Eshel Local Support Groups

Do you think you might be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, or queer? Do you have questions about sexual orientation or gender identity? Are you thinking about “coming out”? Are you struggling to stay in your community? Are you unsure how to approach your rabbi about these topics? Do you want to meet other people like you?

Eshel offers several sources of support for LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews, their families and their communities. You may sign up here.

Eshel Chapters in Cities across the US and Canada

Atlanta

Baltimore/DC (parents, LGBTQ)

Brooklyn (women’s)

Chicago (parents, LGBTQ)

Long Island

Los Angeles

Manhattan

North New Jersey

Miami

Montreal

Philadelphia

Queens

St. Louis

Toronto

 

National Phone-In Groups

Orthodox Parents of LGBTQ people

LGTBQ People

Orthodox Parents with Children of Trans Experience

 

Not in One of These Cities?

Check out our LGBTQ+ and Parent Phone-in groups. You may sign up here.

The Eshel family is big and sometimes there are meetings in other cities for socializing and support.  Check back to our events page or subscribe to our newsletter.

Want to find a Welcoming Shul?  Need a place to go for Shabbat or a holiday? Just want to talk to someone? Please let us know by writing to info@eshelonline.org.

 

Want to create an Eshel Chapter in Your City?

Let us know and we willl help you. Contact us at info@eshelonline.org

 

In addition to finding us on Facebook and Twitter, you can call us any time from anywhere for a consultation:

1-724-ESHEL01

(1-724-374-3501)

If you are in the New York area, Eshel staff are available to support you with an in-person meeting, resources and referrals. Contact info@eshelonline.org to schedule a meeting.

 

Community Events

Join us and meet others in the Eshel community at one of our events.  Check our event page.

 

Jewish LGBTQ+ Organizations

LGBTQ Jewish Organizations in North America

 

JQYouth

JQY is a social/support group made up of frum/formerly frum* gay, bi, trans and lesbian Jews ages 17-30.  They run a drop-in center for teens, meet for informal social get togethers and run anonymous online discussion groups.  JQY is based in  New York based, with members all over the world.   Their Yeshiva Inclusion Project helps people find out whether an Israel Program is appropriate for them.

 

Keshet
Keshet is a grassroots organization dedicated to creating a fully inclusive Jewish community for GLBT people.

 

Ma’agal
A support group for Jewish LBTQ women facing questions of sexuality, gender, and religion. Each meeting is facilitated by Chani Getter, and includes sharing and discussion. Confidentiality, support, and compassionate listening are central values. Ma’agal meets the first Tuesday of every month in Manhattan

KindEar (not LGBTQ+ specific)

A Yiddish and English phone support hotline for anyone raised Orthodox, regardless of current religious observance.  We speak Yiddish, and we understand the nuance of being raised in an Orthodox community. 

 

LGBTQ Jewish Organizations in Israel

 

A Wider Bridge
A Wider Bridge seeks to inspire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Jews to deepen their Jewish identity through connection with Israel and to develop stronger connections between the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Israel and North America.

 

Bat-Kol
Bat-kol – Religious Lesbian Organization was founded to allow women to fulfill both their religious and lesbian identity; to make it possible for women to live in loving relationships, to raise children without deception, but nevertheless stay committed to their religion. This organization is located in Israel.

 

Havruta
Havruta offers social and support networks for religious LGBT people in Israel. Beyond being a safe haven, Havruta actively works to inform and educate the religious public about LGBT issues in their communities.

 

HOD
The Hod website is the first independent site for religious homosexual Jews, providing a platform for open-minded discussion in order to facilitate understanding about being gay and Orthodox.

 

Jerusalem Open House
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) is a leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and their allies in the heart of Jerusalem. As a grassroots, activist community center, JOH provides direct services to all LGBTQ individuals in Jerusalem and its surrounding communities, while working to secure LGBTQ rights in Israeli society at large.

In case of emergency

If you are considering taking your life, reach out for help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

More than 150 crisis centers currently participate in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. Each center receives calls from designated areas of the country, creating a nationwide coverage area. Calls to 1-800-273-TALK are routed to the closest available crisis center.

