Temple Beth El With nearly 700 family members, Temple Beth El has a vibrant program of religious, spiritual, educational, social, social action and support activities. Temple Beth El’s two main auxiliaries, the Sisterhood and the Men’s Club, each have an active agenda of programs, services and activities. Temple Beth El is affiliated... Read More
Congregational Winter Retreat

img_7899Temple Beth El Congregational Retreat
Friday Evening—Sunday Morning, January 13-15, 2017 (MLK Weekend) @ OSRUI in Oconomowoc

Connect with the TBE community of all ages at our annual retreat!
One of the least expensive all inclusive weekends you’ll ever have!
All food, snacks, activities, and lodging included!
Come for the whole weekend or just a day.

Please contact Aleeza if you are interested in helping or with questions.

Congregational Retreat 2017 Flyer (PDF) | Retreat Registration 2017 (PDF) or Register Online 



“The Temple retreat has become one of the Jewish highlights of our year. Singing, sledding, slumber parties, trivia, ruach, OSRUI – what’s not to love!” – Kim Waldman

“Our family looks forward to the TBE retreat every year!  We enjoy hanging with Temple friends- some old and some new, participating in services, attending Jewish interest talks, eating good food that we don’t have to cook, and of course teaming up to play the very fun trivia game! Our kids make sure we sign up every year too! They enjoy sleeping over with friends, making arts and crafts, sledding, participating in Havdalah, and of course eating yummy food!” – Dana Prager

Our annual Temple Beth El retreat at Camp OSRUI in Oconomoc, WI is a wonderful time to spend Shabbat together as a community, kick back and relax as you get to know your fellow Temple Beth El community members of all ages. We create a sacred space, welcoming in Shabbat with the glow of tea lights, and ending Shabbat with the glow of a Havdalah candles. Our evenings our spent playing games and Trivia night. Expand your horizons formally with our Scholar-in-residence, or informally, over a meal with a fellow congregant. Get some exercise in at the Sports Center, or sledding down Bayit Hill.

  • We stay in lodges each with private rooms and baths for each family or individual. Children age 9 and above stay in supervised winterized cabins with bunk beds and bathroom facilities. All onsite activities and meals are included starting with Friday night dinner through breakfast on Sunday.
  • We offer a special rate for those wishing to join us just for Saturday to enjoy learning with our Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Jeffrey Schein.
  • All those who register will receive a Retreat Handbook with directions, packing list, and other information a couple weeks in advance.

Please contact Aleeza Hoffert, Director of Community Engagement with questions at 608.238.3123 or engage@tbemadison.org



Dr. Jeffrey Schein will be our Scholar-in-Residence at our Congregational Retreat


jeffrey-sheinDr. Jeffrey Schein, currently the director of the Covenant Project Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology and the senior education consultant for the Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood.  Dr. Schein will facilitate several discussions relevant to being Jewish in our current world.


His sessions include:

  1. Jacob’s Blessing: The Generative Spark Between Generations (it’s complicated!)
    Jacob’s “blessing” of the twelve tribes provided the artistic inspiration for the Chagall Windows. It also is a portrait of the always powerful and sometimes troubling forces that unfurl the banner l’dor l’dor, from one generation to the next. The “act of blessing” portrayed in the text becomes the prototype for the tradition of tzava’ot (ethical wills) left for the next generation as the previous generation nears the end of its life. Participants will explore all these forces launched from Jacob’s bedside and last days.
  2. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, and Digital Dilemmas
    Communication between the generations takes on many new forms in the digital age. Yet, the challenge of generations speaking different languages remains unchanged. See what a 1933 Bintel Brief (a Dear Abby of its time) addressed to the editor of the Jewish Forward reveals to us about the multiple languages (all English!) in our midst.
  3. Ideas Fly Fast, Habits Change Slowly: A High Holy Day Tradition Applied to Technology
    See how an eclectic mix of classical Jewish texts, a high holiday tradition, and a Ted Talk from Dr. Sherry Turkle can help us gain some perspective on where we have come to in our relationships with technology today. The potentials and challenges of the digital age can actually fit in your pocket it turns out.
  4. The Long Trek from Oconomowoc to Madison: Ideas for an Enriched and Ethical Digital Life at Beth El
    A chance to revisit the major themes that have emerged over our first three sessions and think creatively about how a kehilla kedosha (holy community) can enrich its Jewish life through the thoughtful uses of technology.

