Elat Chayyim, Catskills
A Jewish spiritual retreat.

From the March 24, 2003 Issue of New York

For fifties-era Jews, the Catskills meant two things: borscht-belt comics and family vacations. Today, the Catskills offer an altogether more enlightening escape: Jewish spiritual weekends. Elat Chayyim’s retreats kick off with energetic Friday-night services. Teachers, trainers, rabbis, and cantors are imported from as far away as Israel to lead classes in subjects such as the Cabala, Hebrew, and musical prayer. Physical activities include “Torah Yoga,” walking meditation, and a weeklong program called “Embodied Judaism,” which includes a Gyrotonic-based warm-up (like Pilates, but with circular movements) to stimulate the pressure points mentioned in the Cabala, followed by days of rock scrambling, hiking, and caving. Those who like a little good-old-fashioned pampering with their mystical questing can sign up for Swedish massages or reflexology. There are no phones or TVs, and the food is Kosher vegetarian with the occasional fish option on Shabbat. Shecky Green not included.

-- Sarah Bernard

Elat (rates from $75; programs are an additional $85 to $150; 800-398-2630; elatchayyim.org) is two hours from Manhattan.

Related Stories on New York Metro
52 Weekends: Shawangunks, Catskills (March, 2002)
Summer Getaways 2002: Margaretville, NY (June 3, 2002)

Related Websites
Guide to the Catskill Mountains - Area map and things to do.