Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

Stephan Rechtschaffen: The History of Camp Boiberik

2 years 4 months ago

The property Omega purchased for its home had been abandoned after its previous incarnation, Camp Boiberik, had closed in 1979. Boiberik was a Yiddish cultural camp founded by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute, an organization devoted to Jewish education in New York City and the metropolitan region. (Sholom Aleichem is one Yiddish literature's most beloved authors. Born in Russia in 1859 as Solomon Rabinovitz, he died in New York in 1916. He created many memorable characters, including Tevye, a character who appeared in the adaptation of his work in Fiddler on the Roof.)

Boiberik was established to imbue Jewish children with "the educational values of wholesome fun, recreation and cooperative living" and to give campers a "consciousness of Jewish belonging and have the feelings arising there from translated into meaningful activities," according to its founding director Leibush Lehrer, who died in 1964 (although one of the campers remembers singing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and "Roll Me Over in the Clover"). The camp was named Boiberik after a mythical summer place referred to in one of Sholem Aleichem's stories. The folk institute bought the Rhinebeck property, which had also been a camp, in 1923.

Today, several of the buildings from that first camp remain—the main hall, the dining hall, many of the cabins, most of the dorms at the northeast corner of the campus, and many of the smaller classrooms—although all of them have been renovated and updated. In 1998, Omega hosted a reunion of some 200 former Boiberik campers, and some of them occasionally come to Omega to take workshops.

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Skip Backus: OCSL Presentation at the Living Green Symposium

2 years 4 months ago

Omega Instutite's CEO, Skip Backus discusses how Omega decided to handle the problem of water management while reducing our carbon footprint on campus by created the LEED-certified Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL).

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Permaculture Homesteading: How To Live Off the Grid While Staying Connected

2 years 4 months ago

The confluence of peak oil, loss of biodiversity, and widespread pollution from carbon-based industries all point to the growing need for an alternative to our way of living. Using natural, scientifically based approaches, the worldwide permaculture movement addresses these issues to develop a healthy, vibrant, more sustainable model we can all use—right at home.

During this 5-day workshop, leading permaculture teacher Andrew Faust shows us how to live off the grid, while staying connected to our communities and the world. We learn to:

  • Turn our home, farm, or cabin into a self-sufficient, low-energy-use, off-the-grid dwelling
  • Use natural energy supplies like passive solar and gravity-fed water systems
  • Detox our home and clean indoor air with plants
  • Develop organic, biodynamic, and biointensive home and rooftop gardening techniques
  • Turn wastes into resources with gray-water sumps, composting for home and garden, and eco-outhouses


What's in a Name? The Meaning Behind "Omega"

2 years 4 months ago

Why call it Omega? Elizabeth Lesser shares the significance and meaning behind the name based on the works of the Teilhard de Chardin.

People often ask us about the significance of Omega’s name. Our name was chosen from the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, a visionary Jesuit priest, scientist, and philosopher. Born in France in 1881, he served as a stretcher-bearer for four years on the frontlines of World War I, studied and taught paleontology and biology, and received his doctorate from the Sorbonne. His interest in evolutionary science troubled his Jesuit superiors who banished him to China for 22 years. During those years he became an expert on Asian paleontology and was among the discoverers of the Peking man. Forbidden by the church to publish, his posthumously published books marry science and religion, technology and ecology, and psychology and spirituality. Teilhard’s interest in the unity of all thought, faiths, and cultures inspired us in the early days of conceiving Omega Institute.

Teilhard believed that humans and the Earth itself are moving toward a state of planetary unity ruled by the power of love—what he called “the Omega point.” “The day will come, he wrote, “when after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Late in life, Teilhard de Chardin was sent by his superiors to live in New York. He died suddenly, on Easter day in 1955, and was buried on the grounds of a forgotten Jesuit monastery on the banks of the Hudson River, far from his native Paris. When we found the property that is now Omega’s Rhinebeck campus, we had no idea that we would discover, just miles down the road, the gravesite of the man from whose writings we had taken our name. It is one of those wonderful synchronicities that Teilhard de Chardin would have found meaningful.

Earth Day Celebration with Oakwood Friends School

2 years 4 months ago

In honor of Earth Day, students from Oakwood Friends School helped out in the garden and took a tour of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, one of the greenest buildings in America.

