Come join us on retreat for Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai as well as the first fruits of the growing season.

To celebrate, we'll be traveling up our nearby mountain range to Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, where we’ll gather with other seekers for an incredible opportunity to connect with powerful teachings, beautiful music, stupendous natural surroundings and each other.

We're also particularly excited to welcome scholars-in-residence, Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, co-founders of The Gefilteria, a new kind of food venture launched in 2012 with the mission of reimagining eastern European Jewish cuisine and adapting classic dishes to the values and tastes of a new generation.

What revelation awaits you this year? What are the emotional, intellectual and spiritual “first fruits” that you want to uplift and be thankful for? Join us, and open yourself to transformation!

Highlights include:

  • Incredible teachers (see below!)

  • Daily opportunities for spiritual practice

  • Robust Children’s Program

  • Amazing hiking and more

Financial aid is available, to apply please email BHA Administrator, Faith Adams at

Our Faculty

Liz Alpern & Jeffrey Yoskowitz are the co-founders of The Gefilteria and co-authors of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, a National Jewish Book Award finalist in 2016. Both Liz and Jeffrey are leaders in the Jewish Food Renaissance and have been featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for food and wine and named to the Forward 50. Liz's career in food is driven by her passion for bringing people together. Based in Brooklyn, Liz travels around the globe as a cook, recipe tester, educator and entrepreneur. Alpern holds an MBA from Baruch College and is a faculty member in the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program at the International Culinary Center in NYC. Jeffrey fell in love with the art of lacto-fermentation while training as a farmer and a pickler at Adamah farm. He has since worked in the food world as an entrepreneur, consultant, cook, educator and writer. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Tablet, among other publications. 


Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, a Founding Builder at Bayit: Your Jewish Home and a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, was named in 2016 by the Forward as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis. She holds dual ordination from ALEPH as rabbi and mashpi’ah (spiritual director). Since 2011 Rachel has served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel (North Adams, MA). She also served as past co-chair of ALEPH and interim Jewish chaplain to Williams College.  She holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is author of five volumes of poetry, among them 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011), Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016) and Texts to the Holy (Ben Yehuda 2018). Since 2003 she has blogged as The Velveteen Rabbi, and in 2008 TIME named her blog one of the top 25 sites on the internet. She has taught at the Academy for Spiritual Formation, the National Havurah Institute, the ALEPH Kallah, many congregations around New York and New England, and Beyond Walls, a writing program for clergy of many faiths at the Kenyon Institute. Her downloadable Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach has been used around the world.


 Rabbi Shoshana Leis serves as Director of Youth and Family Education at Romemu in New York City.  She recently served for seven years as co-rabbi (with her husband, Rabbi Ben Newman) at Har Shalom Center for Jewish Living in Ft. Collins, CO.  A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Dartmouth College, she also studied at St. Petersburg University, the Conservative Yeshiva, and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Studies. She served as Rabbi and Educational Director at Congregation Tehillah in New York City, where she developed “Shira Hadasha,” an intergenerational initiative for which she received the Legacy Heritage Innovator Award.


Rabbi David Markus, a Founding Builder at Bayit: Your Jewish Home and fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, is co-rabbi of Temple Beth El of City Island (New York, NY).  He is immediate Past Chair of ALEPH, and continues to serves as ALEPH permanent faculty in spiritual direction and adjunct faculty in rabbinics.  Rabbi David has taught for Yeshivat Maharat (Orthodox) and the National Havurah Committee (trans-denominational), and congregations throughout North America. He is a syndicated blogger for My Jewish Learning, The Wisdom Daily and The Jewish Studio; his works on Jewish spirituality have appeared in numerous academic and liturgical books. By day, he serves as judicial referee in New York Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District, which makes Rabbi David the only North American pulpit rabbi also to hold a full-time oath of office.  He earned double ordination as rabbi and mashpia (spiritual director) from ALEPH; a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School; a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he earned the global "innovator in public service" designation and the Wilmers Fellowship for State and Local Government; and a B.A. from Williams College.  He lives in Westchester County, NY.


Rabbi Ben Newman is the founder and spiritual leader of Shtiebel. He served for 7 years as the rabbi of Congregation Har Shalom in Fort Collins, CO, along with his wife Rabbi Shoshana Leis. Rabbi Ben received a B.A. from Skidmore College in Religion and Culture, an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and rabbinical ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York. He previously served as the Associate Rabbi for JRF Congregation M’vakshe Derekh in Scarsdale, New York. Rabbi Ben is the author of a series of children's' books called The Enchanted Sukkah about a time travelling sukkah. In addition to being a writer and a rabbi, Ben is a singer-songwriter who delights in chanting, playing guitar, and using an Indian instrument called a shruti box. He also enjoys reading Jewish literature of all types, as well as science fiction (his favorite author is Philip K Dick), philosophy and beat poetry. Rabbi Ben lives by the shores of the Hudson River in Dobbs Ferry, NY and his greatest joy is being father to his daughter and his son.


Rabbi Bradley Solmsen serves as the executive director of Surprise Lake Camp based in Cold Spring, New York. Surprise Lake is one of the oldest Jewish residential camps and is known for its breathtaking grounds as well as its strong sense of community and inclusiveness. Prior to joining the SLC team, Bradley served as the director of youth engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism and served as the director of Brandeis University's Office of High School Programs. Rabbi Solmsen was ordained at The Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and received a masters degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Bradley has held fellowships from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Brandeis University and currently is a Schusterman Senior Fellow. He has extensive experience working with youth, training staff and overseeing camp, travel and residential programs in Israel and North America. Bradley is married to Aliza Kline and is the proud abba of Ela, Gila and Nomi.


Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch and by Newsweek as "a rabbi to watch." He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation.  Before coming to Beacon Hebrew Alliance, he served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York.  Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a masters in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. A selection of Brent's teachings are available here.  He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children, Noa and Abraham.


May 18th, 2018 5:00 PM   through   May 20th, 2018 3:00 PM
Surprise Lake Camp
382 Lake Surprise Road,
Cold Spring, NY 10512
United States
Adults in Shared Winter Lodges $ 250.00
Adults in Private Camper Cabins $ 225.00
Children (6-16 years old) $ 150.00
Children five and under: FREE $ 0.00
Adult Commuter Rate (meals, no lodging) $ 125.00
Child Commuter Rate (6-16 years old, meals, no lodging) $ 75.00

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