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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

This is a truly wonderful program where Jews of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to learn more about their Jewish heritage.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a practicing litigation attorney, it was challenging for me to take the time off necessary for me to participate in the Heritage Retreats program. However, I made the necessary arrangements, and can honestly say that it was life changing and one of greatest adventures I have ever been invited to participate in. From an educational aspect, the faculty who staffed the trip I attended were all, literally, leaders and world class experts in their respective fields. I learned a great from the various classes offered, and remain in close contact with many of the teachers to this day, some of whom even made special arrangements to attend my recent wedding. In terms of the excursion, there options sufficient to satisfy even the most adventurous among us. Heritage Retreats is an excellent program administered by a highly trained and experience group of individuals who possess the skill and ability to effectively touch their target audience. As an alumnus, I have become a financial supporter of their efforts, and highly encourages to do so as well.

1

Donor

Rating: 4

Most charitable organizations deal with physical, medical, or social needs. Heritage Retreats deals with souls; that is, it rescues and motivates - for a lifetime - young souls that are drifting away from their Judaic roots and may be lost altogether. Rabbi Kreitenberg, a visionary and doer, is an inspiring leader that has devoted his life to helping young college students understand, appreciate, enjoy and return to the religion of their forefathers. It is a task of a high order and he feels greatly saddened when he has to turn away applicants because funds are not available to include them in existing programs. If you feel that saving a Jewish soul is a worthy task Heritage Retreats should be part of your charitable giving.

Former staff

Rating: 5

As an administrator for Heritage Retreats for a few years, it was my privilege to be a part of this organization. There are many wonderful nonprofit organizations, but Heritage Retreats is much more than that. The staff and volunteers are truly altruistic. They dedicate, literally, thousands of hours in preparation and actual time at the retreat to ensure the highest quality educational and experiential retreat for its students. The reward for this hard labor is in seeing the students personal growth in addition to their enhanced understanding and appreciation of their timeless heritage. The cultural divide that exists between the various students dissipates in just moments at the start of each program. Stereotypes fall away and friendship and camaraderie hold sway. I recommend this program for any Jewish student or young professional that is passionate about their Judaism and would like to learn more about their religion.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am truly impressed with the organization. The students who attend the program gather tremoundous amounts of information in a warm surrounding environment. When the student leaves the program they have the knowledge to continue with their pursuit of their own religion. They are able to implement what they learned in our society that we live in. It is a great feeling to see people return to their faith that has existed for thousands of years.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was not aware of Heritage retreats until I worked for them as a guide on one of their trips. I was totally impressed with their dedication, professionalism and expertise in teaching young jewish adults about their faith and culture. Young men who had never met, had fun, bonded, and learned together, forming what will probably be lifelong relationships with each other and their culture. Rabbi Krietenberg and his staff are truly passionate about what they're doing and it shows.

Client Served

Rating: 4

Heritage Retreat really gave me an opportunity to connect in a real tangible way to Judaism on a very high level. It also created an amazing bonding and learning experience between girls from all different areas and backgrounds of Judaism. It was a big blast, we were learning but there were enough fun activities that it felt a little like camp. i would highly recommend it.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

For the past several years we have been a contributor to Heritage Retreats. I have personally visited their summer program in Southern California several times. I have found it to be an excellent program where the participants, whom I have interacted with, have always told me how much they have learned and the lifelong relationships they have formed have contributed to their lives. I have found Rabbi Kreitenberg to be an excellent teacher and administrator. I fully intend to continue supporting this program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is a one of a kind organization. It all starts with it's founder, Rabbi Mordechai Kreitenberg, and his incredible devotion for the organization. The organization helps bring young Jews to their roots and to learn the beauty of Judaism. Without Heritage Retreats, many young Jews would be heading in the wrong direction. I give the organization my highest level of respect, not only for the role it played on my life, but for the positive change it has created in each student to have attended.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Two years ago, I attended a Heritage retreat in Northern California. I did not know what to expect as I am not a religious Jew. From the first moment, I was greeted by a group of staff, fellow attendees and volunteers with respect and understanding. I was not judged and I was not proselytized to. Soon we became friends, immersed in learning about Judaism and the Jewish way of life. I attended classes with teachers who were at once caring and intellectual. I had many questions for them and they patiently took the time to answer. They made me feel welcome. They made we feel as if I was part of a big family. They made me proud to be a Jew. I can not say that I was converted into a religious Jew - I was not. But, I can say that I am proud to have a group of people who are smart and caring and know how to have fun. Many of the relationships that developed at the retreat have continued to develop into lasting friendships.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A splendid Jewish Enlightenment Program for men to return to their roots and understand the meaning of Judaism. Some of the most memorable speakers were R. Keleman, and R.Gershenfeld who were able to connect the secular knowledge and understanding and weave Jewish thought into the minds of so many. The program was nestled in the most serendipitous 100 + acres in Santa Barbara, close to NEVER NEVERLAND of Michael Jackson -- a place where one can be at peace with himself, and focus on the spiritual. Most positive memories.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The ability to learn and grow in my Jewish heritage along side people with a diverse group of backgrounds who all had a passion to explore within was truly amazing. The comeraderie between all the participants in this short retreat is truly amazing. I would recommend Heritage Retreats to others.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreat program enriches the lives of the students and gives them meaning to life. They come back with knowledge what Judaism is, combining out door activity with learning.They refer other students because they told me this is the best progrm they attended.One student of many that I talked to said "before coming to this program surfing was my first priority, but now since I attended the Heritage Retreat Judaism is my first priority,learning is second and surfing is last."

