We offer weekend workshops, weekly class series, and stand-alone programs and lectures that inspire full-hearted living. Most of our programs take place at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation – our light-filled, solar-paneled building located on 34 acres of woods, fields, and ponds near the arts colony of Woodstock, New York. We also can bring our programs “on the road” to your locale. We provide meals during our weekend workshops. Lodging is available at numerous bed and breakfasts, cottages, motels, and hotels in our beautiful region of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. We have included a comprehensive guide to assist you in finding lodging.
LSI courses are designed to fit in with the cycle of the Jewish year. The Jewish calendar maps not only the seasons but also charts with great wisdom the touchstones of human growth and aspiration. The Jewish calendar sanctifies time, and invites us to sanctify ourselves within time’s passage. Every holiday asks us to reflect upon and enact a theme: repentance and reconciliation at the High Holy Days; joy and gratitude at Sukkot; shining light in the darkness and keeping hope alive at Chanukah; maintaining our sense of humor and irony at Purim; the thrill, struggle, and challenge of liberation at Passover; opening to revelation at Shavuot; and so on for the remaining holidays of the year. Additionally, the weeks leading up to the holidays are understood as a heightened time of preparation and focus on the themes of that season; we have many opportunities during the year to awaken and refine the key attributes of a well-lived and meaningful life. At LSI you will have the opportunity to live fully and grow in “Jewish time.”
Celebrating Shabbat is a beautiful and central component of LSI workshops and intensives. Shabbat is meant to be a weekly spiritual retreat, an opportunity to be renewed, restored, and refreshed. A full experience of Shabbat is needed in today’s world perhaps more than ever before. Let us nurture you during Shabbat at LSI, with enlivening song and prayer, delicious healthy meals, meaningful study, beautiful surroundings, and an atmosphere of loving kindness.
Our programs are open to all, regardless of religious upbringing or belief. LSI courses focus on the gifts and wisdom Judaism can offer; its messages are relevant to everyone. We’ll use Jewish wisdom as a lens on our contemporary lives and we are always enriched by the teachings of other faiths and traditions. So, welcome, everyone!
Make new friends and deepen old friendships during LSI programs. Our central commitment to honest, unpretentious communication encourages and enables people to connect with one another. That elusive quality of “community” grows and flourishes naturally in our setting. Come enjoy and discover.
Expand your heart with programs designed to inspire and nurture full-hearted living. As Jews, we’re often drawn to words and ideas – the intellectual side of things. At LSI, we certainly aim to grow our minds, but we also get out of our heads and into our hearts with programs that deftly balance intellect and emotion, left brain and right.
We love studying Torah – which is much, much more than a book. It is a living, dynamic 3,000-year-long conversation about that book. It is a map and guide to our own inner journeys, waiting to be deciphered. Torah and all of its tributaries are, as our tradition teaches, “a tree of life for all who take hold of it.” Come be energized by the wonder of deep Torah study at LSI.
More than lectures, LSI programs are experiential. Jewish mystical tradition speaks of the four worlds of experience: the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical. At LSI we embrace this holistic understanding of education and growth. Whether we’re building a sukkah together, singing and dancing, listening to one another with care, or enjoying a Shabbat dinner, LSI programs will give you the opportunity to absorb and embody Judaism and its teachings into your entire being.
Speaking of Shabbat dinner: Food is a celebrated part of Jewish life and learning. We love to eat, and sharing a meal is a wonderful way to make new friends and sanctify our Jewish heritage. So many Jewish holidays are focused on festive meals as spiritual and physical sustenance. Preparing food, giving thanks, and then eating together is one of the great joys of living. All meals are vegetarian, dairy and/or fish. Please let us know about any special dietary needs or restrictions that you may have, and we will do our best to accommodate you. Kosher meals are available upon request.
Our 34 acres of forest and ponds give us ample opportunity to take inspiration from nature. Whenever possible, we’ll find ways to get outside and into our beautiful natural environment, using nature as a way to deepen and expand our workshops and classes. And, as your mother used to say, it never hurts to get some fresh air!
At LSI and the Woodstock Jewish Congregation we reawaken the goodness of being alive. We make it safe for you to be yourself. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we eagerly embrace humor and playfulness. Life is often difficult and can weigh us down. At LSI we offer a much-needed antidote to the burdens of modern life. LSI seeks to not only enlighten, but to lighten too.
Bottom line: When we’re creative we’re fully alive. LSI programs celebrate creativity and nurture the creative spirit inherent in all of us. Immersing ourselves in creative tasks – writing, singing, building, cooking, storytelling, and so much more – is another way to develop our minds and hearts and to fulfill God’s intent for each of us to lead thriving, creative lives.