Elyssa Moss Rabinowitz is a co-founder and executive director of Kol HaOt- Illuminating Jewish Life through Art. She is an ROI Community member and an experienced facilitator and educator. She has served as the Jewish Scholar in Residence on a number of Schusterman family foundation REALITY trips to Israel.
After working with a number of REALITY groups while they were on their trip to Israel, I was thrilled to hear about the initiative of a few community members to create a REALITY couples' retreat. For many participants, the trip in Israel and follow up gatherings and online interactions serve as major life-changing experiences. Participants explore their values and leadership as well as how they'd like to incorporate Judaism into their life. Given the serious impact it has, it can be difficult to come back to a spouse or serious partner who has not gone through the same experience.
The goal of this retreat was to bring those partners into the "world" of REALITY, while at the same time exploring these issues jointly as a couple. I applied for a Go Speak! Micro Grant to enable me to come, teach and facilitate at the retreat. It took place at a gorgeous nature reserve near the Golden Gate bridge.
Being the only person there without her "other half" was a bit strange, but I enjoyed co-leading the introduction to Shabbat, a session on incorporating Jewish ritual into your life as well as running an impromptu conversation on "Judaism in the Bedroom"! I had many wonderful 'one on two' discussions with participants- now having the opportunity to connect with previous friends and meet their significant others, helping them figure out the next step in their Jewish journey. Not only did I have the opportunity to teach and share both my knowledge and life experience with these young couples, but I also learned a lot about myself and my own couple-hood.
Most of the weekend was participant led, and there were a number of sessions on communication styles, which can be the source of much frustration between couples. One session asked participants which they shape they identified with most- a circle, a square, a triangle or a squiggle? Based on the answers, we identified our partner and our own different communication styles and learned some tools how to facilitate better conversations. If you're curious about this, you may need to attend the next REALITY couple retreat!