to Enrich your Familial, Social, Professional and Marital Bonds / The Ladder of Prayer / A Rabbi's View on the BRCA Gene Mutation / Inch by Inch is a Cinch / Is Religion Good for the World? / The Power of Positive Thinking / Guided Nature Walk Outing/ 
The Living Torah: From Sinai to Cyberspace / Wine and Dine the Shabbat Way: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Shabbat Traditions / Six Steps to Joy through Nigunim /Jewish Identity: A Source of Pride or Shame? / The Rebbe's Three Gifts to the World: Feminism, Zionism and the Baal Teshuva Movement / How to Pray with Passion and Purpose Whose Life Comes First? / Does History Prove there is a G-d? / Face the Jewish Nation: Q&A Session with Rabbi Manis Friedman / Forever Young: Has Your Inner Fire Burned Out? / Playing by the Rules: Your Guide to the Laws of Shabbat / The Jewish Take on New Beginnings / Great Jewish Physicians of the Past / A Traditional Chassidic Repast for Mind, Heart, and Soul / Keynote: 21st Century Technology: A Threat or a Promise? / Keynote: Can We Change G-d's Mind?  / Keynote: Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and Abraham Lincoln: Transforming Psychological Faults into Spiritual Strengths / Keynote: The Jewish Spring: The Religious Revolution of Our Times / The Silver Lining Under Clouds of Curses / Medical Ethics Crossfire Panel / Do You Believe in Life After Life? / Sensual Sanctity / Yin and Yang / The Multi-Dimensional Experience of the Passover Seder / 2013 Update: Ethical Insights into New Medical Technologies  / Crossfire!  / Parenting Pains of Modern Society / Why Laughter is a Lifesaver / You Can Do the Impossible / The Origins of the Laws of Prayer  / Discovering the Real You: You're Greater Than You Think ...

Shabbat Candle Lighting: All the women at the retreat individually lit the candles. It was stunning to see all the glowing and flickering lights for Hashem.


Two young, articulate and exciting students were asked to give a speech on how they became involved with Chabad and the Sinai Scholars Program. They spoke of how significantly the program has changed their lives...They were inspiring, compelling, entertaining and heartwarming. In a world where you hear so many bad things about the youth of today, it was a real treat to hear from two successful and intelligent young adults on the right track for greatness. They are wonderful role models that bring hope and wisdom to their peers.

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Special Excursions for the scholars: The Holocaust Museum, The Smithsonian and The Capital in Lights Cruise: Several outings were planned for the Sinai Scholars giving them the opportunity to relax and discover Washington D.C. These young adults had the most awesome, fun time of their lives.

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Dudu Fisher: Best known for his role in Les Miserables on Broadway and performing his concert in famous theatres around the globe.  Mr. Fisher brought down the house with his amazing voice, gentle manner, comedy and versatility. He was perfect for the crowd. His show included such a wide combination of music ranging from Yiddish, to Hebrew, to rock and roll to Broadway. He had us in the palm of his hands. Dudu truly mesmerized the audience. We laughed, we cried and we enjoyed. Eventually, we all ended up on our feet dancing with delight at the end of his show. 

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Dudu happily stayed longer so we could all bask in the happiness he brought us. Bravo!!

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Comic relief: At the conclusion of Shabbat, Mr. Steve Mittleman entertained the crowd on "All things Jewish", with his unique comedic style.




When Sami Rohr was a young real estate developer living in Bogotá, Colombia, in the 1950s, fundraisers from abroad often came to collect money from the local Jewish community. While Rohr donated to all of them, he encouraged his employees to do the sam. The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement impressed him more than others. There was a beautiful tribute honoring Mr. Rohr. A film presentation was given to celebrate this great man's life and all the kindness, commitments and wonderful things he brought to the Chabad community, as well as the entire world. What an outstanding human being and mench.

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Speaking of great menches, George Rohr the son of Sami Rohr is a major philanthropist in the religious and secular world.

He passionately spoke at the retreat about the Sinai Scholars Program with all the humbleness and pride a person can have. He spoke of his father and all his greatness (who has recently passed on) with love in his heart. Mr. Rohr (the principal benefactor) together with his wife Pamela has provided unparalleled support for the Chabad On Campus network in general. When asked why he donates so generously to Sinai Scholars, Mr. Rohr responded modestly, "I'm not a philanthropist," he said. "I'm an investor and I know of no more valuable a cause in which to invest. It simply gives me the best return on my money." The Sinai Scholars Society, a joint initiative of Chabad on Campus and the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, is an innovative program enabling students at 67 campuses across North America to explore Jewish texts and realize the enduring importance of the Torah to contemporary society.

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Mr. Rohr received an AB in Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  It was without a doubt an honor and privilege to be in the presence of such an outstanding, righteous and noble human being.


