The Ansh-eh Zafon retreat took place in early December.
As in the last few years, it was at a rural resort that is off-season, and we had the whole thing to ourselves in a motel and condo-type accommodations.
Our food is prepared by our attendees and Kashrut is certified by clergy.
The ambiance is low-key, relaxed and restful. The services are intimate and the kavanah high.
This year there were several disparate themes, a major one because Mercaz Canada was present with significant presentations on the Conservative movement, Israel and the upcoming World Zionist Conference. Also of note, Mercaz was represented by several women and men as well as Rabbi Jennifer Gorman, the Executive Director of Mercaz Canada, which we believe was a first for an FJMC retreat.
The other major theme started with the opening remarks by Allan Kahan and opening panel with Rabbi Jennifer Gorman and Cantor Zach Mondrow. The topic was inclusion and went well beyond including non-heteronormative men but discussed ages, varying levels of observance, different levels of ability and tied well into the ever-present concern of commitment and growth, which were covered in the other presentations.
And fun; walks (no campfire this year), bar-b-q in December in Canada, humour, the Judaism Trivia game presented by Rabbi Gorman. Cantor Mondrow was the ringer and walked away with the honours (honors in the US)
Don Smith, president of the Ansh-eh Zafon region.