CBST Congregational Retreat

The CBST Annual Retreat brought our community together for three days of learning and playing, glorious music, beautiful weather, and a chance to simply be together and build relationships.

We’re so grateful for everyone bringing so much thoughtfulness and love into the space. We can’t wait to see you again in 2025!

View Harold Levine’s full Retreat 2024 photo album

View Harold Levine’s Retreat 2024 videos

View Harold Levine Retreat 2024 photo highlights on Facebook

Registration for the CBST 2024 Congregational Retreat is closed. The information listed below is for retreat registrants. If you were unable to attend this year, we look forward to seeing you next year!

Dear 2024 / 5784 CBST Retreat-goers,

The Retreat is almost here! We are looking forward to spending Shabbat in the country, surrounded by nature, good friends—old and new—and wonderful learning, praying, and singing together. We have reached an inflection point in CBST’S 51 year history, we are choosing to celebrate with our theme this year; Looking forward and looking back together! 

Included below are the following: 

COVID-19 Policy

  1. Masks are optional. By attending the retreat, you agree to be respectful of others’ choices with regards to mask usage. 

  2. All adults and children six months and older are required to be fully vaccinated according to current CDC guidelines. All but the youngest age group are required to have a bivalent booster dose. View the most up-to-date vaccine guidelines. Please consult with your health care provider for more individualized recommendations. By attending the retreat, you are attesting that you are fully vaccinated, as eligible.

  3. Infected or exposed? If you have COVID-like symptoms or are within five days of a new infection and/or a positive COVID test, please DO NOT attend the retreat. Similarly, if you have been exposed and are asymptomatic, wear a mask until 10 days from the exposure. A test at 5-7 days from diagnosis or exposure is recommended.

Rooming Assignments and Arrival

Rooming assignments will be provided upon arrival at check-in, in the main building, (next to the stage), where you will pick up your name tag and schedule for the weekend. Check in begins on arrival, and you will be able to partake in a Get out the Vote postcard writing; you will be provided with 10 pre-stamped postcards to help register voters in crucial swing states. You can participate in creating photo memories, make besamim pouches for Havdalah, or take a walk and explore the farm! Candle lighting for Shabbat will begin at 5:15pm. 

When to Arrive

To avoid traffic and ensure arriving on time, we strongly encourage you to leave New York City at the latest by 2pm. If you leave after 2pm, plan on heavy traffic and know that you may miss some of our opening programs. It makes for a much more serene entry into this weekend if you are able to leave earlier! 

  • Onsite Registration at Isabella Freedman opens on Friday, May 3 at 3:00pm.
  • Rooms will not be available prior to 3:00pm.
  • Shabbat programming begins at 5:15pm. 


Please see the attached PDF or click here for the schedule of programming and services! Note that some items are subject to change.

How to Get There  

View a map of the retreat center and more info about the facilities. See below for info on how to get there. 

By Car: 

Address: 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031 (GoogleMaps directions are reliable).  

By Train:  

Metro North from Grand Central Station to Wassaic (Harlem Line). You may have to transfer trains at Southeast, in a coordinated transfer directly across the platform. Check train schedules on the Metro North website.

  • Shuttle bus pick-up on Friday for those who already registered and paid for a van pick-up: Take the 1:44pm train out of Grand Central (you may have to transfer at Southeast station), arriving at 4:08pm at Wassaic Station. The Shuttle bus to the retreat center will arrive at Wassaic at 4:30pm.

  • Shuttle bus return on Sunday for those who already registered and paid for a van pick-up: Shuttle bus will leave Isabella Freedman at 1:15pm on Sunday to connect with a train leaving Wassaic Station at 2:15pm (you may have to transfer at Southeast station), arriving at Grand Central at 4:43pm.
Please note, there are only enough seats on each shuttle for the exact number of registrants for each shuttle time. If you are not registered for the shuttle, but need a ride from/to the train, see below.

Taxi from/to Train: We recommend you book taxis well in advance. Here are some options: 

Packing List

Provided Items

All accommodations include linens, blankets, towels, hand soap, and all rooms are heated. Other items provided include alarm clocks, yoga mats, blankets and blocks, yoga zafu meditation pillows and backjacks. Extra blankets and towels available upon request.

What to Bring

Check the weather to make sure you’re bringing the appropriate clothing. Be sure to bring rain coats, boots, and umbrellas!

