Eshel’s BeisCamp

The Real Modern Family:

Biblical Characters

in a Whole New Light


Eshel’s itinerant Beit Midrash is a series of shiurim (classes) about Biblical personalities from Sarah to David to God. In this series, through a careful and close reading of the texts we will discover hidden and silenced voices. Pesia Soloveichik, Aaron Harmelech, Yiscah Smith and Rabbi Steve Greenberg will guide us through biblical and rabbinic sources. Program is free of charge ALL ARE INVITED! Allies, friends, LGBTQ folks and family!


PesiaMoshe, God and the Jews: When a Love Triangle Could Use a Little More Love

Taught by Pesia Soloveichik

Wednesday, June 3

7:30-9 pm

YM & YWHA of Washington Heights/Inwood

54 Nagle Avenue New York, NY 10040  (the Dyckman Street stop on the 1 train or the 190th Street stop on the A train)

Moshe in many ways is a tragic figure. Forced into a leadership role he never wanted, his energy is focused on mediating between the Jewish people and God. The text describes Moshe’s personal interactions and emotional relationships with two figures: God and Yitro. We will compare and contrast these relationships and use them to discuss the interplay between power, intimacy, and independence in our own lives.


Great conversation, good learning, yummy dinner and more….! 

Allies encouraged!

Please RSVP to


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BeisCamp is Eshel’s LGBTQ affirmative itinerant Beit Midrash and is supported by a micro-grant from the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal (COJIR) of the UJA-Federation of New York.


Past Classes:

Lonely God of Faith

Taught by Pesia Soloveichik

Monarch, Parent, Lover.  Our liturgy describes God’s relationship with us in different ways.  But why does God want a relationship with human beings?  Does God benefit from the relationship, and how does God respond to the imperfection of mortals?  Does God’s relationship with human beings change over time?  In this session, we will explore God as a character in several narratives in Tanakh, including the Flood and Jonah.  We will discuss how God’s evolving relationship with us can teach us about our relationship with others.

Sarah Eemaynu: The Laughing Princess

Taught by Rabbi Steve Greenberg

Sarah is the foremother of the Jewish people.  Her identity is full of ambiguities.  The Talmud describes her as a princess of her people, and a princess to the world; the mother of all born Jews and the matriarch of all converts.   She orchestrates Abraham’s second marriage and then banishes both mother and child.  According to the midrash, even her gender (and that of Abraham too) may be ambiguous.  Join us as we explore the nuanced legacy of Sarah, our foremother.


Taught by Pesia Soloveichik

There are many similarities between Lot and his uncle, Avraham.  They both receive God’s help in dangerous situations, welcome strangers into their homes, and are willing to hand over a daughter or wife to have sex with other men.  Why is Lot often viewed as “bad” while Avraham is viewed as “good?”  Join us as we explore our assumptions about Lot and Avraham and the line between good and bad.

Rivkah: Scared Little Girl or Great Communicator

Taught by Aarom Harmelech

Our introduction to Rivkah seems unambiguous – she literally falls off her camel at the sight of her future husband, Yitzchak.  Was she afraid of him?  Their pattern of communication around their two sons seems to indicate so.  Or was there a deeper wisdom at work?  How do we read into silence and separation in our relationships.  Are they toxic or possibly the basis for something deeper?  An exploration into the relationship dynamics of our second Eim and Av (mother and father).

Inside Out! The Redemptive Dynamic of the Secret and the Revealed 

Taught by Rabbi Steve Greenberg

Why do the rabbis love Purim? Purim is a holiday that celebrates the power of secrets and their revelation, in effect, a holiday of coming out. Esther’s secret turns out to be only one of many secrets whose unraveling moves the narrative forward. What is this play between the revealed and the hidden about? We will read passages from the Megilah for its rich literary resonances, theological complexities and the surprisingly modern theme of self-revelation.

Getting to know you

Taught by Yiscah Smith

An understanding heart—isn’t that an oxymoron? Not all of us see ourselves as emotional people. Do YOU see yourself as an emotional person? We will examine the divine nature of our feelings, the importance in their expression, and how we awaken to that part of our soul.   This session will be based on the teachings of Rav Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira – the Piaseczner Rebbe and the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto

Our Teachers

Aaron Harmelech’s career in Jewish education spans over fifteen years and includes positions teaching children, adolescents and adults in both classroom and informal settings.  When teaching he always strives to help others connect to the most basic meaning of the text being studied, building a personal connection to the Torah. He is also a clinical social worker in private practice, focusing on issues of sexuality, addiction and family well-being.

PesiaPesia Soloveichik teaches Rabbinics at Solomon Schechter High School of Westchester.  She has previously taught Talmud at SAR High School in Riverdale and has led classes at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel and Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.  She completed the Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Studies at Yeshiva University and earned an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania.


Steve-Greenberg1Rabbi Steven Greenberg has worked with communities around the world to make Orthodox Judaism more inclusive of gays and lesbians.  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. Steve is one of the founding Co-Directors of Eshel and serves on the faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Steve is also a Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.


Yiscah Smith photo

Yiscah Smith is a renowned Jewish educator, spiritual mentor, and author, both in Jerusalem and abroad. Yiscah’s life has been an inspiring and courageous journey of the joy and struggles of her own spirituality, gender identity, and commitment to living a life of authenticity. She recently published her memoir, Forty Years in the Wilderness: My Journey to Authentic Living. Yiscah lives in the magical Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot. She teaches classes in Jerusalem and online on the inner meanings of both classical and contemporary Jewish texts, emphasizing the Torah’s spiritual insights. In her private practice, Yiscah provides spiritual mentoring to individuals.