Ecstatic Meditation

A week of Hebrew Chant and Deep Silence
with Rabbi Shefa Gold • June 4 to 10, 2018
in the Fitzgerald Center in beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Fitzgerald Center in Jemez Springs, NM

The essence of faith is an awareness of the vastness of Infinity.
— Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

The Jewish practice of Devekut inspires us to open to the vastness of the Infinite, while releasing the content of thought, moment to moment. During this week of chant and silence we will connect to the Divine through the Earth, Water, Fire and Air in the glorious setting of the Jemez Mountains.

The retreat will take place at the Fitzgerald Center in beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Easily accessible from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. All participants will enjoy private accommodations.

Location:, Jemez Springs, New Mexico

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"This retreat was one of the rare experiences that truly changed my life and my outlook.  I brought back a sense of deep peace and a stronger connection to God as the heart of all being and love.  I count this retreat as one of the highlights of my life.  Shefa is a master of blending teaching, joy, song, meditation, mystery, ritual, and fun.  The setting is spectacular and accommodations at the Fitzgerald Center are very comfortable, with a warm and welcoming staff.  The opportunity to participate in this retreat is one of the best gifts you could give yourself."

- Ann (from Lincoln Nebraska)

“I recently attended the Ecstasy Retreat in Jemez Springs at the Fitzgerald Lodge during the week of May 15 -21. It was a delightful week, inspirational, group bonding. The chanting together resonated a deep inner awareness, creating seed moments to imprint lasting memories. We chanted and learned the various melodies moving through the mental states of Earth Land, Water, Fire, Air with body and breath awareness. I reached a new stronger bonding with God and have taken away some practices I can integrate in daily life. I enjoyed walking along the stream, there was a lovely bridge to sit meditate on your own, with the birds singing. Our retreat was enhanced by the wonderful food prepared by Surya who, prepared healthy tasty meals, catering to all dietary restrictions gluten free no beans , no onions, vegan. Experiencing Life being Silent at meals and throughout the week added personal growth increased awareness in all the senses.

The Fitzgerald center offer comfortable private rooms included private bathroom.  There was a Labyrinth, that everyone could walk on their own. The location was breath-taking , the water rushing down the river from the melting snow,  wild flowers in bloom , in addition to the cactus's in bloom in this desert mesa with gorgeous mountain walls colored in  red sandstone , volcanic ash creating a cream color, filled with trees provided green backdrop.  The Fitzgerald always has tea available hot and cold, also made coffee on request;  this was available on the chilly evening, we climb the steps to the lodge and get a  warm drink. The conference rooms and meeting rooms offered a spiritual ambiance.  There is also an historical site across the street to learn about the Jemez tribe and Indian Life with the influence on the Spanish conquests' and catholic priests influence.  

This was truly a restful week. Thank you Shefa and the Fitzgerald lodging staff. “ 

- Robin (from Chico, California)

My weeklong retreat in the stunning Jemez Mountains at the wonderful Fitzgerald Center was nothing short of miraculous and life giving. Rabbi Shefa Gold is a master chanter, teacher, healer and inspirer. She knows through her own life experiences, deep spiritual inquiry and devotion how to water an arid soul, or open a long closed heart.  As each day of the retreat unfolded, Rabbi Shefa, with her beautiful, heart centering chants, wisdom teachings, and G-d infused voice - lead us gently and skillfully on a sacred journey closer and closer to the mystery, grace and love of the Creator. At the same time, she reminded each of us of our own true longings and renewed our faith in those longings. Our chanting was accompanied by periods of silent meditation, prayer, magical walks in the New Mexican desert mountains, joyful, healing ritual by and in riverbeds, enlightening one on one sessions, and healthy, mindful eating.  I highly recommend this en-chanting retreat to clergy (of any faith), chaplains, healthcare workers, singers, nonsingers, and anyone whose body, mind and spirit is in need of a deep, cleansing, restorative tune up. I returned home feeling empowered, renewed and abundantly blessed with greater clarity, groundedness and a much greater sense of purpose and direction.


by  Cantor Rita Glassman
Marin County, California
May 28, 2017

Clarity on the Mesa

“After a year of intense family caregiving, I was blessed to spend a week at Jemez Springs in the mountains of New Mexico, in May of 2017. Arriving exhausted and emotionally spent, the enchantment of this amazing place immediately began to sooth my weary soul. Rabbi Shefa Gold led a weeklong meditation and chanting retreat. There were 12 of us, and as I looked around at my Fellow Pilgrim’s, I realized that the countenance of each one of us, was showing wear and tear from dealing with the fast paced world we had come from. The deep blue sky and warm sunshine seemed to melt our worries and fears as we passed thru the week. Spending time chanting and sharing our deepest wisdom thoughts by a gurgling river took us to a new level of experiencing life at its purest and most profound. On our last day together, looking around, I realized that our faces actually sparkled. I am looking forward to returning next year for another dip into the Pure Life of Jemez Springs at the Father Fitzgerald Retreat and Renewal Center.”