Rabbi Shlomo Dovber Pinchas Lazar: better known as Berel Lazar, is an Orthodox, Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic rabbi and a native of Milan, Italy, He is presently Chief Rabbi of Russia, and chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities. In September 2005 Lazar became a member of the Public Chamber of Russia. In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an edict to honor him with the Order of Friendship. This award is being presented for the contribution made by Rabbi Lazar to developing culture and strengthening friendship between nations within Russia


Rabbi Moshe J. Kotlarsky: is the Vice Chairman of the Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was educated at the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, the main Lubavitch Yeshiva. He directs development of the global Chabad-Lubavitch emissary network initiating the sending of Shluchim (emissaries) to countless of countries. He directs the Kinus Hashluchim, the international conference of the Chabad Shluchim that takes place in New York each fall. He is the Chairman of the Jewish Learning Institute and Chabad on Campus.


Dr. Jonathan Sarna: is the professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper as one of America's fifty most influential American Jews, he is the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life.  Dr. Sarna is a prolific author, including the award-winning seminal work, American Judaism: A History.

Rabbi Berel Bell: is a Judge in the Rabbinical Court of Montreal, head of Kollel Beis Yosef for advanced Talmudic studies, and a noted author, lecturer and educator. Rabbi Bell founded Bias Chaya Mushka Seminary in Montreal and served as its dean for many years. He is the creator of Rambam on the Line, a service syndicated in over 50 cities worldwide. Rabbi Bell is author of the noted JLI course "Sinai to Cyberspace" and also serves as the director of Teacher Training for JLI.

Mrs. Rivah Slonim: Education director at the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton University, Rivkah is a self-described "Chassidic Feminist" who lectures internationally on the intersection of Jewish observance and contemporary life with a special focus on Jewish women. She is the editor of Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology and Bread and Fire: Jewish Women Find G-d in the Everyday,an anthology on Jewish women's spiritually.

Rabbi Avrohom Jacks: For the past ten years, South Africa born Rabbi Avraham Jacks has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Zichron Kedoshim in Montreal Canada. Rabbi Jack's eclectic education includes a degree in computer science from McGill University, a certificate in J.E.T. Kinesiology as well as studies in traditional Chinese medicine. An artful storyteller, Rabbi Jacks has lectured worldwide on profound theological questions, science and religious and emotional health. His numerous articles and sermons have been published in various publications.

Mrs. Shimona Tzukernik: A native of South Africa, Mrs. Tzukernik, a corporate trainer, personal mentor, artist, and lecturer, creates innovative curricula designed to help people achieve maximum performance by disrupting their conventional ways of thinking. Her corporate training workshops offer business training solutions that allow for lasting change from the inside out.  Tzukernik is the founder and director of Omek, a center devoted to in-depth transformational learning for women. She is the creator of the Inner Vision Seminar and a course author for the JLI.

Mr. Bradley Gordon: is currently the Director of Policy and Government Affairs at American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is responsible for guiding AIPAC's policy development, lobbying, research, and policy communications activities. He had been AIPAC's Legislative Director since January 1995. Mr. Gordon graduated cum laude and with Honors in Politics from Brandeis University, received a Master of Arts degree in political science and a Masters of Philosophy degree from Columbia University.

Rabbi Yona Reiss: Dean of Yeshiva University's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), is a Rabbi, attorney, and jurist who served from 1998 to 2008 as Director of the Beth Din of America, the largest rabbinical court in the United States. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Yeshiva University and received his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal.  He received his rabbinic ordination from RIETS, where he also earned the distinction of Yadin Yadin, an advanced juridical ordination.

Dr. David Luchins: has been Chair of the Political Science Department at Touro College since 1978. He is a graduate of Yeshiva College, and earned his doctorate from the CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Luchins teaches courses in American Politics and International Relations and serves as Founding Dean of Touro's Lander College for Women. Dr. Luchins served on the staff of United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan for twenty years as special assistant, senior assistant and ultimately senior advisor to the Senator.

Dr. Gill Heart: was born and raised in Israel where he served as an officer in an elite, Special Forces unit in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) training and commanding soldiers in his unit. After receiving his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College, London University, he moved to the United States and became an entrepreneur.  Over the past 10 years, Dr. Heart has successfully founded and led venture-backed, medical device startups. During this time, Dr. Heart followed a serious course of study of Torah and Jewish mysticism.

Mr. Eli Rosenbaum: the longest-serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi criminals will recount the efforts that he and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Justice have pursued for the past 30 years. Mr. Rosenbaum is the Director of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) since 1994 which investigates and prosecutes WWII-era Nazi criminals as well as recent crimes of genocide and torture committed abroad.

