(lubavitch.com) Nadine Veibell is still looking for words to adequately capture her experience at the National Jewish Retreat over the Fourth of July weekend at a resort in Park City, Utah.
“All I can say is ‘Wow!’ I had an awakening. At 41 years old, I found the connection I seemed to be looking for my whole life,” Veibell said.
Veibell was part of a group of nine Idahoans who drove six and a half hours to join 250 Jewish people at the third annual retreat hosted by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. The five-day event at Canyons Grand Summit Resort drew participants from 20 states, from major Jewish communities in Los Angeles, New York, Florida and New Jersey and from dots on the Jewish map like Plano, TX; Missoula, MT; Richmond, VA; and Alberta, Canada.
Participants were from every demographic. Parents brought children, who enjoyed a mini-Camp Gan Israel during their stay. Fifty college students from thirty-two campuses attended. Baby boomers and seniors rounded out the mix.
The diverse group helped Rebecca Runyan feel comfortable. She chose to come at the urging of Rabbi Mendel Lifshitz, director of Chabad of Boise, whose Jewish Learning Institute courses she enjoyed. As the social action chair at Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Boise, Runyan copped to “feeling a little nervous because I did not know what to expect” before the retreat. “I was really pleased and relieve that everyone was so warm and friendly.”
Rabbi Efraim Mintz, director of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and the JLI retreat, likened the spirit of the retreat to “a family reunion for people who may have never met but discovered their oneness as part the Jewish people.”
Staying at a five star location at the base of majestic mountains awash in greenery and golden wildflowers didn’t hurt either. “You can’t help but feel close to G-d in this setting,” said Rabbi Mendy Weg, the retreat’s coordinator.