National Jewish Retreat Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the retreat located?

The 9th annual Sinai Scholars National retreat will take place over 5 days, August 6-10, 2014 at the luxurious Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, IL.

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What are the accommodations like?

Our Beginnings

The story of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton is one of romance and undeniable charm.

Potter Palmer was a Chicago business magnate—well-known for a variety of endeavors, including his significant role in the development of downtown Chicago’s iconic State Street.

Bertha Honore, 23 years Potter’s junior, was a wealthy socialite who also had a drive to learn and succeed.

An introduction by Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field, sparked a romance—and eventual engagement—between Potter and Bertha that led to perhaps one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time – Palmer House. It was a grand Chicago Hotel—one destined to take its place among the most luxurious hotels in Chicago and beyond.

However, only 13 days after its grand opening, the Palmer House fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire. But that didn’t deter Potter. Determined to rebuild his hotel, Potter secured a $1.7 million loan–negotiated on his signature alone. On November 8, 1873, the new Palmer House welcomed its first guests, marking the opening of what would become the nation’s longest continually operating hotel.

The Brushstrokes of Bertha

Shortly after befriending Claude Monet in France, Bertha Palmer began decorating the Palmer House with paintings and other pieces inspired by her French heritage. She eventually accumulated the largest collection of impressionist art outside of France. The Palmer House was bedecked with garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany masterpieces, and a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The fresco was described by columnist George Will as “a wonderful protest of romance against the everydayness of life.”

A House of Stars

By the turn of the century, the Palmer House had become Chicago’s liveliest social center, hosting a long list of prominent figures—including those ranging from U.S. presidents to Charles Dickens to Oscar Wilde.

In 1933, the Golden Empire Dining Room of Palmer House was converted into an entertainment epicenter. It hosted legendary entertainers, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong, and Liberace.

The Neverending Legend

In recent years the historic Chicago hotel, Palmer House has undergone a $170 million renovation to ensure that it includes all of the conveniences and comforts our 21st century guests expect while also preserving our significant history.

Clearly “the Chicago hotel the world knows best” has positioned itself for the next era in downtown Chicago accommodations–and the next generation of Palmer House Hilton with a hip and historic outlook.

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How much does the weekend cost?

A fully refundable $250 deposit is required upon your acceptance in order to reserve your room at the resort. The deposit is refunded to you as soon as you arrive at the retreat so you will not have to carry the balance. The rest is on us!

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What does the scholarship include?

The Sinai Scholars Retreat, including program costs, room and board, is being offered free of charge to a limited number of students on each campus.

The Sinai Scholar Scholarship includes all meals, accommodations, interactive workshops, and exhilarating recreation in a world class resort, a value over $1700!

Travel provisions will be compensated up to $200 based on eligibility.

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When do I get my travel reimbursement?

You are authorized to make travel arrangements up to $200.00 which will be reimbursed up to 6-8 weeks after you return from the Retreat based on eligibility. For reimbursement please forward your itinerary to:

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What is your cancellation policy?

Sinai Scholars Society will pay to reserve rooms for students requesting to join us for this retreat. Hence, we will incur a loss for students who fail to arrive. Therefore, students must submit card information which will be on hold until your arrival at the Retreat.  Failure to attend will result in a $250 charge.

Applicants have until June 15, 2014 to cancel reservations.  Cancelations must be received via email sent to

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When should I plan to arrive?

Plan your travel to arrive at the Retreat on Wednesday, August 6th by 3:00pm. Arrival after that time may result in forfeiture of your deposit and reimbursement of travel expenses.

To better help us coordinate the student arrivals and for reimbursement please forward your itinerary to

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  • Sinai Scholars Academic Symposium - April 19, 2015 - University of Pennsylvania
  • Sinai Scholars National Jewish Retreat - August 2015 - Location coming soon