Rabbi Manis Friedman: is a world-renowned author, lecturer, and social commentator with a provocative and incisive wit. He has been featured in over 200 print articles and interviewed on over 50 television and radio talk shows. He hosted his own critically acclaimed cable television series, Torah Forum with Manis Friedman, syndicated throughout North America. Friedman's 1990 book, Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore, is currently in its fifth printing.   In 1971, Friedman founded Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies in Minnesota, the world's first yeshiva exclusively for women, where he continues to serve as dean.

Dr. Erica Brown: is the Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation and a consultant for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  Dr. Brown is the author of Inspired Jewish Leadership, a National Jewish Book Award finalist and Spiritual Boredom, and co-author of The Case for Jewish People hood.  She  has served as an adjunct professor at American University and George Washington University  and  lectures widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership, in addition to extensive writing in journals of education and Jewish studies and writes a weekly internet essay called "Weekly Jewish Wisdom" (www.pjll.org) that also appears on the Newsweek/Washington Post's "On Faith" website. 

Rabbi Moshe Bryski: is the director and spiritual leader of Chabad of the Conejo in Agoura Hills, CA. He also helped establish Chabad centers in neighboring Westlake Village, Calabasas, Oak Park, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, all of which are under the Chabad of the Conejo umbrella. Rabbi Bryski is a gifted teacher and the Founder of the Conejo Jewish Academy, an adult Jewish education institution that attracts approximately 3,000 students each year to its many offerings.

Mr. Nathan Lewin; A graduate of Yeshiva College, Nathan (Nat) Lewin earned his J.D. magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. Since then, Mr. Lewin has been a champion for advocating for First Amendment rights and civil liberties. Mr. Lewin has argued for the right to display public Chanukah Menorahs across the country as well as for army personnel to wear Yarmulkas and religiously motivated beards while on duty and Jewish prisoners to obtain Kosher food.
In his more than forty five year legal career, he has argued in the Supreme Court of the United States twenty-seven times. Mr. Lewin for more than 25 years in "The Best Lawyers in America."  His high profile clients included former President Richard Nixon and Attorney General Edwin Meese.

Simcha Weinstein: is an internationally known, best-selling author. His first book Up, Up and Oy Vey!, received the Benjamin Franklin Award for the best book of 2007. He has appeared on CNN Showbiz Tonight and NPR, and has been profiled in leading publications, including The New York Times, The Miami Herald and The London Guardian. He is a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), and other publications. His latest book Shtick Shift: Jewish Humor in the 21st century is out now. He chairs the Religious Affairs Committee at the renowned New York art school, Pratt Institute.

Rabbi Simon Jacobson: heads The Meaningful Life Center (www.meaningfullife.com), which bridges the secular and the spiritual through a wide variety of live and on-line programming. Rabbi Jacobson is the author of the best-selling book Toward a Meaningful Life, a William Morrow publication that has sold over 300,000 copies to date and has been translated into 10 languages.  For over 14 years Rabbi Jacobson, as Editor-in-Chief of VHH, was responsible for publishing the talks of the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He also headed the research team for Sefer Halikutim - an encyclopedic collection of Chassidic thought.

Mr. Michoel Muchnik: among the foremost Jewish artists today, has revolutionized Chassidic art. His imaginative and joyful depiction of traditional and mystical Jewish themes brought him critical acclaim and international prominence as a most beloved Jewish artist.  Muchnik has staged exhibits of his original paintings, bas-relief mosaics and lithographs throughout the world. His originals have been displayed at the Brooklyn Museum, the Goldman Arts Gallery in Washington, D.C., Yeshiva University Museum in New York, Dansforth Museum in Massachusetts, the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Shaarei Tzedek Collection in Israel. He recently created "The Treasured Land", a 6'x24' sculptural mural depicting the Land of Israel for the Jewish Children's Museum in New York.

Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan: is the director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Maryland region, overseeing its more than 20 Chabad Centers. A noted Torah scholar and a part time lecturer at the University of Maryland, he hosts Awake, Alive, and Jewish, a weekly radio program in the Washington D.C. metro area, and co-hosted Diana, Mike, and the Rabbi, an national award winning weekly cable TV program. Rabbi Kaplan is the chairman of JLI's advisory board and is a member of its executive committee in addition to serving as a member of the board of directors of Merkos L'Inyonie Chinuch the International Lubavitch education arm.

Greenwald Caterers provided the amazing gourmet kosher foods... ...

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Their logo is: "WHERE KOSHER MEETS ELEGANCE" and they more than accomplished that. We basically ate all day, every day the most delectable and scrumptious kosher foods. The variety was outrageous, not to mention the vast range of 'to die for' deserts. Every food item imaginable was presented. It all tasted like Bubbie used to make. Ah memories!!! The food was so wonderful that no one could resist no matter how hard we tried to watch what we ate. Didn't work, I know we all gained weight, but it was well worth it! YUM...