1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

https://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. It operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Trevor Helpline: 1-866-488-7386

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

 

Crisis Text Line

Text ‘HOME’ to 741741 from anywhere in the US, any time, about any type of crisis. Visit www.crisistextline.org for more information.

 

Suicide Prevention Line

 1-800-784-2433 OR 1 -800-273-8255

 

Trans Life Line:

Dedicated to the wellbeing of trans people.

877-565-8860

www.translifeline.org/

Resources for students:

Suicide Prevention in College 

Guide to Suicide Prevention for Students and Parents

Building Social Support Through School 

Balancing Student Stress Guide 

Mental Health Guidebook for Students

 

Suicide.org

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support For a full list of suicide hotlines in the and out of the United States, click here.

Texts and Online Resources

Films
DevOut
DEVOUT is a 37-minute documentary film that follows the lives of seven women in New York and New Jersey who are trying to reconcile their alternative sexuality with their commitment to Orthodox Judaism. Their faith has always condemned homosexuality in the harshest terms. Find out how Chani, Pam, Elissa, Hayley, Lina and “Miriam” have dealt with being “unacceptable” while still remaining devoted to their strict faith and community.

Trembling Before G-d
Landmark film about gay Orthodox Jews. Site features curriculum and discussion guide. (2001)

Keep Not Silent
Keep Not Silent (Hebrew: את שאהבה נפשי‎ Et Sheaava Nafshi) is a 2004 documentary film by Israeli director Ilil Alexander about three lesbians in Jerusalem.  It documents the journey of some of the individuals in the first “Orthodyke” group in Jerusalem.

Ha-Sodot (The Secrets)
An Israeli woman (Ania Bukstein) from a strict religious household falls in love with her classmate (Michal Shtamler) at a women’s seminary.  This 2007 film tells the story of forbidden love and learning between two women.

 Mom and Dad, I Have Something to Tell You
“Mom and Dad: I Have Something to Tell You” is a documentary film (2010) about the journey parents whose children tell them they are gay are forced to take. Their life changes in a second and a challenging and slow journey, for all the family, begins, taking them from denial to understanding, from anger to the need to be there for him or her, from shame to acceptance.

V’Ahavta  (And Thou Shalt Love)
A 2008 Israeli short about Ohad, a young orthodox Jew, who tries to extinguish his homosexual tendencies. But when his boyfriend returns from the army, he finds he can no longer evade his feelings and questions within himself, and between himself and God.

Blogs and Online Resources
Writings by LGBTQ people

A Gay Orthodox Jew
A thoughtful chronicle of reconciling Jewish and gay identities.

And If Not Now, When?
Articulating a vision for gay-positive observant Judaism.

No Mom, This is Not Just a Phase
Stories and Thoughts of a Gay, Orthodox Jew

The Chalamti Blog
Discourses from the life of a gay Orthodox Jew, written by a young man. (“Chalamti” translates as “I dreamed” in Hebrew.)

Frum Gay Girl
A formerly married, chassidic woman with a large family, staying within the Orthodox community and talking about what that’s like for her family, her children, and herself.

Gay Gevalt
This website includes a calendar of Queer Jewish events, a blog, and a shop.

Gotta Give ‘Em Hope
Chaim Levin grew up Lubavitch Hasidic Orthodox in Crown Heights, Brooklyn New York and was often bullied as a kid. After being thrown out of yeshiva after admitting his attraction to men, undergoing “reparative therapy,” and attempting suicide, he finally emerged a proud gay Jewish man. These are his musings.

It’s Like Disapproving of Rain
A gay woman writes about encountering — and countering — homophobia at the Shabbos table, along with her journey to embrace herself, and her desire to have a nice, traditional Jewish family…with another nice Jewish girl by her side.

Orthogays
A list for Gay Jewish men who are Orthodox. It was created to have a place where Orthodox Gay Jewish men (including those who are “Frum From Birth,” “Ba’al Tshuvah,” Modern Orthodox, Datti Le’umi, Haredi, Hardali, etc.) can meet or talk with others who are currently frum (Orthodox).

Orthodox, Gay and Married Jew
The unique perspective of a gay Orthodox man, formerly married to a woman, trying to navigate his complicated identity amidst his family and community.