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is one of the most unique and innovative programs for connecting young Jews to their heritage. It provides the ultimate "Learn hard, Play hard" experience by combining great outdoor activities with engaging lectures and group learning. People who never met feel like brothers after a week at Heritage Retreats, and when they leave, they not only bring new friends with them, but a whole new relationship with Judaism and religion in general.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn, reflect, create relationships with fantastic, inspired teachers, ask questions, and find truth that really resonated with me. The activities were fantastic, from sea-kayaking, to ropes course, to bicycling on the beach, and afforded the group the opportunity to truly bond. Some of my closest friends today are from Heritage Retreats. The quality people on the program, coupled with extraordinary leadership, made the program one that I enjoy attending at every opportunity. At Heritage Retreats, the program is well-run and organized, and there is tremendous attention to detail and care for each of the participants. From the welcome packages on our beds when we arrived, to the heartfelt goodbyes and Shabbat package takeaways…no small thing was left unnoticed. To date, I’ve attended four Heritage Retreat programs, and am looking forward to the next one.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went on a whim and was extremely surprised. I have never made good friends so easily in my life. I connected with a number of very cool young women. I had never studied Torah before, but the high quality of the program design allowed me to learn more Torah in a short period of time than I could have imagined, yet there was also a good amount of time for fun and socializing. Another great thing about the program- the food was great. I encourage anyone with any interest in Judaism to go.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats changed my life! They welcomed me in with open arms and even flew me to california when i could not afford to pay. they did the same for my boyfriend, to attend the mens program, who also could not afford the cost. from the moment i got there the inspiration began. the location in the mountains of california offered a remote place removed from the confusion of secular life. things became clear. the facility was beautiful! i have been to other places, that were run down and without basic plumbing. heritage was like a ski lodge. with beautiful lounges, classrooms, and dorms. and the grounds, with the many fields and trails, lend themselves perfectly to the experience of self evaluation and discovery. but the real jewel at heritage is the community that forms. there are the teachers, the rabbis, and the madrichot all there to impart wisdom and understanding on the students. never have i met a more compassionate and patient group of people who give of themselves and expect nothing in return. the classes are eye opening and changed my view of the world forever. i saw truth and got clarity on the purpose of life. i made life long friends whom i am still in contact with to this day. i have been invited back, and if it were not for the constraints of my job, i would have gone without hesitation. there could be no better charity in my opinion.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came as a tutor to the Heritage Retreat and was amazed by what was accomplished there. In just one week 25 Jewish women were given the core principles of Judaism. Classes were given everyday and fun activities were offered where tutors and students were able to get to know eachother, have fun together, and learn from eachother. The teachers on the trip gave over enlightening classes which enabled the students to understand their Judaism on a deeper level. It was truly amazing to see the transformation in the way these women saw their Judaism. I thank the Heritage Retreat staff for being able to be a part of the experienc and hope that more Jewish women will be able to enjoy this opportunity as well.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is the number one program for someone looking to explore their jewish heritage. The staff is outstanding and the facilities are beautiful. The students get the opportunity to study about their heritage in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The result is that all participants leave with a wonderful and positive experience.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Definitely a must for college students and young professionals who are looking to expand and strengthen their own jewish roots.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I had a very positive experience on my Heritage Retreats trip in the winter of 2007. It was incredibly worthwhile endeavor in which I gained much wisdom about Judaism from the many talented rabbi's and other participants on the trip. There was a wide range of people on the trip and the activities planned ensured that there would be something of interest for everyone. If you are on an outdoors type of person this is an even better trip as there are many opportunities for great competition on the athletic fields in addition to the great hikes and potential beautiful scenary. Perhaps it is this environment that helps you engage in such meaningful and exciting discussions or perhaps it is the fact that we are taking a break from our busy lives to get together (even as a group of strangers - at first) and talk about things that really matter. This trip will help you find who you are and what it is important to you. This trip is a true get-away, both physically and meta-physically and it will stick with me for the rest of my life.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats had a profound effect on my life as well as the lives of many of my friends. The experience is so powerful that even those of us who were not on the same retreat feel a connection of the experience when we meet. Heritage Retreats is changing lives by helping people live more positively, purposefully, and therefore fulfilled lives.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I came to Heritage somewhat in turmoil. I had started to wander down a path toward observant Judaism, but I really wondered if it would it be possible to maintain my sense of self and individuality while making a commitment to learn more about my faith and integrate Torah into my life? Could I still be a feminist, a liberal, a social activist AND an observant Jew? Heritage was a wonderful forum to address my questions. The environment really fostered growth and candid discussion. I was able to ask my questions, even those that bordered or crossed clearly over into the heretical, without feeling judged or belittled, and when the answer was not entirely to my liking, I was directed to books and authors who might offer me a different perspective. No, the retreat did not erase every qualm I hold about a Torah-observant lifestyle, but it did fortify my commitment to integrate Torah into my life, introduce me to a wonderful community of people, and give me the spiritual energy to continue to grow, to learn, and to feel wonderfully proud to be a Jew.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats was an amazing experience--for a week of deep connection and learning, exploring Jewish roots and identity from an honest open and supportive place and forging lasting friendships--a summer to remember!

