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NuRoots’ Passover Exodus in the Desert

“This year we wanted to provide an opportunity, after years of isolation and virtual community, to come together in the flesh,” Chelsea Snyder, director of NuRoots’ Community Building, told the Journal.
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April 13, 2022
Trybal Gatherings

After two years of virtual Passovers, NuRoots is going back to basics for this year’s Collective Escape. From April 22 to 24, about 75 “wanderers,” ages 21 through 30-something, will descend upon Cuyama, CA, for three days of gritty Passover magic.

“This year we wanted to provide an opportunity, after years of isolation and virtual community, to come together in the flesh,” Chelsea Snyder, director of NuRoots’ Community Building, told the Journal. “Cuyama Valley means ‘Valley of Enchantment.’ That is what we hope to build: a community of enchantment, wonder and ritual.

NuRoots is the young adult engagement initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, mobilizing young adults to build a meaningful community and reimagine Jewish life through creative experiences. 

And what’s more creative than a weekend in the desert that corresponds with the end of Passover?

“Our choose-your-own-adventure experience will be a mix of small-group electives and large-group programming, so there’s a chance to really get to know people and also feel like you are part of something bigger,” Snyder said. 

There will be glamping huts, nourishing meals, creative workshops, festive Shabbat and Havdalah experiences, campfires and even a Moroccan Mimouna.  

“Mimouna is a traditional festival celebrated by Moroccan Jews at nightfall on the last day of Passover,” Snyder said. “It’s the start of the spring season, and a time to celebrate friendship, luck and good fortune. We will celebrate on our last night [with] music, dancing and brilliant food.” 

Collective Escape’s mission is to physically get back to that starting point – the desert, nature – for a personal and communal exodus. Each new season brings the opportunity to gather, renew old friendships and make new ones.

“This is a ritualized holiday of the human spirit with a chance to cleanse, rejoice, celebrate and become in beautiful ways.”  – Chelsea Snyder

“This is a ritualized holiday of the human spirit with a chance to cleanse, rejoice, celebrate and become in beautiful ways,” Snyder said. “We remix and reinterpret the ancient Passover story and give it a real present-day feel. During Collective Escape, we encourage participants to be part of it. We will examine where we are enslaved both personally and collectively and we will forge a path to freedom.” 

Collective Escape started in 2016 as a pop-up Passover experience with music, storytelling, arts, mixology and meditation. It has evolved over the years to offer reimagined experiences and gatherings, such as seders, salons and workshops. In addition to Passover, NuRoots reimagines Jewish holidays ranging from Sukkot and the High Holy Days to Tu B’Av and Hanukkah.  

More than anything, Snyder is thrilled to be back in person. 

“We have seen with our monthly offerings the energy in the air as young adults come together in community,” Snyder said. “The laughs, the hugs, the ‘can’t wait to see you at the next gathering’ means more to us than we ever knew. We are excited and building off the joy and high demand for meaningful gathering.”  

After two years of Zoom encounters, this year’s NuRoots experience was many moons in the making. 

“The opportunity to be able to hold space for our young adult community in a unique immersive way is radically exciting,” Snyder said. “This immersive weekend represents collective freedom, our freedom as a community, our freedom of self and an enduring understanding for what is possible.”

Learn more: NuRoots.org/collectiveescape.

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