- Tully (from Bend Oregon)

I recently returned from a retreat in the beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico area. It was billed as an “Ecstatic Meditation” week. As I read the description, I sensed that the content of the retreat may be just what I had been looking for. My return to Jewish practice (after 40 yeas of wandering) has led me to Torah, Talmud and Mussar. My brain was being nourished, but my desire to know G-d was not being addressed. I was much happier as a practicing Jew, but something on my soul level was lacking. I loved Shefa’s teaching that we weren’t there to figure G-d out; we were learning to experience G-d within us. Through the teachings, chanting and meditations, I was able to go deep inside for a glimpse of G-d within me. The surroundings were an added boost: The Fitzgerald Retreat Center was nestled between two gloriously beautiful mountain ridges. The Jemez River was walking distance from my casita. The accommodations were simple, yet functional, and in fact, the simplicity of my living quarters made me smile. They supported the ideas we were exploring: that what is truly meaningful and enriching are not the things of the material world. While my stay was cut short by an emergency at home, I went back with new tools that I am incorporating into my personal practice of Judaism. I hope to be able to return next year for more!

- Judith (from Tucson)

In the week since I returned home from the retreat, I have been enveloped by the magical sounds of chant. The retreat was an extraordinary container for spiritual growth, shaped by your leadership of the supportive, loving (and silent) company of a group of people I'll never forget. I will be bringing chants to our community at every opportunity. Deep, unending gratitude to you for sharing your gifts with us and so many others.

- Lolly (from Boulder, CO)

“For me, the Ecstatic Meditation retreat was a perfect complement and refresher to Shefa's Kol Zimra programme that I had completed as part of my ongoing Jewish spiritual development. Being familiar with Shefa's style and chants, the retreat felt like coming home. It was comfortable for me to engage with and participate in the services and practices. I don't live near any other Hebrew chanters so it was a much appreciated boost to my personal spiritual practice. I came away uplifted and renewed. I highly recommend this retreat.”

- Lisa (from Bristol, England)

“I came all the way from England with my Jewish partner to attend Shefa Gold's Ecstatic Meditation retreat at the Fr Fitzgerald retreat centre in Jemez Springs NM. Shefa's inspiring leadership and empowering approach enabled me to participate for the first time in chanting, and in a variety of new spiritual practices. In addition, the retreat centre is set in the most beautiful surroundings. The accommodation was very comfortable and the food delicious. Every need was catered for. The retreat experience was life changing and I recommend this to anyone, regardless of their religious or spiritual identity, who want to deepen and enhance their spiritual practice.”

- Maria (from Bristol, England)

The retreat with Shefa was inspiring and nourishing, a spacious time of spiritual renewal. Shefa is a generous teacher.

- Faith Hayflich

Rabbi Shefa Gold brings a rare authenticity to everything she teaches.  While many students, myself included, first encountered Reb Shefa through chanting, in this retreat she brings front and center her lifetime of experience with meditation, as well as the profound wisdom of Jewish and other spiritual traditions.  Shefa's teachings enriched and deepened my long-standing meditation practice and made it alive again after it had become dry and routine.  Guided deep into the silence, I  reconnected to heart and opened to being in the presence of  the Divine both in and out of meditation practice.  I continue to experience this connection  unfolding  in my daily life long after the retreat has ended, which is the mark of life-changing learning from an inspired and inspiring teacher. 

- Maxine Fraade

Having traveled an eclectic spiritual path for decades, I leaped at the opportunity to experience the synergy between silent meditation and sacred chant, mysticism and activism, personal and planetary healing (tikkun halev and tikkun olam) in a Jewish context.  With Great Love, Shefa guided our journey, which culminated in each of us channeling our own unique response to the Torah’s question: What does God require of you?
If you are a spiritual seeker who wants to deepen your commitment and connection with the Divine, I highly recommend this Ecstatic Meditation adventure!  Since returning home, the Presence of the Divine continues to illuminate me from within.  
Again, many thanks for this life-affirming experience!

- Ruth Sloven

There was something very calming about this retreat where natural surroundings fostered the beauty of silence.  It was about communing with oneself in a nurturing way and allowing the Universe in without distracting pressures.  Just “being” was truly medicinal, revealing and releasing.

- Eva Freidner

In this retreat, I experienced the ground of Being itself, and saw with clarity the perfection in everything....the rocks, the river, the mountains, and in each person, including myself.  My conditional relationship with myself gave way to the pure joy of Being.

- Ariel Lippman

This retreat is a unique combination of chanting and devakut meditation.  The opportunity to abstain from social distractions, smaller size, incredible teaching from Shefa and breathtaking setting allow a depth of meditation-chant practice that is beneficial for people with all levels of experience in chant and meditation.

- Linda Zahavi