The Revadim project offers cancer support retreats for women, based on the Commonweal model successfully implemented in the United States for the past four decades. The goal of the program is to help participants live better, and where possible, longer lives. The retreat program seeks to meet the needs of people with cancer including finding balanced information on choices in healing, exploring emotional and spiritual dimensions of cancer, discovering that illness can sometimes lead to a richer and fuller life, and experiencing genuine community with others facing a cancer diagnosis.
The model integrates tools adapted from yoga and psychotherapy
The Revadim project was conceived by the late Odelia Levy Ettinger, as part of her quest for cancer support resources. She discovered the Commonweal Center near San Francisco and was profoundly impacted. Odelia returned from the Commonweal retreat with a resolve to bring it to Israel.
Unfortunately, time ran out on Odelia and she passed away in 2012. Her husband, Aviad Ettinger, and her brother, Zahal Levi, continued the initiative and with the help of. Ideas emerged, and different setups were tried out in different places. Zahal eventually opted out, but without his initial involvement and contribution, the project might never have materialized. For this, we are deeply grateful.
Shay Teitelbaum and Sagit Shiran who joined the project, Revadim has taken off. Shay and Sagit have contributed to Revadim generously in the memory of their mother, Dvora Teitelbaum. Dr. Teitelbaum was one of the developers of Copaxone, a drug used to treat Multiple Sclerosis. She died from cancer in 2008.
The Revadim project has evolved and taken shape. The retreat program has been adapted to local needs and is now held in two tracks – a full five-day retreat and a modified three-day one. The retreats take place in a beautiful retreat center at the Sisters of Zion Monastery in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. Participants are led by a team consisting of a psychologist, a yoga teacher, a masseuse, a dietician, and a body-image therapist. Meals form an important part of the retreat and is organic food and vegetarian. All accommodations are private-rooms with en suite bathroom and shower. This allows an optimal balance between group experience and opportunities for privacy and rest.
With the help of Commonweal, we have also launched a support group initiative within the community, called Healing Circles. The circles are designed for women with cancer who wish to share their experience with others in similar circumstances. Using tools from the psychotherapy and yoga, the Circles, facilitated by a mental health professional and a yoga teacher, engage in a group exploration of what it means to live with cancer.