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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Heritage Retreats Inc dba University Heritage Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Judaism, Leadership Development, Religion, Special Education, Youth Development - Religious Leadership

Mission: We seek to revitalize Jewish identity through educational, religious and cultural initiatives that are designed to reach out to all Jews with an emphasis on those that do not strongly identify with Jewish life.

Target demographics: Jewish college students and young adults all over North America

Direct beneficiaries per year: 225

Geographic areas served: North America

Programs: Heritage Retreats is a one week immersion experience designed to revitalize Jewish identity among unaffiliated Jewish Youth.

Community Stories

125 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 zuckzuck

Client Served

Rating: 5

I think Heritage Retreats is a train to greatness. I bumped into my first Heritage Retreats opportunity this past summer, and I wish the same bump to anyone who might be deliberating on whether or not to go. DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. It wants you to experience, learn, be challenged and engaged, pushed yet relaxed without any requests or demands, ulterior motives or expectations. It - that is, the diverse rabbinical leadership, guides, volunteers, and all of the age-ranging observancy-varied attendees, were beautifully accepting and interested in one another. I learned that it only takes 36 hours to feel like family, especially in Poland. Warsaw - Lublin - Majdanek - Belzec - Krakow - Auschwitz/Birkenau - Krakow - Wolbrom - Wodzislaw - Lodz The dynamic leadership is scholarly, CAPTIVATING and full of vim. The deep, deep insight to Polish history and Polish/Jewish history put a lens on my mental camera. The cornucopia of kosher foods was tasty and fresh. The countrysides were lush, clean and picturesque. Krakow is magnificent. I had always wanted to go to Poland, to be depressed and uplifted simultaneously. Whoever you are, however your faith, whatever your age, you'll find something you're looking for. Even if it is unknown. To rekindle....you will.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The week spent with Heritage Retreats was one of my most inspiring and memorable experiences in my life. Powered by a very talented staff, Heritage Retreats provided a wide array of opportunities to grow and learn, by scheduling a delicate balance of education and entertainment. The program has had a positive and profound effect on strengthening my Jewish identity, and is a experience which I still reflect upon even many months later.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats helped me to, not only learn in-depth about my Judaism, but to come up with more questions for further learning after the trip. The tutors were friendly, informative, helpful, and personable....And who can resist a trip to California?

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Heritage retreats is a labor of love facilitated by a wonderful staff of caring administrators and volunteers. The program connects people from all walks of life through intellectual discussion and spiritual exploration. Though the program is merely a week, the lessons, friendship and memories linger on.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is an amazing and inspiring trip. Each day the participants are excited to be part of the program and eagerly participate in the classes and activities. It is extremely well run and attention is paid to every detail. Lives are changed with new meaning, excitement, pride and passion for being Jewish.

Client Served

Rating: 4

I really enjoyed being a participant of Heritage Retreats. I learned a lot and met amazing people. It was a very well put together program and I recommend it to many different types of people. I came away with a stronger understanding of myself, both as a Jew and as a person.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My overall experience of Heritage Retreats was a positive one! You can go from living/working/studying in the city, trying to make sense of it all... to a close knit, very unique and special family like environment in the 1st day! Add to that: Beautiful Location(s), Authentic Jewish learning, fun and adventure! They had an overall passion for being "cool", authentic and themselves. The staff went out of their way to be a mentor, friend and family member to ensure everyone was getting what they came for. Very diverse backgrounds of participants as well! Everything from yeshiva students to working class to well established professional. All in all, an unforgettable experience that can truly enrich anyone's life for the better! I came in curious and left with some life long friends, a deeper appreciation and knowledge for my "heritage". This is a worthwhile cause for anyone wanting to give and receive more!

nava_winkler

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had a great time at Heritage Retreats. The program was educational and inspirational with pleasant company and adventurous field trips on a daily basis. The teachers were accessible, knowledgeable and supportive. If you are interested in exploring your Jewish roots (at any level) and desire the resources to do so, i would warmly recommend Heritage Retreats. Don't stress, ask questions and enjoy the week.

Donor

Rating: 5

Heritage was an awesome trip that opened my life up to more learning and deeper thinking. I also feel like I have a community of people around me that share something that no one can understand but us. This is why I donate.

