About Eshel’s Mission and Activities

Our Mission

Eshel’s mission is to create community and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual,  and transgender Jews and their families in Orthodox communities.  Founded in June of 2010, Eshel provides hope and a future for Orthodox LGBT women, men, and teens. Eshel accomplishes its goals in a number of ways.  Eshel trains its members to speak out and act as advocates for LGBT Orthodox people and their families; Eshel creates bridges into Orthodox communities to foster understanding and support; through community gatherings Eshel helps LGBT Orthodox people pursue meaningful lives that encompass seemingly disparate identities while also fulfilling Jewish values around family, education, culture, and spirituality.  Over the past four years, Eshel’s work has gained national recognition and broad media coverage for its innovative mission and unique reach.

Our Projects

LGBT & Orthodox Community


During our weekend retreats, LGBT individuals experience a traditional Shabbat filled with davening, workshops, and leadership training programs.  For many, these weekends are the first time where all parts of who they are can co-exist in perfect harmony.  People make connections that they cannot make anywhere else.  For many, these weekends serve as spiritual lifelines where they can be who they are, meet others like them and create a community that extends beyond the weekend.  Join us for the National Eshel Shabbaton,  the midwest retreat and regional gatherings.  Learn more

Educational Initiatives and Eshel Speaker Bureau Training (ESB)


At Eshel we help create inclusive community in Orthodox settings.  The way we convey our message to traditional communities is through telling our stories, opening up hearts and minds to create a more inclusive environment.  These stories build understanding and an opening for more discussion.  We train participants and allies to share their stories with friends and family in the Orthodox world in the most effective way possible.  We also build allies wherever we go who are able to further our mission of  creating inclusive Orthodox community.  Learn more

Support for Orthodox and Traditional Parents of LGBT Children

Elana Altzman

Orthodox parents of LGBT children often face challenges similar to that of their children.  Some parents feel they have to “come out” to their rabbis and communities after learning about their children’s sexual and gender identity.   They fear being ostracized, sometimes they fear they cannot go back to their own synagogues and be open with their friends and communities.  In order to support parents so that they can continue to live their lives and be the best parents they can be, we run a phone-in peer led support group for Orthodox parents of LGBT children.   We also run a retreat for Orthodox parents and relatives.  Learn more

Please contact us.




Eshel is collecting stories for an Online Oral History project that focuses on the struggles and triumphs of being a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Orthodox person.  Help us ensure that our stories are told!

Stories may be submitted in written form, audio or video formats.  For more details and how to participate, please write to Miryam Kabakov at miryamkabakov@gmail.com.