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Pacific Northwest Retreat

Pacific Northwest Shabbaton May 5-7
M’Yad L’Yad: From Hand to Hand — The Chain of Our Tradition

Location: Camp Solomon Schechter near Olympia, WA

How does Judaism get passed on within communities, from person to person and from one generation to the next?

During this Shabbaton we’ll explore some of these enduring issues of transmission:

  • Who can teach, how do we learn, what is received and why?
  • When are changes needed to nourish Jewish life?

As we celebrate Shabbat in a beautiful PNW setting, we will look at the challenges we face now, with a focus on inclusivity and hopes for the future, informed by traditional wisdom and a Reconstructionist lens.


Programming will provide engagement choices for everyone. All ages will share Erev Shabbat service together, there will be programming especially for children and youth, and “menucha” (restorative time after lunch on Shabbat) will offer families a daily opportunity to reunite and rest. 

  • For children and youth (ages 5 to 12): In age appropriate ways, children will explore expressions of Jewish identity and be engaged in the Shabbaton themes. 
  • For infants to age 4: Childcare will be provided by pre-registration.

Youth Program Schedule

Parallel to the adult program and happening simultaneously, we are offering the following youth programming around the theme of M’Yad L’Yad and
Appreciating the Outdoors and Nature.

Friday May 5th 8:30 p.m. Ice Breakers
Saturday May 6th 9:30 a.m. Family Service
    11:00 a.m. Youth Torah Study activity
    12:30 p.m. Art and Nature Program
    3:30 p.m. Scavenger Hunt/Outdoor Program
    4:45 p.m. Chug
Sunday May 7th 9:00 a.m. Concluding Program



We are very lucky to have two inspiring faculty from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College as our scholars in residence.

Elsie Stern, Ph.D. will be leading study throughout the weekend. The following is a overview:

God, Torah and Israel have been the three "anchors" of Judaism from Biblical times to the present. However, our beliefs about them have changed significantly over time and space. Join Elsie Stern, RRC's Associate Professor of Bible and Vice President for Academic Affairs to explore how our current ideas about God, Torah and Israel have changed over time and how they might continue to change in decades to come.

Joel Hecker, Ph.D. will also be leading study throughout the weekend. The following is an overview:

Far from an intellectual hinterland, the medieval period was one of Judaism's high points of intellectual and theological creativity, and Kabbalah was one of its most salient new phenomena. In our learning this weekend, Joel Hecker, one of North America's top kabbalah scholars and Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the RRC, will take us on a journey into the strange new conceptions of God, Torah, and Mitsvot as represented in Kabbalah. For close to 600 years, Kabbalah stood as a nearly "official" theology among the Jewish elite, partly because of its ability to represent itself as continuous with Jewish tradition, rather than as a break from it.


Registration fees include 5 meals and snacks, a very full program of activities and lodging in a cabin if you stay at Camp.

Registration Type   Cost
Shabbaton Registration without lodging   $125
Adult (single)   $175
Couple   $350
Youth   $135
Child   $110
Family   $475

Housing at camp will be in cabins with bathrooms and showers that accommodate up to 14 people.

  • A family unit is up to 2 adults and up to 3 children or youth
  • If you have a group of at least 6 people, we will give you priority for a private cabin
  • If there are people you would like to share a cabin with, please indicate that on the registration form

If you would prefer to stay offsite, we have reserved a block of rooms as "PNW Shabbaton" at the Tumwater Best Western, 5188 Capital Blvd S, Tumwater WA 98501. Phone 360.956.1235 at a cost of $99 per night.

We can also arrange home hospitality in the Olympia area.

Please consider making a donation to defray the costs of those who cannot afford to attend. There is a place on the registration form to make an additional donation.

Please fill out the following form to let us know you plan to attend.
Register now
If you have financial challenges and are interested in a scholarship, please indicate what you are able to pay on the registration and we will do what we can to defray the costs. All requests for assistance will be kept confidential.

Questions? Contact Jackie Land at

Leader Bios

Elsie SternElsie Stern, Ph.D., is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where she has served on the faculty since 2007. At RRC, Dr. Stern teaches courses in Bible and early Judaism. Her teaching and scholarship focus on the ways Torah has been transmitted and received throughout history. Dr. Stern received her bachelor’s degree at Yale University and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago. She is the author of From Rebuke to Consolation: Bible, Exegesis and Ritual in the Literature of the Tisha b’Av Season (Brown Judaic Series, 2004) and is a contributor to the Jewish Study Bible and the Women’s Torah Commentary (Women of Reform Judaism, 2008).

Joel Hecker, Ph.D.Joel Hecker, Ph.D., is Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is the author of Vols. 11-12 of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, the first complete and annotated scholarly translation of the Zohar, which is the central and canonical text of Kabbalah. He is also the author of Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah, as well as a host of publications dealing with Jewish mysticism, gender, and ritual.

Rabbi Maurice HarrisRabbi Maurice Harris, RRC ’03, served as Associate Rabbi and Head of School at Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Oregon, from 2003 – 2011. He also worked as a Judaic studies faculty member at the University of Oregon, teaching courses such as “Israelis and Palestinians” and “American Jewish Cultures.” Prior to joining the staff at RRC, Maurice worked as the Rabbi/Senior Educator at InterfaithFamily, a Boston-based national Jewish non-profit that provides resources and advocacy for interfaith families in the Jewish community.
Maurice is now the Assistant Director of Affiliate Support at RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities. He is married to Melissa Crabbe, and they have two children, Clarice Harris and Hunter Harris.

Catherine CarmelCatherine Carmel is the Director of Family Life and Learning at Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, WA. Her interest in interfaith cooperation and social justice have led her to become a board member for Interfaith Works, where she directs the summer camp, Interfaith Explorations. She is also on the board of RENA, where she coordinates professional development and support for Reconstructionist education directors. Catherine is married to Rob, a retired Army Sergeant Major. Together they share a love for their four daughters, one granddaughter and the great outdoors. They live on a small family farm outside of Olympia.

Rabbi Seth Goldstein, RRC '03, is both committed to creating vibrant Jewish community and using a spiritual voice to speak to issues of social justice and common concern.

He serves as the rabbi of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, WA, where he has served since 2003.  He was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and also holds an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington. As of March, 2017 he serves as President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.

He has completed the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow and a Brickner Rabbinic Fellow through the Religious Action Center. He was recently named as one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by the Forward.

Rabbi Goldstein is the author of numerous published articles, essays and liturgy. He writes regularly on his blog, Rabbi 360 and produces both a weekly podcast, Torah tl;dr, and a webseries, Carpooling with Rabbi.

He is deeply engaged in local community affairs and active in Interfaith Works of Thurston County and the Faith Action Network, a statewide advocacy organization. He has testified in front of the Washington State Legislature on numerous occasions.

Rabbi Goldstein lives in Olympia with his wife, Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, two sons, Ozi and Erez. He likes getting outdoors as much as he can, and is still intent on learning the guitar one day.

We will also be joined by Beth Hamon and Joan Bayliss, as well as Rabbis David Basior, Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein and others.

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