Jewish Pink Elephant
Ideas of an American Syrian Orthodox Gay Jew by Rich Dweck. Rich provides a blend of resources dealing with Judaism and Homosexuality, along with important modern Jewish issues.

Tirtzah: A Community of Frum Queer Women
Tirtzah is a community of Frum Queer women who gather online and in person to celebrate and study Judaism, and to support one another in living integrated religious lives. Tirtzah has an e-mail list, a blog, and events in the New York and New Jersey area.

 

Writings by Allies

Orthodox Mom of Gay Kid
A proud, Orthodox Mom talks about her teenage son coming out, having a gay child in the Modern Orthodox community, and LGBTQ issues in the Orthodox community at large.

Another Jewish Kid With Gay Parents
Started by a teenager living in a modern orthodox community with a married lesbian mom and a straight dad who created the site with the hope that teenagers with any variation of the gay parent/religious upbringing combination would find it and connect.

Kirtzono
Started by an Orthodox parent, Kirtzono is an anonymous forum for participants to share thoughts, stories and new glosses on Jewish texts and holidays.

 

Listserves

FrumGays
A listserv for GLBT Jews who are or have been Orthodox, or attended Yeshivas or Hebrew Day Schools.

Tirtzah: A Community of Frum Queer Women
Tirtzah is a community of Frum Queer women who gather online and in person to celebrate and study Judaism, and to support one another in living integrated religious lives. Tirtzah has an e-mail list, a blog, and events in the New York and New Jersey area.

 

Jewish Texts

Wrestling with God
A collection of over 160 classical Jewish texts curated by Rabbi Steve Greenberg. These are the primary source texts Rabbi Greenberg explored in depth in his groundbreaking book, Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition. Here you can create customizable text-study and source sheets using the Wrestling with God texts for use in classrooms, synagogues, and other educational venues.

Bibliography of Contemporary Orthodox Responses to Homosexuality
by the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions

 

Support Groups

Temicha
Temicha is an online support group for Orthodox Jewish parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Straight Spouse Network

Discovering your spouse isn’t straight- real support at an unreal time

 

2010 Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community

Trans-specific Resources

Books for Adults

Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children by Rachel Pepper

I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a transgender child by Cheryl Evans

 

Books for Children

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Magical Princess Harriet: Chessed, World of Compassion by Leiah Moser

Beast by Brie Spangler

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel

The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey

 

Online Resources

Transgender Orthodox Jews
Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber provides an analysis of the challenges–both halakhic and social–faced by transgender individuals in the Orthodox Jewish world, with some suggested resolutions.

The Transgender Teen’s Survival Guide
A blog created for humans/beings of all ages who have questions concerning their gender identity. This blog is designed to be a safe and supportive space where you are able to share your stories and concerns, as well as receive help and resources!

The “Tzitz Eliezer” Responsa
Beth Orens summarizes the responsa of the “Tzitz Eliezer” on the halachic status of transsexual people.

The Dina Listserv
A place for male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals who are Orthodox Jews to meet and discuss pertinent issues. The list is also open to transsexuals who are no longer Orthodox as long as they retain respectful and positive views of Orthodox Judaism.

Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery

The Mount Sinai Health System’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery provides compassionate and comprehensive health care services for the transgender community. A team of professionals within the Mount Sinai Health System help patients in their journey from initial assessment and screening through hormonal therapy, surgical procedures, and post-transition care.

The Story of a Birl Blog 

This is the story of a birl. And the mother of a birl. Who live in a Jewish modern orthodox community. Together we are navigating the challenges of being and raising a gender non conforming child in an orthodox community.

Health Resources

DrugRehab

Substance use disorders have a greater effect on LGBTQ+ people than on the heterosexual population. The LGBTQ+ community must overcome several obstacles, including being denied substance abuse treatment because of their sexual identity. However, through the proper understanding and accommodation of LGBTQ+ care principles, substance abuse treatment can be successful.

Institute for Personal Growth

If you are like most of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer clients, you want therapy for the same reasons non-gay people seek it:  personal or family issues unrelated to your sexuality. IPG psychotherapists won’t blame your sexuality as the cause of your problems.  This is true because the majority of our therapists are part of the LGBTQ community themselves, and they do have an extra edge – knowledge and experience that can only be gained by living it.