Client Served

Rating: 4

My experience on Heritage was fantastic! Coming from a very secular home I had no problem with fitting in. The tutors really take the time to listen to you either in a group or one on one. They can answer any question you could possibly have. It was very inspiring and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in going!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats has shown me a rich wisdom synthesized from thousands of years of scholarship and packed into the Jewish religion inside torah. It has connected me to my culture, community, and I have stayed in touch with new friends. It taught me ethical values, discernment, and decision making, instilled in me a greater love of learning, and found me teachers to help me understand how I can use wisdom to discern the most important ways to make an impact in the world. As a graduate student this program has provided wise paths in my future, and enabled me to better use my knowledge for a greater impact on human welfare. Since this program I continue to study Jewish Wisdom from the teachers of this program and highly recommend it for the 2012 Top Rated Award.

Elina S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was an amazing experience. The people were very nice. The environment was very relaxing and stimulating. The food delicious. I found myself on this trip. I am very greatful for everything they did.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to Heritage retreats to get away from the world, but I ended up finding myself because of it. Heritage retreats teaches an individual how to become a better person. I really appreciate the program for all it has done.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was very impressed by the effectiveness of the program. I attended as a mentor/volunteer. They did not pay for our airfare and instead asked the volunteers to cover that cost to keep as much as possible of the donations entirely devoted to helping the students. - The attendees seemed to feel very enriched and gained a lot from the program. Many committing to furthering their studies in a more formal setting. - It was truly amazing to see how much it affected everyone in a powerful way. - In summary: Well run organization - Amazing results.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

the week that I spent at Heritage Retreats was one of the best weeks of my life. Everything was amazing from the staff to the food to the atmosphere to the activities and the guys. the guys i met at heritage will remain my friends for the rest of my life. heritage feeds you both spiritually and physically. every morning started with interesting and exciting classes from down to earth relate-able teachers who will discuss any topic you might have. the afternoons are filled with all sorts of fun activities from surfing to golf to wine tasting and everything in between. Even though i was a mentor i still gained immensely from the program and had truly life altering changes for the better. i would definitely recommend this program to anyone. they cater to all people, beginner and expert. thank you so much heritage for changing my life

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is a very well-run program that brings together some of the brightest minds in Judaism with some of the most inquisitive students. It's inspiring to have such special Rabbis and staff give their time. I'm glad to have met everybody involved in the program, from all over the world. A great experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

heritage retreats is an amazing program. i was recruited in my school to go on the trip with these guys. they gave us an experience we will never forget. we got to hear incredibly insightful speeches on topics not usually discussed on a daily basis. they have really smart orators, who are engaging and very approachable so you can hear the speech and see the man in action applying what he teaches. those professionals are around the campus so one can form a lifelong relationship with men much wiser than ourselves. this program is a must for one beginning his search for spirituality. for not only are the speeches so informative but the program is so much fun. getting an education in surfing was exhilarating and professional golf lessons on a gorgeous golf course was awesome. and it doesn't end there, they are constantly making functions throughout the year to keep up the relationships that were formed. it seems as when one program is finished, i get a new email informing me of another! the boys come out of this program spiritually charged and with lives that will never be the same. inspired would be an understatement. i gained immensely as a mentor and would love to be involved with such a program forever. thank you heritage retreats.

Client Served

Rating: 4

As a young college student I found this program very insightful, very pleasant, and very beneficial with regards to my overall education. The speakers and discussions encompassed much more than learning, but rather more exploration, and the basis for becoming wise, which in my opinion is a strong foundation and a wealth of principles.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I attended Heritage Retreats I was hesitant due to past Jewish experiences. Upon the completion of my retreat I had a completely different perspective. I enjoyed the warmth, intention and lessons afforded to me at Heritage and was grateful for the time spent there. The classes were informative, the teachers interesting and the journey important to my personla growth. I would recommend this path to those who want to embrace their jewish identity, those who want inspiration and self actualization and welcome the amazing environment.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had a marvelous experience participating in the Heritage Retreats. It was two weeks of learning and bonding. My connection to Judaism grew and I also saw that the other participants gained tremendous amount as well. In fact, over the years following my experience on Heritage Retreats, I have encountered several other fellow participants. And I was deeply impressed to see how far they have grown as well. It is genuinely inspiring.

