Summer vacation time is coming. And you know what that means. Right – plenty of TV reruns. So it’s the perfect time to take that summer vacation retreat. First things first, though – what, exactly, is a retreat? Yes, it’s that thing the French army does during wars, but that’s not the kind of retreat I’m talking about here.
The retreats I’m talking about are the vacation variety and there as many kinds of those as there are squirrel-chasing dogs. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a vacation retreat for squirrel-chasing dogs. You can find retreats based on location, activity, interests, age, health, weight, singles/couples, lifestyle and religion.
I hear you asking: Are there specifically Jewish vacation retreats? You bet your blintz! Check this out:
“Isabella Freedman is a 400-acre sanctuary in the Berkshires where Jews of incredibly varied beliefs and backgrounds make pilgrimages and leave transformed in remarkably personal ways.”
“Situated on the Milldale campus nestled in the rolling farmlands of Reisterstown, Maryland, on a partially wooded knoll overlooking the pond, the Pearlstone Retreat Center has been conceived as a ‘rustic Jewish inn.’ It will accommodate the sleeping, eating, learning, praying, and playing needs of up to 160 people.”
“A summer vacation with Kosher Mountain Retreats is an experience like no other.” But what about the food, you ask? Not to worry! “The Kashrus is strictly Glatt Kosher, with Chassidishe Hashgochos. All milk & milk products are Cholov Yisroel & all baked goods are Pas Yisroel. The highest standards of Kashrus are maintained under the strict & expert Rabbinical supervision of Harav Moshe (H'Levi) Perlmutter Shlita, who will be on the premises throughout the entire stay. Alongside Rabbi Perlmutter, there will be a Mashgiach Temidi in the kitchen at all times.”
“But Mark, are there bad Jewish vacation retreats” you ask? Well, you’re in luck. As a public service, and because I’m a giver, I have done the extensive research. I now present to you, therefore, the:
Least-Popular Jewish Vacation Retreats:
Olam Ha-Ba Spiritual Retreat and Chicken Ranch (Turlock, California)
Discount pricing increases here, depending on how close your room is to the chickens, who can get pretty loud. But you’ll scarcely hear them once you’re involved in the Yiddish Yoga at Dawn workouts where you learn the language while attempting to work off the brisket weight you put on the previous night. Is it kosher? Best not to ask. Prior to the Mah Nishtanah Meditation seminar, you will be given your own personalized mantra. Mine was “Tzimmes,” which I liked at first, but then found a bit challenging to clear my mind while thinking about a sweet stew. Or maybe it was the clucking sounds in the background.
Baruch Blechman Jewish Dude Ranch Retreat (Otis, Colorado)
If you find the spiritual, meditative nature of many retreats dull, this “Action Retreat” is the place for you. Start your day with an invigorating ride across the simulated prairie on a horse with a Yiddish name like Heshy or Berel. At the rodeo, learn to rope bulls, apologize to them, set them free, and then feel guilty about it the rest of the day. So as to avoid animal cruelty charges, the bulls are given the opportunity to abuse their owners, Uncle Mort and Cousin Menachem. At night, around the campfire, enjoy kosher franks and beans while sharing your favorite Isaac Bashevis Singer stories. Have a problem with another retreat attendee? Reenact a shoot-out with him or her on Sandy Koufax Street. To add to the excitement, guns may or may not be loaded.
Shmuel & Lilah Feigenbaum’s Bashert Singles Jamboree Retreat (Wetumpka, Alabama)
Single? Separated? Divorced? Widowed? Between relationships? Head South, y’all, to the nation’s least-recommended Jewish singles vacation retreat. The same vacationers attend each year because they still have not been able to get a date during the rest of the year. But at least they’re trying. At the weekly Half-Bagel Hora-Thon, you’ll locate your dancing partner by trying to see if your torn-in-half bagel exactly fits his or hers. Popular seminars include, “What’s Wrong With Me?”, “Yiddish Secrets of Dating,” and “How to Cook for a Woman Without Making Her Sick.” Ask for the 20% Pity Discount for those who’ve never made it to a second date with anyone.
Holishkes Easy-Off Weight Loss Retreat & Doggie Day-Care Center (Gilby, North Dakota)
When Yitzhak and Shoshana Glotzman started their Holishkes Easy-Off Weight Loss Retreat & Doggie Day-Care Center, they had a clever idea. Rather than pay for an animal day-care staff of workers, they’d simply assign each overweight retreat guest to a dog. The dog and overweight guest would spend the day exercising together on long walks and runs. The Glotzmans saved additional money by only feeding the dogs; not the overweight guests. And for entertainment, the Glotzmans would arrange for their guests and dogs to create inter-species musicals such as “My Fair Collie,” which contained songs such as, “I Could Have Barked All Night,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Scent,” and “On the Street Where You Howl.”
Fishkin Judaic Chinese Food Retreat (Delawanna, New Jersey)
Where do Jews go during many Christian holidays, especially Christmas? To Chinese restaurants, of course. At the Fishkin Judaic Chinese Food Retreat, guests are taught to cook authentic Chinese foods – Jewish-style. After just two weeks, you’ll master the intricacies and semi-delicate flavors of Sweet & Sour Matzoh Balls, 5-Spice Pastrami, Szechuan Blintzes, and Kreplach Fried Rice. Since there are no accommodations, you’ll sleep out in the open, much like our Jewish ancestors, after signing a disclaimer relieving Morris and Estelle Fishkin of responsibility should you be robbed or mugged during the night. But don’t oversleep – you won’t want to miss the Peking Lox lesson in the morning!