The JMR is one of those rare places where I instantly feel at home. The first time I came to the retreat I didn’t know what to expect and I was a bit nervous: coming to a weekend with 70 or 80 strangers is not an easy task, even if you are a very social person. After the weekend though, I felt like some of these guys were family.
I was about to get married and the most natural thing to do was to invite everyone to my wedding. Yosaif August, one of the “elders” in the retreat and its founder, also offered to make a “Tish” for me in Brooklyn. I felt a connection with some of the men I met at JMR that I have only with close friends and with all the rest it felt like part of a tribe or a Shtetl, as far as I can imagine those.
Spending a week-end with a bunch of other men was very meaningful, fun and free of judgments. At the JMR I had experienced a meaningful davening for the first time in my life thanks to the beautiful spirit of Rabbi Shawn Zevit, the special drumming of Akiva the Believer and the participation of all of us. I felt a deep connection to Judaism that I never got growing up in Israel. It gave me hope for a different kind of Judaism and it helped me feel at home in the US, to feel connected and part of a community. These and more are such rare gifts that I’m very thankful for them. I’m looking forward to at least 20 more JMR’s!