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Women's Retreat Reflections

The women's retreat has been a beautiful part of Emanuel Congregation for over 20 years. The initial idea was to learn together how to juggle the demands of life as a Jewish woman as well as to develop a conscience and a memory of the Jewish women who have come before us. We all wanted to be more observant and knowledgeable about the Torah, but our modern-day place in this ancient timeline was unclear. Plus, we just knew that we loved one another's company!

The idea of a women's retreat was pitched to the sisterhood by Mareon Arnold who was a temple member and was our administrator for many years. She had just returned from a trip to Europe and visited many famous churches and heard about the men who shared ideas together to keep their faith alive. Mareon thought, “what's stopping us from doing the same?”

At the time, many of us had small children. We wanted to be part of it, but there was some dissent among the members that we would not have the time or the quiet to study and pray. So we ended up hiring baby sitters from Oconomowoc to watch the children during times of study. We brought cars full of toys and art projects and even tricycles! We hired a facilitator to guide us through Jewish understanding of the Torah and the biblical stories of women that we wished to emulate. We discovered the beauty of hearing only women's voices as we sang, and it filled our souls. There were always practical discussions as well about observing the Sabbath, Havdalah, holidays; we couldn't ask questions fast enough!!

Over the years we realized that we each had enough knowledge to share and a commitment to explore and research, so we began to facilitate our own retreat.

The sky is the limit! We now know that this respite together fills us full of contemplation and joy. It is a marvelous way for women to meet one another and to become part of the remarkable community that we now enjoy at Emanuel. Several of the women found Judaism for the very first time. Some have become leaders in Hebrew and lay leaders in the Temple. We even encouraged one to become a Rabbi!

Please come to this year’s Women’s Retreat and try it out. There is something for everyone and there is never pressure to attend each and every session. It's your weekend and we'd love to see you there!

-Ruthie Seidner Musical Director

To get more information and register for the 2020 Women’s Retreat, visit

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