Very few organizations provide an uplifting weekend getaway that allows you to spend Shabbat with your spouse face-to-face with the most prominent of neighbors: the Atlantic Ocean. Attending Emet’s Couples Retreat has become an annual tradition for many couples who are either former Emet students or are affiliated with Emet Outreach. Emet is a dynamic college- and community-based organization working with college students and young adults to bring the beauty of Judaism and Torah to Jewish communities in New York City through specially designed campus programs, lectures, seminars, trips, and fellowships, as well as other social-educational events.
This was the fourth annual Emet Couples Retreat, and for the first time in the retreat’s short-lived history, we all had the auspicious honor of having Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, from The Shmuz, in attendance to provide his unique insights and very special “Ted Talk”-type lectures on the topic of marriage.
“The Shabbat after Thanksgiving has evidently come to be known as the Shabbat of giving thanks to our spouses,” averred Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, CEO of Emet Outreach, during Friday night’s prayer service overlooking the endless Atlantic Ocean. Rabbi Rutenberg noted that approximately 150 couples registered for the retreat this year and about 200 couples would have liked to join as well, but unfortunately couldn’t make it due to prior commitments or babysitting challenges for their children.
This year’s retreat was highlighted by the active participation of Rabbi Nissim Musheyev, Emet’s newly appointed COO. Rabbi Musheyev leads Emet’s community development program. He eloquently emphasized the importance of taking action to bring the Bukharian community to the next level of greatness within the parameters of Torah and Halachah (Jewish law). He implored the couples to strive for new heights in unifying the Bukharian community.
Speakers at the retreat included Rabbi Mordechai Kraft, Dr. Mark Rutenberg, Rabbi Doniel Frank, Dr. Akiva Perlman, Rabbi Reuven Kigel, Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov, Rabbi Chaim Muskat, Rabbi Refael Ribacoff, Rabbi Israel Itshakov, Rabbi Dovid Delman, Rabbi Binyamin Yuhanan, Mrs. Rivka Muskat, Mrs. Devorah Kigel, Mrs. Adina Ribacoff, Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz, and Dr. Tamar Perlman. Sessions were presented on a wide array of topics, such as “The Art and Science of a Beautiful Marriage,” “Keeping the Passion Alive Within Yourself and Your Marriage,” “Mysteries of the Mikvah,” “Intimacy for Real Men,” and “Empowering or Overpowering Our Children: Strategies for Effective Parenting.”
Catering at the retreat was provided by Meal Mart of Main Street, which is under VHQ supervision, and the meat was according to Beit Yosef kashrut standards. The delectable catering featured a wide array of Bukharian cultural cuisine, as well as Ashkenazi dishes.
The highlight of the retreat was the melaveh malka banquet on Motzaei Shabbat, dedicated in memory of Libby Schwartz, a”h, which featured a lavish dairy buffet, a live sushi bar and wine tasting by Hakerem. Entertainment was provided by vocalist Shlomi Elishaev, DJ Dice, and ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner. The melaveh malka also included a terrific lecture by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, in which he urged each individual in the crowd to break past his or her preconceived glass ceiling.
The retreat provided an extraordinary opportunity for all the couples in attendance to rediscover their inner selves and recharge their marriages. Each couple received world-class accommodations provided by Emet’s committed staff and the Ocean Place Resort & Spa staff.
I truly believe that each and every couple was uplifted by this weekend getaway and will truly seek to grow and implement the valuable lessons imbued at the 2017 Emet Couples Retreat. As always, Emet has inspired us to truly strive to achieve oneness and harmony with our spouse in a joyous Torah framework, forever.