This is an organization worth support.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I didn't know what to expect. For weeks, I studied the website. Eventually, I decided to apply and prepared myself to spend one, long week in the wilderness with a group of Jewish women.

It wasn't summer camp and it wasn't school. It was a learning opportunity and a place to reset my religious biological clock. Each day, we met with a variety of world renown scholars and teachers, and carefully debated and learned about ideas ranging from sacred text to societal norms. As the week continued, I found myself excited for every class and every moment to interact with women from different backgrounds countries and observance levels.

Heritage Retreats surpassed my expectations. Instead of the traditional classroom/school setting, the teachers provided me with the enough tools for me to make my own decisions. In fact, the week was not long as I originally thought, but rather not long enough. Heritage Retreats gave me more than a weeks worth of memories. The other participants and have a special connection, and I value the contributions to my future as a Jewish woman.

Jesse E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Before this trip I was in a bit of an emotional funk. After one week, however, I found my life re-oriented in a far more positive and healthy direction than the one I would have gone down had I missed out. The particpants and instructors were so kind and helpful, and the backdrop so beautiful, that I found it very hard to not take the imparted lessons to heart. I would recommend this potentially life-changing trip to, literally, anyone.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program helped me learn more about my religion. Through the classes and activities, I learned ways of incorporating more aspects of Judaism into my life. Also, I learned how to become a better individual through understanding the Torah (holy scrolls). Since this was an all girls' trip, I was able to relate to others and bond with them. I felt like we were able to connect on multiple levels no matter our affiliation within Judaism. It was a wonderful week of developing our inner selves.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats program was a turning point in my life. The experience opened my eyes to a life that at that moment I realized that I was missing. It was a life of my grandparents, which was taken away from them by the Soviet Kommunist regime. I was introduced to the Jewish tradition of my ancestors. The spiritual fire in my grandparents that was extinguished by the kommunists, has been reignited in me. Heritage Retreats provided a friendly and a loving atmosphere for me to learn and interact with other fellow participants, to learn from them and about them. Through that experience I was able to make new friends and to create a foundation to build the rest of my life upon.

Tyler C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Looking back on the trip, I have nothing but fond memories. The quality of discussions led by the rabbis, the great mixture of guys from various parts of the world really made the trip, and the expeditions through some of the most beautiful landscapes were incredible. Food was great. I really appreciated our ability to explore on our own too.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience at Heritge Retreats was truly amazing. Everyone on the trip came from a different part of the country, yet we all seemed to get to know one another so well and have made friendships that will last. The topics that were taught we not only inspiring, but really touched our hearts. I felt re-connected to my Jewish roots and learned things frrom that basics, to really deep and spriritual subjects. The program was in an setting that made all the girls feel comfortable and relaxed. This created an enviornment that enabled us to be able to really focus on the material we were learning and the people around us we were connecting with. It was really a life changing and touching experience that I will always remember.

Brandon L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was first given the opportunity to attend Heritage Retreats in Santa Barbara, CA in December 2009. A last minute addition to the program, it really blew me away. What I thought was going to be a fun week long vacation in California turned out to be just that, and so much more. It was the perfect balance of fun and learning, but it was the people (both staff and program participants) that really made it amazing. It was so great, I even went back the next year!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Being a part of this program opened up a whole new world to me. I met great people and have been on a path of enriching my life as a result of what I have learned attending Heritage Retreats.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage retreats is an ideal setup for young adults to learn about their heritage in a relaxing and non-threatening environment. The teachers and warm and encouraging, the mentors, friendly and fun and the format enjoyable and pleasant. Anyone who experiences this retreat can consider themselves lucky.

Previous Stories
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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats provided me with a phenomenal learning experience that allowed me to grow as an individual while giving of myself to others. The program afforded many college age students to explore their heritage in a non judgmental, relaxing, and stress free environment. The location, directors, teachers, and participants all add to the amazing experience that we all shared.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is a one-of-a-kind program. I attended the program twice and it quite literally changed my life. The activities, the learning, the inspiring lectures - all had a profoundly positive impact on me. I have grown immensely in my own Jewish observance as a result of Heritage Retreats and now speak confidently with family, friends, colleagues, co-workers when they ask me questions about Judaism. Heritage Retreats has given me the gifts of awareness of and pride in my religion, and I am eternally grateful to them.