  • NOTE: This is an area prone to ticks, so long sleeves, pants tucked into high socks, and insect repellant of your choice are recommended at all times. Showers and full-body tick checks should be performed every evening. Please refer to the CDC Tick Guideline for instructions

  • Warm jacket, rain gear (raincoat, umbrellas). It can be chilly at night and in the morning so bring layers for chilly and rainy weather just in case. 

  • Good shoes for hiking, playing kickball, walking on gravel/unpaved roads. 

  • A white shirt or top for Friday night—a custom to welcome Shabbat 

  • Drums for drumming circle on Friday night

  • Any clothes for mending projects (Aari Ludvigsen will be leading a “Visible Mending” workshop on Saturday Afternoon – sure to be loads of fun!)

  • Toiletries (over-the-counter and prescription medications, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, comb, brush, hair dryer)

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Flashlight

  • Your own yoga gear

  • Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for yoga and hiking/exercise and outdoor activities

  • Personal electronic devices and chargers

  • Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen)

  • Crafting accouterments—knitting needles, yarn, crochet hooks, embroidery, and more! 

  • Hand drums and musical instruments  

  • Board games and puzzles to share 

  • Softball and other sporting equipment 

  • Beverages (alcoholic and non) to share during the Shabbat afternoon kickball game and cocktail/mocktail hour (To be respectful of everyone in our community, alcohol will be kept on a separate table) 

  • Kippah, Tallit, and Tefilin (if you have) 

  • Kosher snacks to share (Note: Isabella Freedman requires a Hechsher [kosher symbol] on all foods, and no outside food of any kind may be brought into the dining hall) 

  • Bathing suit if you plan to swim or boat in the lake (Please note: everyone is required to wear a lifejacket on dock or in water, regardless of age). 

Retreat Chorus!

Have you ever wanted to be part of CBST’s chorus? Now’s the time—ALL ages welcome! There will be 3 rehearsals on the retreat and a performance Saturday evening. Email to learn more and sign up.

Back by Popular Demand for 2024! Poker Tournament!

Naomi Blakeman and Shelli Aderman will be hosting a 50-50 split Poker Tournament Motzei Shabbat, beginning post-Havdalah, approximately at 10:15pm, Saturday night! 

What is this you ask? If you wish to play, there is a $20 buy-in for chips, and we’ll play basic Texas Hold’em. There will be a maximum of 10 people per table. Naomi and Shelli will each be running one table and will add more if needed. A poker 101 refresher will be offered on Saturday afternoon. 

The top player from each table will get paid out half of the pot for that table and the remainder of the proceeds will go to CBST’s Retreat Scholarship Fund. The pot will be divided equally between YOU, and CBST’s Scholarship fund. Think you’re a Poker ace? Bring your A-Game and find out!

A note about cell phones and screens: With the combined relaxing nature of Shabbat and our camp location, we ask you to refrain from using any and all electronic devices in any of our public spaces over the weekend—especially on Shabbat. You are of course permitted to use electronic devices in your own rooms. We hope that you’ll take advantage of every moment to spend time with old and new friends, family, and yourself in the wonderful, once-a-year community space that we create together. Note: there is very little reception at Isabella Freedman. All rooms have WiFi. 

Questions? Contact, available until 5pm on Friday, May 3.

  • Contact number at Isabella Freedman: 860-824-5991

  • Vlastik from Isabella Freedman: 860-816-8976

  • Isabella Freedman after-hours emergency number: 860-672-8226 (posted in all rooms)

We’re so excited to see you this weekend! 


Rabbi Yael Werber and CBST Retreat Committee Chairs Shelli Aderman, Naomi Blakeman, Gerry Goldhaber, and Hanna Kessler-Karp

Save the date!

This year’s retreat is confirmed for Friday, May 3 – Sunday, May 5, 2024 at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, 116 Johnson Rd, Falls Village, CT 06031. Stay tuned for more info. You must be a member to attend the retreat. Learn more about membership »

Last Year’s Retreat

Thank you to everyone who attended last year’s retreat! CBST’s annual retreat brought together 100 community members for three days of intergenerational prayer, discussion, singing, shmoozing, and joy. Read more and see photos »

For CBST’s 50th year our retreat theme was multigenerational community! We highlighted the beauty of our community that spans many generations. Groups and individuals of all ages and generations (Silent Generation, Gen X, Gen Z, Boomers, Millennials—everyone!) attended to make this retreat a true high point of the year.

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