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Retreat for Parents of LGBTQ Children

May 4, 2017 - May 7, 2017

Orthodox parents of LGBT children at parent retreat

May 5-7th, 2017

Living happy, healthy, and holy lives for ourselves and our children

For parents of LGBTQ+ children in Orthodox community.register
Join a growing and vibrant parent community. Meet parents just like you!”

To register, go here!

Meet a few of our guest speakers:

Jack Drescher, M.D. is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in a private practice as well as a clinical professor in the areas of Sexuality and Gender Identity. Authoring a number of relevant volumes such as, “Homosexuality, Gay and Lesbian Identities, and Homosexual Behavior” and “Gender Identity, Gender Variance and Gender Dysphoria,” Dr. Drescher is the foremost expert and speaker on issues concerning LGBT individuals and their families. His expert views have been sought and quoted by Reuters, Time, Newsweek, People, Esquire, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and numerous other media outlets. Learn more about Dr. Drescher on his website.


Rabbi Haim Ovadia is currently the rabbi at Magen David Sephardic Congregation-Beit Eliahu (MDSCBE), a modern Orthodox Synagogue located in Rockville, Maryland. Born in Israel, Rabbi Haim Ovadia received his Semicha in 1991 from Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu after studying rabbinics at the Shehebar Sephardic Center. Rabbi Ovadia served as a hazan and assistant Rabbi at Communidad Hebrea Sefaradi de Bogota in Bogota, Columbia until 1996. In the same year he received a degree in Judaic studies in Bar-Ilan University before coming to the United States where he served as assistant Rabbi in Magen David in West Deal from 1997-99. He was associate rabbi at Beth Torah in Brooklyn until 2001.  Rabbi Ovadia also has a Masters Degree from UCLA in Hebrew literature.

Rena Fruchter Eshel parent retreat

Rena Fruchter is an artist and educator living in Maryland. Her work brings about powerful and transformative creative experiences for students of all ages. She believes that the collective creative process can foster dialogue in unique and important ways. In this spirit, her current project, Big Picture Mosaics (www.bigpicturemosaics.com) allows groups of people to collaborate on large-scale mosaic works that encourage conversation, celebration and healing. Big Picture Mosaics workshops have taken place in social work programs, retreats, mikvahs, senior centers and schools.  Rena and her husband Chaim have four grown children who are all working creatively, in the literary, musical and puppetry arts and in the rabbinate, to make the world a better place.  Rena holds a B.S. in Art Education from the University of Maryland and an M.A. from George Washington University in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts.

Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein (Sunnie) is a well known Jewish educator who has worked in many venues and around many topics of Jewish Learning as well as education in general.  Within that work, Sunnie has always been an advocate for inclusion of all members of our Jewish community, including our LGBT members, and has taught extensively about that inclusion from a Jewish text informed perspective.   Sunnie and her husband Ken are also the parents of four amazing children,two of whom happen to be gay.


Abby Stein is an American transgender activist, blogger, and speaker. She is the first openly transgender woman from a Hasidic community, and is a direct descendant of Hasidic Judaism’s founder the Baal Shem Tov.    Abby is also the first openly transgender woman to have been ordained by an Orthodox institution (before her transition), having received her rabbinical degree in 2012, from an Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic school.

Rabbi Steve Greenberg works part-time as Eshel’s co-director and part-time faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.  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.  He lives with his partner Steven Goldstein and his daughter Amalia in Boston.

Chavie Weisberger grew up in a Chassidic community in Monsey, NY. She is a queer single mother of 3 delightful children. A member of the Eshel community since 2012, Chavie runs groups and assists with special projects. She concurrently serves as Community Engagement Associate at Footsteps – a non-profit where she works towards building a network of those who have made the transition out of ultra-Orthodoxy and are looking to be connected with the other like-minded individuals.

Is this for me?

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

What will happen at this weekend?
We will create a comfortable place to share.
Sessions will address having an LGBT child in Orthodox families and the communities of which we are a part.  See below for the learning opportunities.

Where will it be?
Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp
159 Empire Road
Copake, NY 12516
Phone: (518) 329-3303

Getting there:

Berkshire Hills is located a couple of hours outside of NYC.

For getting to the retreat site on your own, please visit the retreat website to find out information about train, airplane and car travel to and from the retreat center.  Transportation to and from the retreat is at your own expense.  Have a ride? Need a ride?  Let us know! info@eshelonline.org

Sessions and learning experiences will include:

  • It Takes Two to Tango: The Dance of the Parent-Child Relationship

  • When You and Your Spouse are Not on the Same Page at the Same Time about your LGBT Child – or at different stages of acceptance

  • The Child I Gave Birth To and the Person You’ve Become: exploring the experience of having a child who is transgender

  • Learning the Ropes: practical pointers for helping your trans child navigate the legal and medical systems

  • “Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First”: Taking Care of Ourselves So We Can Take Care of Our Kids

  • Keeping Our Kids Healthy and Safe: Mental Health Resources

  • Finding the Right Words: How and What to Say?

  • What’s So Funny about Having an LGBT Child? Well, did I tell you about the time… Sharing humorous anecdotes.

  • Red Flags – What to Look Out For: Warning Signs that We Might Need to Consult with A Mental Health Professional

  • From Pieces to a New Whole: Helping our Child be the Best He or She Can Be and the Many Different Ways of Being Kadosh

Questions? Email info@eshelonline.org

Where brothers meet

What parents are saying about the parent retreat:

Overall the retreat introduced me to the issues surrounding having a gay child and how I feel about it. I have not been able to speak about it to anyone but my wife and my friend.

I always feel a part of something, rather than apart from something, at the retreat.

Make friends that last a lifetime

The relationships I’ve formed here, both new and ongoing, are very important to me. The warmth and togetherness of the retreat is wonderful. The sessions are interesting and thought-provoking.

Although I knew I was not alone, it was a powerful experience to meet with others

The spirit of the weekend is so overpoweringly positive and encouraging…The food and camaraderie were terrific but most importantly we are in a community of people who get it and support each other. For one weekend we are living in our dream Orthodox community and shul.



Have you been to an Eshel parent retreat before?  Do you feel it’s time to give back or “pay forward” what you got when you first discovered your child was LGBTQ? Well, now you can!  We will launch our parent mentoring program training at the upcoming retreat.  Don’t miss it!

Find out more by emailing us at info@eshelonline.org

Want to apply? Fill out this form!


No one will be turned away for lack of funds; inquire about our gift card program: info@eshelonline.org


Join the Eshel family!

Rate information:    Double Occupancy:           Single Occupancy:

Super Early Bird:     Until March 3: $225             $300

Early Bird:                  Until April 3:   $250              $325

Regular Fee:              Until April 18: $275               $375


May 4, 2017
May 7, 2017
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Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp
159 Empire Road
Copake, NY 12516 United States
View Venue Website