Jack Drescher, M.D. is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in a private practice as well as a clinical professor in the areas of Sexuality and Gender Identity. Authoring a number of relevant volumes such as, “Homosexuality, Gay and Lesbian Identities, and Homosexual Behavior” and “Gender Identity, Gender Variance and Gender Dysphoria,” Dr. Drescher is the foremost expert and speaker on issues concerning LGBT individuals and their families. His expert views have been sought and quoted by Reuters, Time, Newsweek, People, Esquire, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and numerous other media outlets. Learn more about Dr. Drescher on his website.
Rabbi Haim Ovadia is currently the rabbi at Magen David Sephardic Congregation-Beit Eliahu (MDSCBE), a modern Orthodox Synagogue located in Rockville, Maryland. Born in Israel, Rabbi Haim Ovadia received his Semicha in 1991 from Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu after studying rabbinics at the Shehebar Sephardic Center. Rabbi Ovadia served as a hazan and assistant Rabbi at Communidad Hebrea Sefaradi de Bogota in Bogota, Columbia until 1996. In the same year he received a degree in Judaic studies in Bar-Ilan University before coming to the United States where he served as assistant Rabbi in Magen David in West Deal from 1997-99. He was associate rabbi at Beth Torah in Brooklyn until 2001. Rabbi Ovadia also has a Masters Degree from UCLA in Hebrew literature.
Rena Fruchter is an artist and educator living in Maryland. Her work brings about powerful and transformative creative experiences for students of all ages. She believes that the collective creative process can foster dialogue in unique and important ways. In this spirit, her current project, Big Picture Mosaics (www.bigpicturemosaics.com) allows groups of people to collaborate on large-scale mosaic works that encourage conversation, celebration and healing. Big Picture Mosaics workshops have taken place in social work programs, retreats, mikvahs, senior centers and schools. Rena and her husband Chaim have four grown children who are all working creatively, in the literary, musical and puppetry arts and in the rabbinate, to make the world a better place. Rena holds a B.S. in Art Education from the University of Maryland and an M.A. from George Washington University in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts.
Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein (Sunnie) is a well known Jewish educator who has worked in many venues and around many topics of Jewish Learning as well as education in general. Within that work, Sunnie has always been an advocate for inclusion of all members of our Jewish community, including our LGBT members, and has taught extensively about that inclusion from a Jewish text informed perspective. Sunnie and her husband Ken are also the parents of four amazing children,two of whom happen to be gay.
Abby Stein is an American transgender activist, blogger, and speaker. She is the first openly transgender woman from a Hasidic community, and is a direct descendant of Hasidic Judaism’s founder the Baal Shem Tov. Abby is also the first openly transgender woman to have been ordained by an Orthodox institution (before her transition), having received her rabbinical degree in 2012, from an Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic school.
Rabbi Steve Greenberg works part-time as Eshel’s co-director and part-time faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is the author of the groundbreaking book, Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004), which won the Koret Book Award for Philosophy and Thought. He lives with his partner Steven Goldstein and his daughter Amalia in Boston.
Chavie Weisberger grew up in a Chassidic community in Monsey, NY. She is a queer single mother of 3 delightful children. A member of the Eshel community since 2012, Chavie runs groups and assists with special projects. She concurrently serves as Community Engagement Associate at Footsteps – a non-profit where she works towards building a network of those who have made the transition out of ultra-Orthodoxy and are looking to be connected with the other like-minded individuals.
Is this for me?
Whether you are accepting of your LGBT child or struggling with their identity, or somewhere in between, this is the place for you. No judgments will be made about any retreat participant’s levels of acceptance of their LGBT child. We only ask that each attendee agree to respect other participants’ feelings and attitudes.
What will happen at this weekend?
We will create a comfortable place to share.
Sessions will address having an LGBT child in Orthodox families and the communities of which we are a part. See below for the learning opportunities.
Where will it be?
Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp
159 Empire Road
Copake, NY 12516
Phone: (518) 329-3303
Berkshire Hills is located a couple of hours outside of NYC.
For getting to the retreat site on your own, please visit the retreat website to find out information about train, airplane and car travel to and from the retreat center. Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense. Have a ride? Need a ride? Let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org