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Nehirim East Retreat

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Nehirim East is May 15-17, 2015 at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Baltimore, MD!

The Nehirim East¬†Retreat will bring the best of the Nehirim (now in its 11th year!) to the Pearlstone¬†Retreat Center. ¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†This year’s retreat theme¬†is:¬†Concealed and Revealed: Honoring our Depths and Claiming our Wholeness.¬†We’ll bring about 75 LGBT Jews, partners, and allies together for a heartful, fun weekend where you can…

EXPLORE your connection to Judaism with spirited­­­ Shabbat services, workshops, and community-led programming.

RELAX and enjoy nature and a beautiful site outside Baltimore, MD.

CONNECT with an inclusive and diverse community­­­ of LGBT Jews, partners, and allies.

Learn More:

Cost and Financial Aid

Register at our early bird rates by March 15 and pay the same OR LOWER fees as 2013 and 2014 standard rates!

  • Single:¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†$575 (Lodge/hotel room, private bath)
  • Double:¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†$450 (Lodge/hotel room with your own bath)
  • Add 3rd or 4th teen or adult to Lodge room (two double beds): 3rd and 4th people are $250 each.
  • Cabin: (4-7 people, 2-3 people per room, bathroom in cabin):¬≠¬≠¬≠¬†¬†$325 for twin bed $250¬†for bunk bed
  • Non-residential: $180
  • 1-5 year old child in room: $50
  • 6-12 year old child in room: $150
  • 13-18 year old: $250

Rates  from March 16-May 8:

  • Single: $625 (Lodge/hotel room, private bath)
  • Double: $525
  • Cabin: (4-7 people, 2-3 people per room, bathroom in cabin)¬† $375 for twin bed, $300 for bunk bed
  • 1-5 year old child in room: $50
  • 6-12 year old child in room: $150
  • 13-18 year old: $250

Rates from May 9-15‚ÄĒadd another $50 late fee to every price¬†

Financial Aid: Applications will be accepted until May 1. Applicants must pay $72 towards the weekend. Students, the unemployed and those financially responsible for children and/or parents will be given first priority. Every effort will be made to accommodate all requests, but if that is not possible,  financial aid will be given on a first come first served basis.


Register Now!



New Teen Programming!

Nehirim is introducing teen programming for the first time at this retreat. Those age 13/14 (post bnei mitzvah) to 21, who identify as LGBTQ themselves and/or are children of participants are welcome to join us for an experience designed just for them!

On Friday teens will join the opening welcome and prayer and then have their own mishpacha group and an opening program of their own during the Tisch hour.

After prayer and lunch on Shabbat teens will enjoy an afternoon of programming from 1:45 until 6:15 that will include:

Dialogue based programming exploring questions like:

  • What does it mean to you to believe in G-d? To not believe? To believe in G-d and science at the same time? To have a relationship with an ever changing G-d? What are the many ways that Jews believe in G-d? How can one lead a spiritual life that makes sense?
  • Two or three 30 minute sessions with teachers at the retreat who share their workshop topic in a framework that is age appropriate for teens
  • Testimonials and dialogue from adults on all the ways that ‚ÄúIt gets better‚ÄĚ
  • Participant led programming which will of course be dependent on what the participating teens volunteer to lead. Some examples: music, meditation, creative exercises, outdoor fun

Their mishpacha group will continue throughout the weekend.

Transportation and Timing

For directions and transportation information, please visit the Pearlstone website ( To offer or request a ride to the retreat, visit our­­­ Facebook Schmooze page. All specific transportation information can be found here.

For more information, please­­­ email us at info[at]

Workshop Descriptions

Writing Yourself Into Existence (Eryca Kasse)

Explore the healing tool of writing to discover parts of yourself you didn’t even know were there, concretize what has been scattered, and claim your inner truth. You will be guided through a series of writing exercises on your relationship with Jewish LGBTQ identities, and have an opportunity to share your realizations and insights with the group. No writing experience necessary! All writing levels welcome! Please bring pen and paper.

Research, advocacy and practical issues for trans* Jews, mikva and conversion, (Rabbi Laurie Green)

As the rabbi of the only LGBTQ synagogue south of NY, I am constantly approached by prospective Jews, and by rabbis, who are confused around working with trans Jews and conversion.¬† This workshop will discuss questions like: who is a same gender witness for mikvah?¬† and should one do hatafat dam brit on a woman with a penis?¬† Let’s chart this new territory together.

