September 23, 2017

ReJewvenation 2017

This is the Thirteenth year of ReJewvenation, a Jewish women's retreat at B'nai Brith Camp near Lincoln City.  I've been meaning to attend for several years, but this year I finally did it! I chose an auspicious year to attend... in addition to the usual fun activities, the women running this event chose to celebrate this year's milestone with a Bat Mitzvah theme, including the opportunity for attendees to actually become Bat Mitzvah. This was truly brilliant!

I was very impressed with the whole weekend. There were so many options for people to participate in, or not do anything at all, and the attention to detail was really remarkable. Also, unlike any camp food I've ever experienced, the meals were fabulous, and the snacks were beautiful and overwhelming.

Friday afternoon, people arrived, checked in, and found their lodging assignments. Through some much-appreciate pulling-of-strings, I was assigned to the famous LindaSingerCabin. This is where it is tolerated for people to come dragging in at 1:00 am after a long night of Mah Jongg. But also... very close to the dining hall and main activity center!

Once you've checked in, received goodies, and unpacked, you find your way to the Merkaz (center), where the drinks are already flowing, and there is a lot of FOOD. 

The happiness in the air is palpable. ReJewv veterans are happily greeting old friends, while newbies are relieved to find each other.
In one area, women are learning to tie Tzitzit for Tallit.  

There is a lot of pink decor, representing the very strong support for the fight against cancer, and also... there is chocolate everywhere!

At some point, there is a "Shabbat Walk" outside, wherein 80 women snake  around a semicircle, greeting every single other person with hugs and Shabbat Shalom wishes. (This includes a fair number of non-Jewish attendees, who enjoy the moment as much as everyone else.) 

From there, we all enter the dining hall for Shabbat dinner. This was my first real surprise. A buffet dinner that wouldn't be out-of-place at a restaurant, with a lovely salad bar and plenty of options for all special diets. And kosher! 

Throughout dinner, people were winning prizes for.... umm.... I think just for fun. 
People also perused a large silent auction and raffle prizes that would end Saturday night. 

After dinner, we enjoyed playing Mah Jongg in the new 
Mah Jongg room. 

I now realize there were many other things going on in other areas, but we were just fine where we were! We didn't actually play too late, because everyone was determined to wake up in time for Shabbat morning services on Saturday. Does that sound strange? You bet it does!! But the reason was that several of our friends were becoming Bat Mitzvah during that service.  NO WAY we were missing that!

(In the cabin, people snored a lot. It seems we all decided not to bring our C-Pap machines.)

Saturday morning arrived, we grabbed a bite to eat and high-tailed it over to the outdoor chapel.  Friends, this event was even more touching than I knew it would be. 

Dorice Horenstein led the service.  She's knowledgable, and kept it short and sweet, but still had a lovely commentary on the Torah portion, and a sweet personal blessing for each pair of women who came up to the Torah to become Bat Mitzvah. 

She talked about her Tallit, and encouraged the worshippers to share some of the Tallitot that we made yesterday. 

My friends Julia, Dana, Ingrid, Amy, and Elisa became Bat Mitzvah, as well as my new friend Barbara.  Another woman read from the actual Torah scroll for her first time. 

This all gives me goosebumps. It's something I will remember for a long time.

After services, it was time for my first Chug (elective). I believe there were a lot of other things, like Yoga and kayaking, that were going on during the morning hours, and Chug groups had already happened, but you can't be everywhere at once! So for me, this was the first one.

I was asked to teach beadwork. But each Chug is only one hour long, so teaching was not really an option. I chose a beading 'activity' instead... making earrings. I brought a lot of beads, and a bunch of earring supplies, and tried to figure out how to make this work. 

 Quite a lot of people showed up for my class, so it was structured bedlam! But people always have a fun time with beads, so it was all good. I had them design their earrings, post the beads onto the metal pins, and leave them with me to complete. I had a second chug later in the day, so this ended up taking most of my day. 

I didn't get to participate in any other chug, which was frustrating, but I must say it was gratifying that all the women were so effusive in their gratitude to me. Also, they made some really cool earrings! 

This was my first time trying to do a one-hour beading activity, and I learned a lot from it. Next year, we'll do it differently.

The weather, by the way, was perfect on Friday and Saturday. People even played 
Mah Jongg by the pool!! Sorry I missed that, but I had my representatives there.

I missed most of the "Happy Hour" before dinner, but arrived in time for a few quick photos and a drink. Saturday night there is always a theme party and everyone dresses up for the theme. This year everyone was asked to wear what you would have worn to a Bat Mitzvah in the year you were 13.  Some people actually still had their Bat Mitzvah dress, or wore the dress their mom wore to their Bat Mitzvah... I found it fascinating. Some people just dressed for the appropriate era. Lynn and I decided that mini-skirts and go-go boots weren't gonna happen, so we just went with generic dresses. 

Dinner was a revelation: the whole thing was set up like a Bat Mitzvah banquet! It was gorgeous, and the food was banquet-quality. I was stunned. 


Also, people brought home-made cookies, for a most amazing dessert table. 

And then there was music from all different time periods... it was amazing. There was a moving pitch for contributions, Havdalah, the auction was completed, and the raffle grand-prize awarded. After-dinner dancing & fun festivities followed, but again some of us retreated to the Mah Jongg room.

Sunday morning some women did a walk for Race For A Cure.

There was one more Chug period, one last chance for yoga, acupuncture, personal massages, henna, and more. A fantastic breakfast, a friendship circle, and a little more Mah Jongg. 

Amid pouring rain, we all gradually packed up our cars, grabbed boxed lunches, and reluctantly made our way out of the camp, marking the dates in our calendars for ReJewvenation 2018.

A weekend retreat serves many different needs for various people. Some of us go away to relax, some for the fellowship and fun activities. For some, it's the only time of the year they will touch a paintbrush or a kayak.  

The younger women in particular, seemed so very happy to have a few days to themselves, without having to feed or dress or bathe anyone. It's truly rejuvenating for everyone. 

It was difficult for me to squeeze in this weekend, between Micah's wedding, my new classes, and the upcoming holidays, but I'm really glad I did! Next year it will be a priority.