Feeling Burned Out? Try These 14 Jewish Breaks

In today’s world, racking up stress and desperately searching for daily or weekly releases is almost an obligatory part of work culture. We call it work-life-balance, a term invented to justify the overwhelming amount of time we dedicate to our burgeoning careers. But millennials aren’t the first to need this balance and they won’t be the last. Some find repreve in meditation, kickball, or yoga; others find harmony in faith.

If you resonate with the daily rhythms of prayer and mitzvot, you might find solace and connection to something greater than yourself there. If you don’t have that familiarity, you might still be wishing you could find a sense of peace within Judaism but have no idea where to look.

Almost 1 in 5 Americans experienced burnout in 2016, a number that has grown dramatically in the last 50 years. I could keep asking all sorts of questions about why this is and how we might address the underlying causes of this overwhelming, life-threatening stress, or, skip right to the part where I tell you what to do about it.

In the Jewish Outdoor Food Farming Environmental Education world (JOFEE) one of the 5 fundamental themes is “self-care” — a way to blend a burning demand for balance with the ancient traditions of Jewish culture.

If you are looking for a total break from your life or a quick reset grounded in Jewish tradition, here are a few options that might help get you back on track.

For a total break, consider:

Post college:

Taking a year off to live in Israel. There is no better way to connect with your Jewish roots than to take a leap of faith, try out a new passion and live abroad surrounded by thousands of your closest observant and secular Jewish friends. Masa Israel offers countless ways to live, work, and study abroad all subsidized to support your exploratory dreams.

Early-career professionals:

The JOFEE Fellowship offers a one-year training and job placement program. Take this opportunity to live and work in a new location, learn a new skill and teach young minds to authentically connect their Jewish identity to the rhythms of the Earth.

For mid-career professionals:

Immerse yourself in a learning community — challenging your understanding of Jewish text, tradition and connectivity. Pardes and Hadar are two great options for progressive thinkers looking to spend quality time getting to know themselves and the Jewish connections they might be missing.

For a quick reset, consider:

Post college:

Becoming a summer camp counselor. There are lots of great options to transform the lives of young ones while nurturing your own soul, but Eden Village Camp provides a particular brand of community support that you won’t find anywhere else. Consider joining their family for a summer internship at camp or on the farm and watch the transformation take place.

Early-career professionals:

A 3 month internship with Adamah. This farming intensive leadership development experience is for those seeking a truly transformative journey. The community created at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center is one that will stay with you for the rest of your life (and may just alter the course of your future).


How about transform your life working as a Teva nature educator? There’s no better way to bring back the feeling of freedom and possibility than by pushing yourself to explore old or new adventures in an Jewish outdoor education setting. Teva educators sign on for 3-12 week sessions in spring, fall, and winter.

Mid-career professionals:

You might not be able to leave your job forever, but what if you could invite yourself of a several month journey culminating in one unforgettable week — without leaving your job? Consider the Israel Ride. Not only will you quickly join a community of like-minded seekers, you will be taking a transformative journey for yourself and an incredible cause — our planet! At the end of the preparation period, join 200 other dedicated souls in Israel for a week long experience you will never forget.

Young families:

PJ Library chapters around the world offer weekend retreats designed to put a little space and separation between your daily grind and the family time you so desperately crave. Call your local chapter to find out when and where your closest getaway will take place!


Desperate for a punctuating break but retirement still a ways away? Check out Hazon’s week-long reset retreats for an opportunity to truly unwind and refocus your life. I recommend Torah Yoga, the Silent Meditation Retreat, or Let My People Sing to really kick-start a spiritual renewal experience.


Camp Isabella Freedman offers a truly unique experience to find new meaning and build community. This 2-4 week retreat set in the beautiful Berkshire mountains is your chance to break-up the ordinary, consider new possibilities, and focus your energies in this next phase of life.

Check out the links to the individual programs listed above or for more inspiration visit JOFEE.org.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Feeling Burned Out? Try These 14 Jewish Breaks

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