Remembering the 2016 Kallah
Friday night with Nava Tehila.
The 2016 ALEPH Kallah was a smashing success. Some 500 participants joined us in Fort Collins, Colorado, for a week-long “Hilulah!” -- a celebration of the joys of Jewishing. Participants came from across the United States and Canada, Europe, Brazil, Israel, and Australia. Nearly 40% of participants were first-time Kallah attendees.
Classes and workshops
Students discussing material.
Photo by Mackenzie Scott.
At the 2016 Kallah we offered a wide range of four-day classes on subjects ranging from storytelling to Zohar, ecstatic practice to non-dual Judaism, midrash to dreams and oracles, expressive arts to contemplative practice. We also offered a wide range of one-day workshops, on subjects ranging from taharah (preparing the bodies of the deceased for burial), chant, the nachas (pleasures) of grandparenting, demonology, drumming, and more.
Kids’ and teen programming
Working on the Kids’ Camp Kallah wishing wall.
Photo by Rachel Barenblat.
This year’s Kids’ Camp Kallah was crafted and run by Brooke Fisher, director of education at Har Shalom synagogue in Fort Collins. Kids’ Camp Kallah featured environmental learning, field trips to an organic farm and to a nearby reservoir for swimming, a variety of arts and crafts projects, an outdoor movie night, and sparkly white facepaint before Shabbat.
This year’s Teen Kallah was presented by Wilderness Torah. Led by Wilderness Torah mentors and guided by their core philosophies of earth-based Judaism and nature connection, teens were guided into the wilderness on an exciting, connective four-day backpacking adventure. Teens learned wild plant Rocky Mountain ethnobotany and wilderness travel skills, and had Jewish experiences that attuned them to nature's cycles.
Daily spiritual experiences
Thursday morning Torah reading.
Photo by Janice Rubin.
Every day featured at least three opportunities for spiritual practice (morning, afternoon, and evening). A curated group of participants (organized by Rabbi / Cantor Mark Novak) offered “jogging minyanim,” neo-Hasidic davenen, yoga and movement-based spiritual practice, musical services, chant-based services, healing services, traditional davenen set to folk melodies, and more.
The red heifer ritual created by Rabbi Shefa Gold.
Photo collage by Tamy Jacobs.
Evening activities included a red heifer ritual facilitated by Rabbi Shefa Gold; a SoulSpark concert featuring Jessi Roemer, Mikey Pauker, and Shir Yaakov; a discussion of Transformative Judaism featuring Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Rabbi Jill Hammer; and many more events besides. The campus of CSU also became home to roving musicians who set up shop with guitar, mandolin, and hand drums for impromptu singalongs.
Beneath the wings of Shekhinah.
Photo by Ellen Allard.
On Friday night the entire Kallah community came together for an extraordinary Kabbalat Shabbat led by Nava Tehila, the Jewish Renewal community of Jerusalem. Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan, Yoel Sykes, and Dafna Rosenberg collaborated with a circle of musicians and singers to craft a service that brought the special glow of Jerusalem Shabbat into our midst. After davenen that shifted seamlessly from rollicking to contemplative, we moved to a communal banquet, followed by a variety of late-night storytelling and singing opportunities.
Shabbat morning brought five different davenen opportunities in five different styles. On Shabbat afternoon a variety of workshops (on subjects ranging from tikkun olam and equanimity to Jewish Qi Gong) enabled Kallah participants to go deeper into their experience of the day.
L’hitraot -- until we meet again
The 2016 Kallah culminated with a celebratory Saturday evening. Our closing program featured all three Kallah choirs, a musical and visual art offering for the hour of se’udah shlishit (the “third meal” of Shabbat) created by Rabbi Hannah Dresner of Or Shalom, ma’ariv (evening services) led by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael and Rabbi Shawn Zevit and friends, and a havdalah that consecrated the end of our time together and offered a gentle bridge from Kallah into our lives to follow.