The Eshel National LGBTQ+ Retreat is back in person
and we are so excited to see you again!
Friday January 13 – Sunday January 15
Falls Village, CT
In honor of our B*Mitzvah year, we’re celebrating changes and progress! Join us in imagining a bright future for LGBTQ+ Orthodox+ people. We’ll make space to reflect on the past, present, and future of this journey for us and our community. We will come together to learn, celebrate Shabbat, and reconnect.
This opportunity was unreal! Keep rocking it out and doing this, because there are so many people who need it. Thank you so much for creating this space and for enabling me to be a part of it.
It was a transformative experience. I feel like I really internalized and accepted in a more complete way than I did before that being LGBTQ are ways of being in the world.
For some of us, this is the only opportunity to step out in the sun and spend…one Shabbos a year in our truth…Thank you to all who made this retreat more accessible…For some, it’s pikuach nefesh.
I felt fully comfortable in Shul for the first time in a long while. A tremendously moving experience. Made me realize what it was like to be accepted – and to have my child accepted – by the kehilla.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is this retreat for me?
- What will happen this weekend?
- What COVID precautions will be in place?
- What does Isabella Freedman Retreat Center offer?
- Where is the retreat? How do I get there?
- When should I arrive?
- What are the rooming options?
- What does the cost include?
- What financial aid is available?
- What is the cancellation policy?
Whether you are out and proud or still figuring out your LGBTQ identity, this is the place for you. We strive to make this a judgement-free space for learning and personal growth. We only ask that each attendee agree to respect other participants’ feelings and attitudes. Each person is on their own journey, which includes many detours, twists, and turns. Come with an open mind and remember that everyone’s path is unique.
Queer or LGBTQ+ adults and families are welcome. Children’s programming will be provided throughout many parts of the retreat.
We all have our own unique Jewish journeys. This is a space for those who are committed to or see themselves in communities of traditional Jewish observance. We welcome participants of all backgrounds, including Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, Chassidic, Sephardi, traditional, formerly Orthodox, and Ortho-curious.
We take confidentiality very seriously. All participants must agree and sign Eshel’s confidentiality policy. Retreat attendees may not disclose the identity of anyone else without explicit permission. Participants can only share what they hear at the retreat with an individual’s permission.
At our annual national retreat, the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews, we spend Shabbat getting to know each other, davening, learning, singing, shmoozing, and relaxing. On Saturday night, we let loose and have fun together! Sunday provides more opportunities to learn together, including some unique activities! Past offerings have included text studies such as “Leviticus through the Looking Glass,” “Gender Transformations in Rabbininc Literature,” as well as safrut, rainbow candle making, and “Sensuality and the Sacred in 1900 Queer Jewish Writing.” Throughout the retreat, you’ll be part of a small chaburah group to discuss and process each step of the journey.
We welcome proposals for sessions from participants. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Eshel prioritizes the health and safety of our community. We are closely monitoring CDC recommendations, local health authority, and COVID data.
Vaccines reduce the risks of COVID-19. We strongly encourage all retreat participants to ensure that they are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including the bivalent booster. If you are not vaccinated, you will be required to take a rapid test on-site before entering the retreat. We recommend that all participants take a rapid test before leaving home to keep everyone safe.
If you feel sick, we ask that you stay home. If you develop any signs of illness or test positive while at the conference, you will be asked to isolate yourself from other conference participants.
- Beautiful indoor and outdoor gathering spaces
- Delicious, sustainable, and glatt kosher food under supervision of the Hartford Kashrut Commission
- Shomer Shabbat environment in beautiful surroundings
- A commitment to sustainability through energy efficiency, food justice, animal welfare, and supporting healthy ecosystems
- Conveniently located within 2.5 hours of New York and Boston
- A shuttle service from the nearest Metro North station
The retreat will be held at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031. Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense. Upon registering, you will be invited to join a WhatsApp group for attendees. Feel free to post in the WhatsApp group to coordinate a carpool to the retreat.
Additionally, a shuttle service will be offered from the Wassaic Metro North Station on Friday and Sunday.
For more directions and transportation information, please visit the Isabella Freedman website.
Plan to arrive at Isabella Freedman at or after 2pm on Friday afternoon. Candle lighting will be at 4:26 pm.
Retreat attendees can opt for a private, double, or triple room.
Dormitory Rooms: Elm and Kaufmann
Dormitory rooms have either two twins or a bunk and a twin, and shared hall bathrooms.
Basic Rooms: Cedar, Blue Heron, and Maple
Basic rooms have either a queen bed, two twin beds or a queen and a twin bed. A limited number of queen-sized beds are available. Bathrooms are shared by two rooms.
Standard Rooms: Scheuer and Pine
Standard rooms have private bathrooms. Most rooms have a queen-sized bed and one twin, with a few rooms having three twins.
Deluxe Rooms: Weinberg and May
Deluxe rooms have private bathrooms. Most rooms have a queen-sized bed and one twin, with a few rooms having a three twins. These are our most spacious and modern rooms.
The price of the retreat is all-inclusive and covers the full program, housing, all meals, unlimited snacks, and ranges from $300 to $850. It does not include transportation to or from the retreat center.
The Deadline for financial aid applications is passed. However, payment plans are available to all retreat participants. Email email@example.com to request a payment plan.
Eshel is committed to increasing access to our National Retreat for those with limited means. We offer our lowest housing tier – dormitory housing – at a rate that is already subsidized. Thanks to our generous donors, we are able to help more folks attend our retreats by allowing them to choose the housing price point that works for them. For some, attending the National Retreat may require some sacrifice – choosing to cut back on other discretionary spending such as going out to dinner, buying coffee, or paying for entertainment. We believe the transformative experience of the national retreat is worthwhile. For others, attending the cost of attending the National Retreat may present a hardship if it would make it difficult to put food on the table, pay rent, or pay for transportation to work. If attending the national retreat would present a hardship for you, please complete our financial aid application.
The deadline to apply for financial aid is November 18. Financial aid recipients will be notified on a rolling basis – you can expect to hear from us within 5 business days. Once you receive notice of your financial aid amount, you will have one week to register for the retreat, so that we can ensure a fair distribution of our available funds.
Cancellations prior to December 12, 2022 are eligible for a full refund minus a $50 processing fee. Cancellations after December 12 will be eligible for a credit of 75% towards a future Eshel retreat.