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Eshel National Retreat 2022
January 14 at 3:45 pm - January 16 at 4:30 pm
Countdown to the 2022 National LGBTQ Retreat!
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm
Batya Levine will lead us is in a musical Kabbalat Shabbat before shabbat begins.
Melaveh Malka, Game, and Movie Night
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Games led by Eshel Toronto
8:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Queer Jewish Film Making with Jeremy Borison and Raye Schiller
Two filmmakers will discuss Jewish queer filmmaking and then share their own projects, a film and a TV series, currently in production.
10:30 pm – 11:30 pm
9:00 am – 10:00 am
Option 1: Rabbi Abby Stein
Back by popular demand, Rabbi Abby Stein will teach “Finding Your Place in the Text.”
Option 2: Study Preparation for the Shiur with Rabbi Yitz Greenberg
Rabbi Steve Greenberg will begin with a short limmud of a few key biblical and rabbinic texts to prepare us all for Rav Yitz’s Shiur.
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Orthodox Philosopher, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg takes on LGBTQ Inclusion
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg will share his expansive portrayal of covenantal sexuality.
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Option 1: Bein Hashmashot: Non-Binary Jews Share Their Stories
Joshua Avishur will moderate a conversation with Laynie Soloman and Ben Baader
Option 2: Queer Artist Roundtable
A conversation with Rachie Lewis (writer), Arielle Tonkin (visual artist), Anthony Russell (musical artist), and Joy Ladin (poet) on the sources of their creative energies.
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
A highlight at every Eshel National Retreat, these small group breakouts give us the opportunity to go deeper, to share highlights of our lives, meet new people, and give each other support and comfort in what we call “Chaburah Groups.”
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Eshel is in the north, south, east, and west. We will hear presentations of queer traditional Jewish life…somewhere else. Miryam Kabakov will moderate a conversation with Simcha Pollard in Laramie, Jeremy Rodoler in Philly, and Reuven Grant in Ashville.
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
A Journey Toward Leadership
A recently ordained rabbi shares his journey out of the closet.
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Batya Levine (they/she) uses song as a tool for cultivating healing and resilience in their work as a communal song leader, musician, shaliach tzibur (Jewish prayer leader), and cultural organizer. They believe in the liberatory power of song to untie what is bound within us and sustain us as we build a more just and beautiful world. Batya is a founding core team member of Let My People Sing! and is a Cultural Organizer with Linke Fligl. She offers song, ritual, and workshops in a variety of communities, and composes original music made of Ashkenazi yearning, queer heart-medicine, and emunah (faith/trust). Batya recently released her first album, Karov. Learn more at www.batyalevine.com
Jeremy Borison is a director and writer. He has participated in various programs that explore art and religious identities, as an Asylum Arts Fellow, a writer for JerusalemU, and a participant of Start South. His most recent film, ‘Boxes,’ premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival and won multiple awards. He is currently in production on the feature film ‘Unspoken,’ exploring the intersections between Modern Orthodoxy, queer identity, and the Holocaust. Jeremy also co-leads the Orthodox LGBTQ programming at JQ International.
Raye Schiller (they/she) is a writer, performer, and engineer. Their screenplay Out Again was awarded semi-finalist in the WeScreenplay 2022 Diverse Voices competition and made the CoverFly Red List. Their day job is Lead Engineer at TargetSmart, a political data company. Occasionally you can find them performing standup at their local open mic. They hold a B.A. in Digital Media from Hunter College and M.Eng. in Computer Science from Cornell.
Abby Chava Stein is an American transgender author, activist, blogger, speaker, and rabbi. She is the first openly transgender woman raised in a Hasidic community and is a direct descendant of the Baal Shem Tov. In 2015, she founded the first nationwide support group for trans people of Orthodox Jewish backgrounds. In 2020 she published a beautifully written memoir of her journey, Becoming Eve.
Rabbi Steven Greenberg is the Founding Director of Eshel, an educator, writer and speaker who has led the call for LGBTQ inclusion in the Orthodox world. He is the author of Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, (University of Wisconsin Press) for which he won the Koret Jewish Book Award for Philosophy and Thought in 2005.
Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg will share the evolution of his thoughts on human sexuality and gender. He is a leading Jewish thinker and has written extensively on Jewish religious thought, pluralism, and the ethics of Jewish power. He was the rabbi of Riverdale Jewish Center in the 1960’s, a professor and chairman of the Department of Jewish Studies of City College of the City University of New York in the 1970s, and the founder of CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. In the words of historian Steven Katz, ‘No Jewish thinker has had a greater impact on the American Jewish Community in the last two decades than Irving (Yitz) Greenberg.”
Laynie Soloman is the Associate Rosh Yeshiva at SVARA: A traditionally Radical Yeshiva. They are a passionate teacher of Jewish text and thought, who believes deeply in the power of Talmud study as a healing and liberatory spiritual practice, and they have been teaching for almost a decade in a wide range of communal spaces.
Benjamin M. Baader is Associate Professor of European history, Jewish history, and gender studies at the University of Manitoba, Canada. He transitioned about 20 years ago, yet thinks of his gender as shimmering with indeterminacy. Ben was involved in some of the early Eshel retreats and is excited to become more involved again.
Author of the acclaimed Queer Mystery Novel, The Rabbi Who Played with Fire, Rachel Sharona Lewis plays with themes from Kemelman’s 1960’s mystery series, updating it with her central character, Rabbi Vivian, a lesbian rabbi. Her art is playful and engrossing, while rooted unpreachingly in social justice sentiments. Rachie has worked in Boston’s JCRC to engage synagogues in campaigns focused on gun violence prevention, affordable housing, and increasing investment in renewable energy. More recently, she has been working to engage our community to support and accompany our immigrant neighbors.
Arielle Tonkin (they/she) is an artist, educator, and a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 2017) based in Berkeley, CA. Arielle’s artwork, rooted in painting and social practice, centers intra-faith and interfaith healing through exhibitions, performances, and workshops. As a mixed Ashkenazi/Sephardi and Arab Jewish teen growing up in the Hudson Valley, NY, Arielle co-founded a Muslim-Jewish dialogue project and learned that arts and cultural programming supported relationships grounded in dignity.
Anthony Russell is a vocalist, composer, and arranger specializing in Yiddish song. His work in traditional Ashkenazi Jewish musical forms led to an exploration of his own roots through the research, arrangement, and performance of a hundred years of African American roots music, resulting in the album Convergence (2018). In 2017, Anthony teamed up with accordionist and pianist Dmitri Gaskin to win the Concorso Internacional de Canciones en Idish (Der Idisher Idol) in Mexico City, eventually forming a duo, Tsvey Brider (“Two Brothers”), for the composition and performance of new songs in the Yiddish language.
Joy Ladin is an English professor and a poet. She became the first openly transgender employee of Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution. Joy has published numerous poetry collections. Ladin is also the author of a memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012). Ladin is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Hadassah Brandeis Research Fellowship, two Forward Fives awards, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholarship. Ladin teaches at the Stern College of Yeshiva University, where she holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English.