Temple Israel is hosting a special guest during its April First Friday weekend: Cantor Ellen Dreskin, an innovative leader in the Reform Judaism movement and the Coordinator of the
Cantorial Certification Program at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR in New York, who will be leading the Shabbat service Friday night before joining members of the congregation Saturday morning at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City for a two-day prayer workshop.

“I enjoy worshiping and celebrating with new communities, and helping communities discover ways in which Judaism can make a positive difference in their lives, and thereby make a positive difference in the world,” Cantor Dreskin said.

On Saturday, Cantor Dreskin, who is on the road once every six weeks with different congregations, will lead a morning service she calls, Worship with the Wires Exposed, a service “filled with explanations and inspiration, designed to give one spiritual tools for approaching meaningful worship in today’s world.”

After lunch, Cantor Dreskin will conduct an afternoon session entitled God Shopping, “an activity that invites participants to explore myriad Jewish ideas about God, and clarify what they find most challenging, comforting, or relevant to their lives today.”

Congregants will also have free time in the afternoon to simply enjoy the nature around them, whether they’d like to read a book outdoors or go on a hike with the clergy, before coming together again for dinner at 6:30 p.m., which will be followed by a Havdalah service filled with stories and songs.

Cantor Dreskin will lead morning prayers at 8 a.m. Sunday for those who want to wake early. Breakfast will follow at 9 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to noon, Cantor Dreskin will teach A (very!) Brief Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, during which she will discuss Kabbalistic and Hasidic texts “designed to shed a small, mystical spotlight on creation, Torah, God and Jewish living for today.”

Registration is open for those who would like to take part in this spiritual, relaxing weekend. The cost is $215 for a single-occupancy room and $260 per person for a double. This includes food, the room and speakers’ fees.

The retreat, originally scheduled for two nights at the Lied Lodge, was changed to one so that more people could enjoy Cantor Dreskin at the First Friday service.

To register, contact Program Director Wendy Goldberg at wgoldberg@templeisraelomaha.com.

“I consider an experience successful if I am able to leave congregants with teachings, melodies, or insights that they can continue to grow with and explore on their own,” Cantor Dreskin said.