8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My experience with the Heritage Retreats was the most rewarding one. Thanks to this society, I lead a Kosher home, raise a child in a very Jewish way and most importantly, lead a Kosher married life with my woderful husband. THANKS Heritage Retreats!

11

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats was one of the most amazing, inspirational, and growth inspiring experiences. I had the opportunity to learn with very knowledgeable teachers and peers. When I attended, I was trying to grow in my Judaism, and Heritage Retreats provided a safe place for me to ask questions, explore, and really learn. It was incredible!

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats was a great program that I attended in the summer. They have incredible speakers, fun activities, kind madrichot, and great learning. Women are exposed to Judaism and the many interesting topics encompassed in it. Some of the enjoyable activities we participated in was challah baking, swimming, basketball, and the several captivating shuirs we heard. There were great feelings of repour with the bonding and closeness created with our mentors. We were all girls trying to learn and grow and despite our seemingly differences in location of living we all experienced a oneness as we got to know each other and due to our common goal. We were extremely blessed to have top speakers to hear from and ask questions to. This was a fabulous summer program that I feel that any girl looking for expanding her horizon's on life and forming great friendships would definitely desire to attend.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Very positive. The classes were insightful and detailed. The instructors were warm and caring, and provided a lot of positive motivation.

15

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was a shiduch between Hashem and I - Heritage Retreats made it happen by bringing me to be aware of my creator, allowing me to see my identity as Jew, as a future Jewish mother and wife, as a Jewish soul.

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

After dating my fiance for only a few months, it come aparent we had very different religious opinions, outlooks, knowledge, needs and wants. I went on this retreat to help me learn more about Judaism and look deeper inside of me. The retreat was very difficult at times and I even wanted to leave a few times as well. Nevertheless, I stuck through it and left inspired and ready to live up to being Jewish. My fiance and I are now married with two kids,a kosher home and are working hard at becoming fully observant.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is a unique and innovative program that gives unafilliated young adults an opportunity to learn more about their roots. To me the extraordinary aspect of this Nonprofit is two-fold; the success that the tutors and educators have in developing long lasting bonds with the students, and the sheer volume of inspirational education that takes place in such a short period of time.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heritage Retreats is a wonderful non-profit organization that gives Jewish professionals the opportunity to discover their roots.As a volunteer on one of their famous summer retreats, I was given the opportunity to connect with other people my age for a fun, meaningful, and informative getaway. We shared great times together, heard from amazing orators, and thoroughly enjoyed one another's presence. The friendships and bonds that we initiated on the retreat will last a lifetime. I truly feel that both the participants and the volunteers come out of the retreat with a much clearer view on Judaism and are inspired to be better people who are ambitious in attaining their goals and aspiriations both professionally and spiritually! Thank you for giving me the chance to be part of this incredible organization!

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I didn't know much about Heritage Retreats when I decided to venture off to California, but my experience far surpassed any pre-conceived notions I ever could have imagined. The program was so well-planned that I really got to make the most out of the 7 day retreat. From the moment I arrived, I knew I was in the right place. The beautiful scenery, warm camraderie and excellent teachers helped me to take a step back and re-examine my life and where I am heading and where I want to be. The amazing people I met and inspiring classes have made a tremendous impact on my life. There really aren't words to thank the staff and participants of Heritage Retreats for the wonderful experience I had and the inspiration that continues to live on.

12

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to this retreat sort of at the last minuite, and to this day I am glad that I did. Not only were the staff superb in terms of their knowledge, but their interest in each atendee was genuine, and lasted long after the one week we spent together. The tutors were fantastic, as were _all_ the girls on the trip. We bonded, exchanged ideas, learnt about ourselves and each other, and got some of the best Jewish education, some in the classroom, most of it outside the classroom.

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

The ten days that I spent on the program were incredibly uplifting. Heritage allowed us to get away from the hustle-bustle of everyday life, and take some time to think. Although there were people coming from literally all over the Jewish spectrum, by the end of the program, there grew a love and respect for each other. It was a program that allowed for personal growth with the ability to choose wisely based on intellect and emotion.