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40 E 8th Street,  Lakewood, NJ 08701 - Telephone: (732)370-8300 -  E-mail:info@greenwaldcaterers.com

THE Musical Havdalah:

Was a perfect, memorable and fitting conclusion and farewell to the Shabbat. The touching ceremony was outside around the Gazebo under the twinkling stars. Everyone was touched with a sense of warmth and serenity. It was very clear that we all felt abundantly energized for the coming week.

The stunning, awe-inspiring visions of the many candles rising up into the sky towards Hashem were breathtaking. The tastes, the sounds of beautiful music and the smells of fragrant spices, brought peace in our souls and joy and gratefulness in our hearts.

The Hilton Alexandria-Mark Center Hotel


From its Italian marble lobby to the beautiful lake, patio, gazebo and its stunning floral garden, the Hilton Alexandria-Mark Center hotel offered an elegance and comfort to everyone at the retreat in the Washington DC area.

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It was truly a home away from home. The friendly staff was stellar. They were so very helpful and thoughtful to all of us attending the retreat. Furthermore, they were there for every single need each one of us had with promptness and true kindness.

The newly renovated guestrooms were spacious, comfortable and provided an array of convenient amenities. The hotel's beautiful lakeside setting, bordering to 43 acres of botanical preserve, created an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of Alexandria which was so apropos for this occasion.  


When I first began my National Jewish Retreat journey, I walked into this experience a bit anxious while staring at 1000 strangers. By the end of 5 magnificent enlightening days, I felt as though we were all one big family. I cannot recommend this extraordinary retreat highly enough. If It doesn't change your life forever, it will certainly bring new meaning and purpose to it. I was able to question and ask whatever was on my mind as well as things I always wanted answers to. This enabled me to realize new and old concepts and finally understand them. The lessons, the teachings, the food, the warmth, the studies, the people, the inspiration, the food, the laughter, the tears, the joy the electric feelings, the 'ah -ha' moments, did I mention the food,  and the motivational lectures are all part of what makes this retreat so very special and meaningful. What a tremendous privilege it was to have the opportunity to partake in this splendid unique event. At times, I was actually so moved, that I was shaken to my core. I left the 8th National Jewish Retreat wanting to be a better person, to feel better, to do better, and to grow more. It was not only unforgettable, but filled with exciting, fascinating and exhilarating lectures with dynamic deliveries. The interactive workshops from world-renowned experts will forever unlock ones inner, spiritual reservoirs of strength, passion and fulfillment. The fun, the new found lessons and awareness will be cherished and everlasting. I so look forward to next year's retreat and invite you all to attend... ... ... The rest is up to you!

I would like to take a moment to recognize, Rabbi Hesh Epstein for his excellence and class in running the entire retreat. He kept all the events, speeches, entertainment and lectures moving and treated everyone concerned with grace and respect in doing so. I extend major Kudos to Rabbi Epstein who is executive director of The Chabad of South Carolina; a Columbia-based Jewish education organization.


Lastly, I would like to thank Chabad's Rabbi, Shmuel Tiechtel, from the Arizona State University Campus, Rabbi Dubi Rabinowitz from The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and Mr. George Rohr for making this article possible.


Background on the Jewish Learning Institute and the Sinai Scholars Society.

The Sinai Scholars Society (a program of the Jewish Learning Institute) combines the study of classic Jewish texts, social programming, and national networking prospects to present a fresh and exciting framework for Jewish life and learning on the university campus. Sinai Scholars welcome students to engage in an open community of study and self-discovery that will help them to become passionate, well-versed Jewish leaders on campus and in their individual communities.

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The 3 pillars of Sinai Scholars Society:

1. DISCOVER your rich heritage.

2. CONNECT with other Jewish students on campus.

3. Become an EMPOWERED Jewish leader.

Since its inception, Sinai Scholars has been changing the face of Jewish student leadership. Fellowship in the Society is for life. Even after students leave campus, Sinai Scholars continues to empower its fellows with the knowledge, skills, and rich opportunities to help them become powerful Jewish leaders.

image044  The mission of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is to inspire Jewish learning worldwide and to transform Jewish life and the greater community through Torah study. The goal is to create a global network of informed students connected by bonds of shared Jewish experience. As the pre-eminent provider of adult Jewish education, JLI aspires to continue to set new standards in the field. It is a learning organization that listens and responds to their affiliates and students enabling them to grow in new ways. The holistic approach to Jewish study considers the impact of Jewish values on personal and interpersonal growth. Drawing on research-based instructional design and cutting-edge approaches to adult learning, JLI's innovative presentation of traditional Judaism is designed to be both intellectually rigorous and highly accessible.

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