Loung Ung: Authors of Our Lives

2 years 5 months ago

Loung Ung, a survivor of the killing fields of Cambodia, reveals what it takes to heal from trauma and rewrite your history.

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Carla Goldstein Speaks at Women, Power, and Peace: Leadership in a New World

2 years 5 months ago

Omega Institute's chief external affairs officer and director of the Omega Women's Leadership Center, Carla Goldstein took part in a panel presentation for Women, Power, and Peace: Leadership in a New World at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

“Leadership should not be an imitation art. Women have the opportunity to lead humanity in a new direction. It’s time to say that power should be used to build a world that works for everybody…As Omega cofounder Elizabeth Lesser says, ‘We need to take love out of the closet and bring it along for the power ride.’” --Carla Goldstein

Reciprocity Foundation's Retreat at Omega

2 years 5 months ago

Nonprofits are increasingly unable to find adequate resources to respond to the growing needs of society’s most vulnerable populations. Omega is committed to serving those who serve others through our annual Service Week grant program.

Each spring, we award grants to nonprofit organizations—small and large, local and global—to come to our campus for working retreats that support and strengthen each organization’s ability to serve the community.

In 2011, the Reciprocity Foundation was one of the grant recipients. An organization dedicated to helping youth overcome homelessness, isolation, trauma, and hopelessness, Reciprocity brought 5 young men and women to Omega for a 3-day retreat in order to shift their belief in what was possible. This moving video was their way of saying thanks.

Omega Service Week grants are by invitation only and include accommodations, meals, a private meeting space, use of our facilities, and one hour of free managerial consultation with our Service Week partner, the New York Council of Nonprofits. In 2012, more than 20 nonprofit organizations with a focus on either working with young women and girls, or providing safety-net services in the Hudson Valley are expected to participate in Service Week.

For more information about Service Week, contact Marta Szabo at

To support Omega Service Week and help those who help others, contact

Omega to Celebrate Achievements of Women in International Women's Day Global Celebration

2 years 6 months ago

 “Join Me On The Bridge” Events Planned at Brooklyn Bridge & Walkway Over the Hudson

 RHINEBECK, NY– Held annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political, and social achievements of women around the world. Omega Institute today announced that it will join two of Women for Women International’s 3rd annual, Join Me On the Bridge events. Carla Goldstein, director of the Omega Women's Leadership Center, will be speaking at the Brooklyn Bridge event, which is sponsored by What BETTER Looks Like. Omega staff will participate in a solidarity walk across the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie,New York, which is sponsored by the Women's Leadership Alliance of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“For more than three decades Omega has been providing interdisciplinary opportunities for women’s growth and development in all aspects and at all stages of life. Over the past 35 years, Omega has seen more than 600,000 women come through its doors. We are proud to show our support for women by joining in these events,” said Goldstein. “Today is both a celebration and a call for action. Women around the world, fromRwanda toNew York City, will stand together and speak out for a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world for everybody.”

The first International Women's Day took place in 1911, more than 100 years ago. The theme for 2012 is connecting girls, inspiring futures. In 2012 the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, best known for its annual Women and Power conferences, will offer two programs aimed specifically at helping women and girls advance. This year’s Leaders In Service for Women and Girls will support nonprofit organizations serving women and girls’ needs and interests. Omega’s Young Women and Girls Collaborative will support the development of future leaders by cultivating the strength of young women and girls through its leadership training program.

To register for one of Women for Women International's Join Me On the Bridge events, visit To register for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce's event at Walkway Over the Hudson, visit

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 195 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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OWLC Global Scholars Spotlight: Mel O'Gorman

2 years 6 months ago

The Omega Women’s Leadership global scholarship program connects us to global women leaders who are actively engaged in creating a more just world. One of our recent scholars, Mel O'Gorman, is the founder of Shingiririai Trust, a grassroots community organization in Zimbabwe that delivers psychosocial support for orphans and vulnerable children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Mel reports that recently more than 175 children graduated from the Shingirirai Early Childhood program and that "the appreciation from the community is translating into more financial support, and that the program is now on its way to becoming self-sufficient." Mel hopes to return to Omega one day. We are honored and grateful for the opportunity to offer our support to such an amazing woman and, through her and Shingiririai Trust, to the families and communities in Zimbabwe.

Learn more about our Global Change Scholars program.