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Shabbat Shira FAQs

I am considering coming for the first time. Will I fit in?

Shabbat Shira strives to be a nurturing and welcoming community built on the inclusive spirit of the best of communal singing and worship. One of the core values of our programming is to honor tradition while actively seeking out new voices, new ideas, and new ways of building community. Each year many participants are first-timers. Will you fit in? Yes! It's our mission.


What is rooming like?

All of the accommodations on camp are shared, unless you opt for single occupancy.  Many two-person rooms have their own bathrooms and some accommodations have a shared bathroom per hall.  


What should I pack? 

OSRUI will provide linens, a blanket, pillow and towels. You should bring your own toiletries, a flashlight, instrument (optional), warm clothes for the evenings (which get cool in October), raincoat/winter coat and boots. Dress at camp is casual, though if you’d like to dress a little nicer, Shabbat is that time - Friday evening and Shabbat morning —though please no heels or need for suit and tie, we are still at camp!


You will sometimes need to walk on grass and some gravel paths may be bumpy; bring comfortable shoes. Some other items you may want are a reusable water bottle (we will have refill stations all over camp), a recording device (though voice memos on your phone work very well), external battery for keeping your phone charged, and lots of layers for the crisp October air.


*For some, a tradition has evolved to wear a flannel shirt on Friday during the day. This is not mandatory, but something fun that has evolved and we want you to be aware of this. 


We begin Thursday October 26th at 4pm, and conclude around 11:30am Sunday October 29th. It’s just over an hour ride to the Milwaukee Airport (MKE), and about an hour and 45 minutes to Chicago O'hare. We suggest making airline reservations after 2:00pm. Of course, if you need to leave early, we will understand!


We have information about ground transportation. There is a shuttle service called GoRightWay where you can reserve a car, or a small van for multiple passengers. The vans require a single person to reserve, and then you are responsible for filling the seats. 


We have created a Google Sheet to help you find people to carpool or share vans with. You will receive email information with instructions about this sheet.



As you are packing, please check the weather in advance, the zip code of the camp is 53066. We encourage packing layers and be prepared for cool weather.

How do courses work?

A general outline is on the main page, and we will soon provide a program page with more detailed information, which will grow as our program content is finalized over the next months. Generally, the days are made up of a series of courses, some longer than others, on wide ranging topics focused on music education, composition, worship, and repertoire.  Our teachers and participants bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, teaching both the techniques of leading singing, as well as the spirit and the intention to create meaningful and powerful singing and prayer opportunities for your community.


Are there prayer experiences?  

Each day there will be at least one and sometimes two opportunities for communal worship. We sometimes pray as a full community, and at other times offer multiple choices in a given prayer block so that you may go where your heart leads you, or experience a worship style that will be helpful in your own work.


What kind of materials and resources are shared?

While much of the music at Shabbat Shira is shared live without sheet music, often it is provided - if not on site, then later via cloud-based storage access.  Different teachers utilize different strategies in their teaching.  Some provide materials during the course; others make it available to download and save.  Regardless, participants will have access to the materials from the courses they take, as well as repertoire and content from all the prayer experiences, full group singing, and repertoire sessions at the conclusion of the conference.


Can we record sessions?

We encourage everyone to bring an audio recording device or prepare to record to your phone or tablet.  We encourage you to capture audio recordings for your own learning - to remember when you return home, or to be able to take some of the wonderful sounds of the group singing together home with you.  We also know that many people like to video record their friends, teachers, and wonderful moments while at Shabbat Shira. 


We do request that you try to be present as much as possible during the conference, and work as a community to be aware of how your actions impact others around you. Please do not hold up your phone to video record and block others’ view or become so preoccupied with making an audio recording that you miss out on what’s happening in the room.  


Is there Wi-Fi on camp?

There is Wi-Fi on camp.  It can be spotty; so, if there are materials we’d like you to have when you arrive, we will let you know in advance and invite you to download them. And while we try to make it as easy as possible for you to get online, call home and connect to the “outside world” while you are at camp, please be patient if and when the Wi-Fi is slow. The camp is remote, and hundreds of people will be using Wi-Fi at the same time!


What is “Open-Mic”?

Late night programming (from the end of evening programs until midnight or 1am) is one of the favorite times at Shabbat Shira. "Open-Mic" is participant-led opportunities over two nights for folks to share original songs, covers, skits, group numbers with friends - the most talented writers, singers, and musicians are part of our community and this is the time to share your gifts as well as support and cheer on the whole community.  


What are meals like?

Meals are buffet style in a large dining room. Participants sit where they like, and sometimes conversations or topics are guided at certain tables during certain meals. Kashrut Practice: OSRUI uses only certified Kosher meat and does not mix milk with meat. You can expect that no milk or milk derivatives will be used at a meat meal. We do not use separate dishes, cutlery, or serving pieces. A vegetarian option is also available at no extra charge.


What is the weather/is there a lot of walking?

We encourage you to check out the packing list when you prepare for Shabbat Shira. The weather can be cool in fall, especially at night, and it may rain or snow. Some of the program spaces are warm, others are cool. Bring layers!  The areas of camp we use for programming are mostly on a flat surface with paved roads between the housing and program buildings. While we are occasionally outside, we make sure every location is accessible and everyone is comfortable. The camp is beautiful, and the chance to be outdoors, to sit and write a song with a friend, or get to know another in an open trusting environment is one of the hallmarks of Shabbat Shira, different from many other conferences.

How much does Shabbat Shira 2023 cost?

Depending on the building and rooming you select on camp, the cost ranges from $650 - $850. This includes your housing, all meals, all program materials, on camp staff, kitchen, maintenance support, as well as ensuring that our dynamic and creative teachers are fairly-compensated. 

You are responsible for your own transportation costs. We will let you know about ground transporation from airports in the fall.

Can teens attend?

Participants must be 18 years of age or older when Shabbat Shira begins.  We are unable to accommodate younger teens because we would need counseling staff for legality of coverage on camp. 


If we cannot attend will any of the content be made available virtually?

Due to the limited resources of camp and Sing Unto God, we are not streaming any aspect of the program, and the individual classes will not be recorded. Part of the mission of Sing Unto God is to widen the access to the learning and meaingful content by providing year-round programming, so stay tuned for more opportunities if you are unable to attend.

Sing Unto God also offers the Hava Nashira Songleader Conference in May every year.

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Photos by Susan Shane-Linder and Aydin Mayers

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