Committed to Connecting and Learning Together

The Rubin Text Talks is a new one year program that offers the opportunity to deepen Jewish knowledge through text study and engaging discussions led by Jewish scholars, and to explore and strengthen our personal leadership style. Each session covers a different theme pertinent to being Jewish. It’s a commitment comprised of eight two-hour sessions and one family-friendly retreat.

My husband and I both felt so fortunate to be able to participate in the inaugural Shabbaton retreat. It was truly magical spending Shabbat with my fellow participants and their families, connecting and learning together. Our Rubin Text Talk cohort is a warm, friendly and inclusive group of inquisitive and engaging people, and this was made even clearer during the retreat.

The theme for our retreat was “The Mystical Part of Judaism” and we were fortunate to have Rabbi Dorothy Richmond, who serves as the rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center and teaches Torah widely throughout the Bay Area and beyond, as our scholar in residence. Rabbi Richmond, with her soulful voice, led us beautifully in singing, chanting and meditation. She also facilitated many engaging discussions on the concepts of what makes a Jewish leader, as well as what is Shabbat and prayer and what are their relationships to our hearts and souls.

Celebrate Shabbat as it is meant to be – to disconnect…

The recent retreat afforded us the amazing opportunity to spend Shabbat together at the beautiful coastal resort Costanoa. It was a special Shabbat, filled with community, connection, warmth and learning. It’s hard to pin point what made it so special, but I think that it was a variety of things that all worked together synergistically. For starters, the retreat enabled us to celebrate Shabbat as it is meant to be – to disconnect from technology and a long list of to dos and responsibilities and to slow down and be present with each other and ourselves. It was refreshing and wonderful to be able to relax and lean into the weekend and to have the time to fully commit to connecting and learning together.

My family and I enjoy celebrating Shabbat with other families or just with the four of us when we can, but too often we let ourselves get swept away by the momentum of our busy lives. The retreat reminded me of the peaceful and restorative nature of Shabbat and reaffirmed my interest in celebrating it more. Although we are tired by the end of the work/school week and there are always hurdles to overcome to preserve our Friday evenings, I find it well worth it when we do, and even more so, when we celebrate with friends and families. In order to celebrate Shabbat more often, I have to remind myself not to wait for the perfect moment; it is better to have a simpler yet lovely dinner in a lived-in home and actually do it, than to wait for the time to have a fancier dinner in a cleaner, decluttered home, at which point it may never happen. Another idea that was broached at the retreat to help make celebrating Shabbat easier with other families is to celebrate the end of Shabbat with a dinner Saturday night and Havdalah rather than the beginning of Shabbat Friday evening after a busy day and week. This would provide families more time to regroup, plan and celebrate.

The retreat also provided opportunities for us to make deeper and more meaningful connections.

During the course of the weekend, we interacted with our fellow Rubin Text Talk participants more deeply and meaningfully than during our typical shorter monthly study sessions. Being immersed together for 24 plus hours, including schmoozing, sharing meals together, learning and downtime, along with the inclusion of spouses and children created an even warmer and more inviting environment to socialize and study together. We also got to see each other within a new and larger context. All of this helped to lay the foundation for creating stronger bonds, which hopefully we will continue to foster during our future study sessions and beyond.

We read different texts describing Shabbat and discussed how the language used to describe Shabbat in the Torah was atypical for the times and a little vague, which resulted in some of the richness of the language to be lost in translation and thereby some of its interpretation. For example, in the writings about Shabbat in Exodus 31:17, it states that “G-d ceased from work and was “refreshed” [vayinafash], but vayinafash refers to more than being refreshed; it refers to the soul. I find that thinking of Shabbat in the terms of being soul-ed in addition to or rather than refreshed is that much more meaningful. Additionally, Rabbi Richmond shared with us the concept that our souls are always pure, which for some reason I found to be very powerful and I hope to always keep it in mind.

As a fellow participant, Tavi Alcheck said, “I believe we all left closer to each other and eager for our next meeting.”

Retreat attendees on a hike
Categories: Leadership


March 05, 2019


Cindy Krieger