11th Annual Eshel Parent Retreat | March 28-31, 2024, Pearlstone Retreat Center, Reisesterstown, MD
As a parent of an LGBTQ+ child, do you:
  • Need support as you adjust to the changes that accompany having an LGBTQ+ child?
  • Worry about their safety and health?
  • Think about which school, camp, Israel program will be a good fit for your child?
  • Wonder if and how they will live a fulfilled Orthodox life? 
  • Feel concerned that your child will be alone?
  • Want them to find a Jewish community where they will be comfortable?
  • Envision a place where you can voice these concerns, hopes and dreams?
  • Wish there was a place to meet other Orthodox parents with LGBTQ+ children?

Join us at Eshel’s Parent Retreat to explore these questions and get support from other parents and professionals.

Whether you have just learned that your child is LGBTQ+ or you’ve known for years, Eshel is with you EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!

Featured Speakers

Rabbi Hyim ShafnerRabbi Hyim Shafner is the Rabbi of Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, in Washington D.C.  Previously he served as Rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri, as Rabbi of the Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis, and as the Rabbi of India for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  He has Rabbinical ordination, an MSW in social work, and an MA in Jewish philosophy, from Yeshiva University and trained as a psychotherapist at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.  Rabbi Shafner is the author of The Everything Jewish Wedding Book and has published widely in an array of Jewish journals, periodicals and books.


Rabbi Shua BrickRabbi Shua Brick is the Director of Family Learning at the Beth Jacob Congregation of Oakland, and Jewish Studies Faculty at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay. Originally from West Hempstead, New York, Shua is a Wexner Graduate Fellow who received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva University, where he went for high school and undergrad, as well as pursued a dual masters in Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Education. He was recently featured in the Forward as one of the first openly gay congregational rabbis at an Orthodox synagogue.


Ari SussweinAri Susswein is an out gay man who is the president of the Prospect Heights Shul In Brooklyn. He works in real estate in New York City and just launched his own spicy lemonade company. He grew up in Riverdale and went to SAR.

Maharat Rori Picker NeissMaharat Rori Picker Neiss is the Senior Vice President for Community Relations at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the mother of a trans 12-year old son. She is one of the first graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a pioneering institution training Orthodox Jewish women to be spiritual leaders and halakhic authorities. Rori is a David Hartman Center fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders fellow, and co-editor of “InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook.” She is married to Russel Neiss, a Software Engineer for Sefaria, and they have three children.


Motti SalzbergMotti Salzberg formerly worked in Jewish education with both adults and children, for over twenty years.  For the past seven years he has been working full time as a clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of sexual trauma in the Chassidic community.  He lives in Maplewood, NJ with his husband, dog and whichever of his four grown children from his first marriage are in need of a port in the storm of early adulthood.  His is also, surprisingly, given his history as a closeted Orthodox Rabbi and the aftermath of coming out, a very active member in the Maplewood Jewish Center, an Orthodox, Chabad shul that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to welcoming LGBT members into their community.

Highlights of the Annual Parent Retreat Include:

  • Spirited Shabbat davening
  • Thought-provoking sessions led by Rabbis, community leaders, doctors, social workers, and educators
  • Chaburah groups for processing and sharing
  • Beautiful and relaxing natural environment
  • Delicious, organic meals
  • Warm, welcoming community of parents
Two Women Smiling at the Parent Retreat

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are accepting of your LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ child’s identity. We only ask that each attendee agree to respect other participants’ feelings and attitudes.

Each parent and family is on their own journey, which is unique and comes with different challenges and joys at every step. Come with an open mind and remember that everyone’s path is different.

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.

We will create a comfortable, confidential place to share. Sessions will touch on a variety of topics – previous highlights have included panels and workshops on language, mental health, dating and marriage, extended family, as well as navigating shuls and schools. We will share Shabbat davening and meals together. Throughout the weekend, parents will take part in a small chaburah group, providing an opportunity to check in and process what we are learning and experiencing.

Weather permitting, we will offer outdoor walks on Pearlstone’s gorgeous hiking trails, as well as sports, and yoga.

Pearlstone Retreat Center is located in Reisterstown, Maryland, about a half hour northwest of Baltimore. BWI airport is a 40 minute drive away, and Penn Station, Batlimore is a 30 minute drive.

Pearlstone Retreat Center offers a relaxing space, inspiring natural surroundings, and farm-to-table, organic meals under OU supervision.

Some of their amenities include:

  • a 3-mile nature hike trail
  • outdoor swimming pools
  • a beautiful lake
  • basketball and volleyball courts
  • newly renovated fitness room
  • outdoor fire pit

You should plan to arrive between 3 and 5 pm on Thursday. Mincha will be at 5:15pm and the first session will begin at 6pm. Early or late arrival can be coordinated; email info@eshelonline.org to arrange. The program will conclude no later than 1 pm on Sunday.

If you’d like to set up a payment plan in order to pay for the retreat in installments, please email sara@eshelonline.org. If you are in need of further assistance in order to be able to attend the retreat, please email miryam@eshelonline.org.

Register for the Eshel Parent Retreat

Thursday, March 28 – Sunday, March 31 | Pearlstone Retreat Center

All-Inclusive | 3 days and 3 nights of programming, lodging, and meals

$700 per person, double occupancy

$950 per person, single occupancy

$1400 per couple

Early Bird Discount – 10% off through January 1! Discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

Parents at table