Join us December 14-17 for a long weekend of immersive Jewish healing, community building and self-discovery at AJU's Brandeis-Bardin Campus in Simi Valley, CA. Visioned and founded by Rabbi Deborah Newbrun (renowned former Tawonga Camp Director and Covenant Award Recipient), the Divorce & Discovery retreat intentionally leads you on a journey to let go of hurt, anger, guilt and resentment within a supportive Jewish community. 

Created for anyone who has ever navigated the multi-faceted challenges of divorce or separation after a significant relationship, this retreat will help you traverse one of life’s great challenges with the support and guidance of Jewish ritual, wisdom and community. 

Judaism gets many milestones right – birth, marriage, death – with prayers and traditional customs to honor life’s rites of passages. But when it comes to divorce, Jewish tradition historically only offers a Get (a divorce contract). This retreat seeks to fill that void by helping people who may feel broken, guilty, shame or in pain find their way back to wholeness – guided by Jewish healing rituals, communal support and professional expertise.

Plus, experience all that camp has to offer, including campfires, song sessions, Shabbat, pool dips, guided hiking, arts and crafts, the alpine tower, archery, and delicious food!


General Retreat Highlights

  • Activities

    In addition to specialized programming, we will offer all of our classic weekend program activities, including yoga, arts and crafts, the alpine tower, hiking, campfires, our heated pool, and more.

  • Shabbat

     As a community, we will celebrate Shabbat with singing, dancing and a delicious Friday night dinner followed by participatory services in our beautiful outdoor sanctuary on Saturday morning.

  • Meals

    AJU will serve Kosher tasty and nutritious meals to participants, catering to all allergies and dietary needs (including, but not limited to, options for vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, gluten free, and lactose free meals).

  • Housing

    For this retreat, all participants will stay in our heated conference center rooms. Each room has its own bathroom, and most participants will either have a room to themselves or share with only one other person.

  • Location

    The Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University features 2,700-acres of hills and valleys, ready to explore. In addition to the Adult Conference Center, retreat participants will have access to hiking trails, gardening, swimming, archery, the alpine tower, visits to our many animals housed on site, and so much more!

Divorce & Discovery Program Overview

  • Havurah: Your Retreat Friends

    Attending an adult retreat can feel intimidating. All participants will be assigned to a Havurah Group … think of this as your retreat friendship group. You will meet daily to have a chance to get to know one another in a small facilitated group, process the day’s activities, share experiences and serve as each other’s anchors while at camp.

  • Divorce Café

    Your friends and family may be tired of talking about your divorce, and, furthermore, may not know how to support you. Divorce Café is an evening salon-style program for retreat participants to discuss topics of interest related to divorce and healing including managing finances, parenting through divorce and more. Participants will gain peer insights and support through the grief, bewilderment and loss associated with divorce.

  • Jewish Rituals for Healing from Divorce

    Through the sacred act of Jewish ritual, we will honor, process and offer you a path to move through whatever stage of the divorce journey you are in:

    • Opening Up - Morning is a time of great hope and opening. We will offer an elective morning shacharit (Hebrew for “dawn”) services at our outdoor prayer space.
    • Celebration - We will welcome and celebrate Shabbat in community, reciting prayers, sharing a meal, dancing and singing. A musical Kabbalat Shabbat service will invite participants to feel the joy in Judaism. 
    • Connectedness & Joy - We know that when we sing in community, we feel interconnected and joyful. On Saturday morning, we will gather for a Torah Service. We will hear the Torah portion interpreted through a divorce lens and those who want can experiment by saying Kaddish for the ending of their marriage. Singing and praying together in this sacred space is often a moment of spiritual resonance for many weekend participants.
    • Separate & Heal - Havdalah means separation. It is the ritual that distinguishes between the sacred time of Shabbat and the ordinary time of the rest of the week. We will use our Camp Havdalah ceremony to help people separate both Shabbat from the rest of the week, as well as  their married selves from their non-married selves. 
    • Ritual Mourning - Sitting Shiva is the Jewish way to mourn the death of a beloved. Those who are interested will have the opportunity to sit in community, in a facilitated circle, to mourn the death of their marriage.
    • Letting Go - Tashlich is the ritual associated with Rosh Hashanah of throwing bread crumbs in a body of water to symbolically release the things we want to let go. During the retreat, partake in this healing ritual and recite individual and communal prayers of letting go.
    • Cleanse, Release - A mikvah is a bath in which Jewish ritual purification is performed, the water has to be mayim chayim - living waters. During the retreat, participants will have the option to partake in a mikvah ceremony and experience the transformative properties of living waters.
  • Professional Experts and Religious and Spiritual Leaders

    Professional experts and religious and spiritual leaders will help you find a path back to wholeness. From rabbis, therapists and and healers to certified divorce coaches, divorce doulas, yoga instructors and challenge course facilitators, our team of guides is here to support you:

    • ​​Rabbis and Jewish Educators - These spiritual leaders will be the backbone of the weekend’s Jewish learning and engagement. They will lead workshops, Jewish rituals and art-focused activities to help facilitate healing.
    • Therapists - Therapists (along with our faculty and other staff leaders) will help facilitate the Havurah Groups and be available in the afternoons to check in with participants who sign up to meet with them. 
    • Certified Divorce Coaches - To provide expert, empathic listening and suggestions for specific approaches and activities for people going through the early phases of divorce. 
    • Photographer - Married folks have their spouses to photograph them; divorced folks may be experiencing this sense of loss. A staff photographer will be taking portraits of participants to celebrate and honor them. 
    • Yoga & Alpine Tower Instructors – Physical movement helps us to be in sync with our bodies and tap into newfound strength. Our yoga instructor will support participants to still the mind, feel grounded in the body and connected to the breath. Alpine tower facilitators will empower participants through overcoming physical and mental obstacles.


  • Do you have to be divorced to attend?

    This retreat will support people who feel broken and in pain following a separation from a close romantic partner. You do not need to have been married to attend, nor do you need to have officially divorced. If you aren’t sure if the program is right for you, reach Rabbi Deborah Newbrun to discuss at deborah [at] (deborahatgetsetgocadotcom).

  • Do you have to be Jewish to attend?

    While you don’t have to be Jewish to attend, anyone who joins should have an open mind and an interest in Judaism. A major focus of the retreat will be engaging in Jewish rituals and practices as a way to process and heal from divorce. We expect all types of Jews and Jew adjacent folks to attend.

  • I am in the process of separating/getting a divorce. Can I still join? 

    If you have made the final decision to no longer be with your life partner, and want to experience healing through Jewish ritual, then this is the right program for you. If you’re not sure, please contact Rabbi Deborah Newbrun at deborah [at] (deborahatgetsetgocadotcom). She will be happy to discuss it with you.

  • I got divorced many years ago. Can I still attend?

    Yes. The pain and suffering caused by divorce can stay with us for a very long time. This retreat will still have much value for you, no matter how many years have passed since your divorce.


  • I’m not a huge wilderness person. Is this the right program for me?

    Our adult Adult Conference Center is fully equipped to make you feel comfortable in hotel-style accommodations while still enjoying the natural scenery of our 2,700 acres. Our site is equipped with both ramps and stairs, and any accessibility requests can be made during the registration process.


Feel free to reach out to Rabbi Deborah Newbrun with questions relating to retreat programming at deborah [at] (deborahatgetsetgocadotcom). For registration, housing, or other logistical questions, please reach out to myra.meskin [at] or 310.440.1274. A member of our team will be happy to support you.