National Jewish Retreat Welcomes 1,200 to Desert Springs, CA

Over a thousand Jews of all backgrounds arrive at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Desert Springs, California, for six days and six signature events of Jewish inspiration, community, and connection.

The tarmac outside the luxurious JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Desert Springs, California, bustled today as over a thousand Jews of all backgrounds began to arrive for JLI’s National Jewish Retreat. Since kicking off this afternoon, the National Jewish Retreat will immerse participants in six deluxe days of Jewish study, discovery, purpose, connection, and community and expose them to many of the Jewish world’s top thought leaders, authors, mentors, and artists. 

In the days ahead, six signature mega events will tug the heartstrings, fascinate the mind, and inspire retreat-goers’ souls. On Tuesday night, in Social Networking, participants will join small groups to hear fascinating stories, rich life experiences, and Jewish journeys from their fellow retreat-goers and form lasting connections and friendships.

Wednesday’s major event will see a sitting federal Judge, The Honorable Nancy Miller, preside over a moot trial judging the events at Masada. Who was responsible for the deaths that day, and was it Heroic or Horrific? With the participation of trial attorneys and expert witnesses Rabbi Avraham Zajac and historian Dr. Henry Abramson, participants will join the jury and vote on this landmark case.

Also on Wednesday, a special late-night show, Beyond the Pulpit, highlights the unexpected side hustles of Chabad rabbis and rebbetzins. This live panel tells the stories of shluchim and shluchos with penchants for whiskey brewing, winemaking, violin-playing, songwriting, pop art, biltong curing, and fashion design, giving retreat-goers a behind-the-scenes look at the untold ways these individuals share their passion for Yiddishkeit, Torah and Chassidus. . 

Thursday afternoon will see Rabbi Pinchas Allouche and Rabbi Y.Y. Schochet go head to head in Sfashkenaz, unpacking the diversity of the Jewish heritage, exploring and debating the rich history and traditions of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewry in Eastern Europe and North Africa. Later, celebrated singer Benny Friedman will perform live in concert, blending music, storytelling, and inspiration to get the crowd dancing and their souls singing along.

Ahead of Shabbos, the signature events wrap up with a session with blind football player Jake Olsen entitled Seeing Your Blessings and a special event of pre-shabbos song and storytelling with father and son duo Rabbi Manis and Benny Friedman.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented level of participation and enthusiasm,” says retreat chairman Rabbi Hesh Epstein, “and we’re very excited to see the ongoing learning, growth, and connection as the retreat progresses in the days ahead.” 

View the complete retreat program here:

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