Tentative Schedule

We’re working on another great retreat. We’ll keep this tentative schedule updated. A schedule with more detail will also be included in the retreat handbook sent out to those who register.

2016 Schedule:


5:00pm – 5:45pm       Arrival and pre-Shabbat Oneg

5:45pm – 6:00pm       Welcome & Kick-off

6:00pm – 6:15pm       Meet Our Interns & Parent Expectation Meeting

6:15pm – 6:30pm       Candlelighting

6:30pm – 7:00pm       Friday night Shabbat service

7:00pm – 8:00pm       Shabbat Dinner

8:00pm – 8:15pm       January Birthday Celebration and treats

8:30pm –                     Childrens Bedtime Story

8:30pm –                    Board games

8:30pm –                    Knitter’s Circle

8:30pm –                    Alternative Youth Activities with our Interns


7:00am – 8:15am        Self-organized, free-play sports

8:30am – 9:15am        Breakfast

9:15am – 10:45am      Morning Shabbat service

10:50am – 11am         Oneg Shabbat (Challah and juice)

11am – 12pm              Choose from the following options:

    1. Cooking for Kids or kids craft/activities
    2. Scholar-in-residence: Rebecca Starr; Parasha (Torah Portion) of the Week – B’shalach: The Israelites are forever witness to god’s miracles, yet they continue to be dissatisfied and filled with complaint.  What right do they have? Are their actions justified?  What does their complaining get them?  We will discuss the Israelite community’s difficult relationship with God as it appears in this week’s parsha.
    3. Table games (ping pong, air hockey and foosball)

12:05pm – 12:15pm      Group Photo

12:15pm – 1:00pm        Lunch in the dining hall

1:00pm – 1:15pm          Break

1:15pm – 3:30pm          Choose from the following options:

      1. Arts and crafts
      2. Sledding/outside activities. Meet in sports center for team sports in the event of limited snow for sledding.
      3. Sports Center

1:15pm – 2:15pm          Scholar-in-residence: Rebecca Starr; Caring for the earth – the Jewish ethic of Bal Tashchit (not wasting): Jews are required treat the earth with justice and respect. What does Judaism have to say about our relationship with the earth?  As stewards of the environment, what are our obligations to it? This session will explore those responsibilities through text and interaction.

2:30pm – 3:30pm          Scholar-in-residence: Rebecca Starr; Caring for ourselves – the Jewish ethic of Shmirat HaGuf (caring for the body): Our bodies were given to us by God.  Therefore, we have a responsibility to treat them with justice, kindness, and respect.  Join us to explore the way in which Judaism’s rich textual history expects us to care for our health and get some hands on ideas to use with your family!

3:30pm – 4:00pm          Sing-a-long and hot cocoa with Kenneth Lyons. We’ll enjoy treats from cooking for kids and hear the Torah Portion Parody’s written earlier in the day.

4:30pm – 6:00pm          Choose from the following options:

  1. Kids’ animated movie and popcorn
  2. Tentative Teen Activity
  3. Tentative Middle School Activity
  4. Scholar-in-residence: Rebecca Starr; Abraham Joshua Heschel and his Work with Civil Rights – the Jewish Perspective on the Civil Rights Movement in America: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was a beloved friend and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Jewish community’s involvement with the civil rights movement in America is extensive and impressive.  We will explore how Heschel and many other Jews helped to change the course of history and bring about equality.
  5. Lay-led Discussion: “Bringing Judaism to your home and families”

6pm – 6:45pm               Dinner in the dining hall

6:45pm – 7pm               Break

7pm – 7:30pm               Havdalah service

7:30pm – 9:15pm          Trivia night

7:30pm –                        Alternative youth program with Interns

8:00pm – 8:30pm          Children bedtime story with Rabbi Biatch


7:00am – 8:15am     Self-organized, free-play sports in the gym (basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc.)

8:15am – 8:30am           Break

8:30am – 9:15am           Breakfast in the dining hall

9:15am – 10am              Choose from the following two options:

  1. For 7th grade and older – Morning T’filah service with the Rabbi
  2. For 6th grade and younger – Spiritual Greeting of the Day

10am – 10:15am            Break

10:15am – 11:15am       Reflection with slideshow presentation and closing circle in the Soref Center Meeting Room

11:15am – 11:30am       Snack

11:30am – 12:00pm       Clean up and departure