Rebekah M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended Heritage Retreats at the sincere advice of my Rabbi. I come from a Secular/Reform Jewish background and hadn't gotten the complete education I was looking for. So, as I got there, I met all the women who came from different educational and observant backgrounds. I was pleasantly surprised by the sincere acceptance if everyone. We studied Judaism from some of the best teachers I have ever had. I learned about the Book of Ruth, the Book of Shmuel, Breshis, Women's spiritual roles, and a number of other intense and incredible classes. And when our minds were spinning full of fascinating information, we would "take a break" and white water raft on a beautiful river by Lake Tahoe and hike through the beautiful paths. This trip inspired me to never stop learning, and now I'm currently in Israel studying at seminary, all thanks to the inspiration from Heritage Retreats.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended Heritage Retreats six months after 9/11 and in the midst of forming a new company. The two week spiritual retreat was what my soul needed and have become a better person for it. Laughter and finding humor is a Jewish tradition and we exercised this a great deal over the two weeks. Of course enhancing my knoweldge of the Jewish traditions with talmudic study only furthered the experience. Heritage Retreats is one of those little known organizations that makes a great influence on those who attend. Ten years later I am still recalling those lenghty discussions, compelling lectures, and of course all the fun.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i had the wonderful privelage to be a volunteer on the heritage retreats program in yosemite, ca this summer, and found it to be an incredible, possibly life-changing experience for everyone invloved. the program gave people from all areas of the USA an opportunity to come togethor and connect to their roots, and in the process connect to each other and gain potentially life long relationships. the significance of the heightened connection to our roots that all of us on the program have gained is clear already, and will only become more evident as time goes on, and we are able to find meaning in our lives, and the signifcance of the deep relationships that have been forged will only grow as everyone on the program knows they have a support group to count on moving forward in their lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats was an amazing opportunity for me to explore my Jewish roots, and learn in a supportive setting of motivated students and exceptional teachers. Camping and hiking while surrounded by the breathtaking scenery at Yosemite National Park provided a positive new experience to many of the students who were city dwellers, and also fostered camaraderie among the group. The wide range of personalities, backgrounds, and origins of the students and staff made for a very memorable experience, and forged friendships across the country. I request that Heritage Retreats is counted in the Education for All campaign.

Sincerely,

Russell Olesh, Educator

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage retreats went above and beyond in many aspects, and provided me with Jewish learning and discovery that would become a springboard for so much more.

First, top teachers from around the country (and the world) dedicated their time and energies to give thought-provoking, inspiring shiurim.

Second, the staff was warm and approachable. They initiated deep conversations, continuing the learning from the shiurim.

Third, the experience was set in a beautiful environment, and sprinkled with fun activities to facilitate meeting the other participants (some of whom I am still in touch with after several years).

The retreat leaders ensured that upon returning to my hometown, I would have contacts to continue my Jewish learning.

The retreat inspired me to spend a year in Israel learning. Since then, I have participated in a one-year, full-time Jewish fellowship, married my wonderful Jewish huband, and we are raising our beautiful baby boy in a vibrant Jewish home.

Sara M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had such a wonderful time at Hertiage. The teachers were phenomenal, and had time for all of our questions, whether in or out of class. Getting other girls who were more experiences to be our tutors and mentors really helped us continue learning, and most of all we had someone back home who we could relate to (since the tutors were generally from our state/area). The activities were also so much fun, and gave us an opportunity to hang out and grow closer. This week was so inspirational, and was definitely a catalyst in my learning and personal growth.

Ilana C.

Client Served

Rating: 5


If i could pick one experience that boosted my confidence, helped me get in touch with who I really am, inspire others and be inspired by others, it is Heritage Retreats. This program had incredible teachers that were open minded and wanted to help each individual grow. At the end of the program, everyone said what the experience meant to them. There was a person who got up the courage to get out of an abusive relationship she was in because of this program. There were people who felt like they finally knew who they were and what they wanted out of life.
Heritage Retreats changed my life and the lives of many others for the better.