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Challenges and Opportunities: Kehilla’s Annual Community Retreat

by Maya Joshua

One of the things I love most about Kehilla is that we don’t shy away from what’s difficult. When I was a kid and I’d complain to my father that something was hard, he’d always respond with enthusiasm: “Good! Hard is good!,” he’d say. The gist was: if it’s hard and you’re tired and maybe it’s a little messy, you’re probably busy with something worthwhile. That’s how I know that the Kehilla retreat this summer is going to be fantastic: it’s only March, and we’re already weeks deep into some good challenges.

There are two big challenges with the retreat, and I’m going to share them with you and ask for your help. The first is that Kehilla has had amazing retreats in the past at a site called Bort Meadow, but Bort Meadow isn’t physically accessible for everyone in our community. The second is that the retreat requires a rad* and energized team – without which nothing is going to get off the ground.

Challenge A: accessibility. We’ve gone the rounds trying to figure out what makes the most sense for us as a community. Bort Meadow offers a unique space for the kind of intimate community-building that is hard to find – a location we have yet to find a match for. It has accessible bathrooms and is less than a 20 minute drive from Kehilla – but it’s a meadow, which is hard for wheelchairs and can pose  mobility barriers for some people. After consulting with a dozen or so community members whose mobility needs might be affected by holding the retreat at the meadow, the overall response was that it is worth seeing what we can do to come up with some creative access improvements because the magic of Bort Meadow is unique. And so we are determined to do our best to map out the accessibility challenges that this site raises for our members, and to make sure that we are prepared for them.

I am well aware – now, because some Kehilla friends have been kind and patient enough to widen my perspective (limited, as it is, by my privilege) – that this case-by-case prep is not what constitutes planning a truly accessible event. We’ll also continue exploring the idea of going to different locations for different kinds of retreats in future years: we know that every option offers different opportunities (and their own challenges). So here is my first ask to you: come talk to me about accessibility at Kehilla. Let’s talk about how this upcoming experience is going to help us to grow in this field, and how we can continue our quest for retreat magic and our commitment to truly accessible events.

Challenge B: planning. I need your help with planning and executing. You all keep me very busy; I love working for you, and feel deeply grateful to this community for the work that it does in the world, and the sacred  space that we work to offer each other. I want to put together a committee of people that is stoked to make this summer retreat a legend of summer retreats. It will not happen without your help. Let’s put some music on, grab some Thai food, and plan some magic – and then make it happen. What say you?

*definition of ‘rad from Urban Dictionary: An abbreviation of ‘radical’–a term made popular by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maya’s dictionary: really just means cool.

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