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A Special Treat: The BJ Early Childhood Retreat

I feel fairly confident in speaking for most parents of young children when I say this: There’s no better gift than an entire weekend of engaging programming for our children, meals and cleanup taken care of, and the bonus of connecting with other parents. On a recent May weekend, that’s what the BJ Early Childhood retreat at Ramah Nyack was for the 20 families that joined.

For me, it was my first retreat with BJ as well as my first as Director of Communications. Being there with my daughter and forming relationships with parents of children in the community was extremely rewarding, and seeing my colleagues’ work firsthand was a fantastic perk of the weekend, underscoring my pride in working at BJ.

The weekend was packed with activities and spiritual experiences for both children and adults. Amazing storyteller Bill Gordh (who has been working with our community for more than 10 years) not only engaged our children through song and stories but also held a powerful workshop for parents that left most of us in tears. (He wrote it for his wife who passed away; you too can hear it here.) The incredible prayer team of Shira Averbuch, Dan Nadel, and Rabbi Becca Weintraub led our children in Shabbat services, providing meaningful and fun tefillah for everyone. And Main Stages, a child-focused performance group that puts on interactive and educational shows, was a highlight for both children and adults.

In almost any other context, I’d complain about how much it rained. But the very-popular bounce house solved the too-much-energy problem and kept our kids busy (our Family Life & Learning team always has a backup plan)!

The retreat was a true Shabbat experience that most of us haven’t had in quite some time. Some of us hadn’t had this type of experience since our own camp or youth group retreats, and certainly none of us had done anything like it in the last two years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m thrilled to report that it was worth the wait!

See you at the next one; I’ll definitely be there.

Written By Max W. Orenstein

Max comes to BJ after nearly a decade working in the non-profit and political space, having served as creative director for the Clinton Foundation and New York State Governor's Office. Specializing...

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