Conceal?  Reveal?  Honor?  Claim?  Navigating Interfaith Experiences & Identities (Mycroft Masada Holmes)

Our retreat theme, ‚ÄúConcealed and Revealed: Honoring our Depths and Claiming our Wholeness‚ÄĚ, seems made to include conversation about our interfaith experiences.¬† What does it mean to be a Jewish and/or interfaith person /¬† couple / family, community member / worker / leader?¬† How do these faith / religion / spirituality experiences and identities relate to our LGBTQIA+ ones?¬† How do they affect our process around disclosure, often known as ‚Äúout‚ÄĚness?¬† What do we do with questions about whether we‚Äôre too interfaithful to be Jewish? How is the faith community responding to these ‚Äúnew‚ÄĚ challenges?¬† Your teacher will share some thoughts from hir personal and professional Jewscopalian / Trewscopalian journey and facilitate a group

2014 Schedule (2015 TBA)

3:00‚ÄĒ5:15 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Arrival, snacks, registration, mikvaot
6:00‚ÄĒ6:45 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Welcome and opening program
6:45‚ÄĒ8:00 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Candlelighting and Shabbat services
8:00‚ÄĒ9:00 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Shabbos Dinner
10:00‚ÄĒ10:55 ¬† ¬† Mishpacha groups
11:00‚ÄĒ12:00 ¬† ¬† Tisch
12 step meeting (participant-led)
8:30-9:45         Breakfast
9:45‚ÄĒ12:00 ¬† ¬†Shabbat Morning Services or Spiritual Practice (choose one)
Renewal davennen
Mechitza davennen
12:15-1:30     Lunch
1:45-3:00       Afternoon Workshop 1 (choose one)
3:00-3:15        Break
3:15‚ÄĒ4:30 ¬† ¬† Afternoon Workshop 2 (choose one of two)
4:30-4:45        Break
4:45-6:00     Afternoon Workshop 3 (choose one of two)
6:15‚ÄĒ7:30 ¬† Seudah Shlishit (Third meal) ‚Äď Dinner
7:45-8:45     Mishpacha groups
8:45    Traditional Maariv
9:15  Havdallah and dancing followed by It Shall Be Revealed! РOpen Mic 

8:30‚ÄĒ9:00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Shacharit (participant-led)
9:00-10:00      Brunch
10:00–11:15 ¬† ¬† ¬† Workshop (choose one of two)
11:30                  Mishpacha groups       
12:30                 Closing session
1:15 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†L’hitraot!

Register Now!



Debra Kolodny, Executive Director

Debra Kolodny joined Nehirim as its Executive Director in March of 2013. She brings over thirty years of local and national leadership in LGBT organizations, including five years as National Coordinator for BiNet USA, six years facilitating NGLTF‚Äôs National Religious Leadership Roundtable, editing Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith, publishing dozens of articles on religion and sexuality, and teaching hundreds of venues on the topic of Judaism, sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to her work with Nehirim she is active in interfaith social justice work and is a frequent guest speaker, ritualist, and teacher. Prior to joining P‚Äônai Or she served as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal for nine years and was the rabbi of P’nai Or of Portland. Rabbah D‚Äôvorah has been practicing taiji since 1995 and meditation for almost as long and is passionate about ecstatic dance.


Rabbi Julia Watts Belser

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser is a professor at Georgetown University, where she works in Jewish Studies, with a focus in Talmud, rabbinic literature, and Jewish ethics. Her work focuses on classical Jewish responses to drought and disaster, portrayals of sexual violence in rabbinic responses to enslavement and empire, as well as gender, disability, and the dissident body in late antiquity. An ordained rabbi, Professor Belser also writes queer feminist Jewish theology and brings disability culture into conversation with Jewish tradition. Before joining the Theology Department at Georgetown, Professor Belser held a research fellowship in Women’s Studies and Religion at Harvard Divinity School and taught in the Religious Studies Department at Missouri State University. She serves on the board of the Society for Jewish Ethics and holds leadership positions in the American Academy of Religion.




Rabbi Joel Alter, Board Secretary

Rabbi Joel Alter serves as the Nehirim Board of Directors Secretary.¬†He ¬†is Director of Admissions for JTS‚Äô Rabbinical and Cantorial schools.¬† He took up this role after sixteen years of service in pluralistic Jewish day schools as a teacher, rabbinic leader, and administrator.¬† His commitments to advancing institutions organized around Torah study and Jewish living inform his past and present roles. ¬†Having been a closeted rabbinical student at JTS in the ‚Äė90‚Äôs, Joel is particularly proud to be the first out director of admissions for the now inclusive Rabbinical and Cantorial programs at JTS. Joel earned his BA in Jewish History at Columbia University; his rabbinic ordination and an MA in Jewish Education are from JTS.¬† He received additional training at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.¬† Shabbat, Torah, Hebrew, hiking, good friends, and good food are among the things that bring him joy.


Mycroft Masada

Mycroft Masada is a faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area from hir lifelong home of Boston MA a year ago; zie is Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s Interfaith Coalition for Trans Equality, a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith, and a member of TransEpiscopal.  Mycroft is called to fat justice, and is a writer and artist. Zie is partnered with Julia McCrossin, the Fat Studies scholar; they have one dogter.


Sabrina Sojourner

Sabrina Sojourner is a Jewish African American Woman with roots in many gardens. She serves as a Shaliach Tzibur providing life cycle services Jews in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. She is also a nationally recognized speaker, writer and trainer on diversity and multiculturalism with a long social justice history in multiple movements; life coach, organizational development specialist, singer, so-so guitar player, mother and grandmother embracing life.


Rabbi Laurie Green

Rabbi Laurie Green brings 18 years of experience as a Jewish educator.¬† Prior to assuming her duties at Bet Mishpachah in July 2013, Rabbi Green served as Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo and Rabbi and Director of Education at Aspen Jewish Congregation.¬† She was a founding board member of the National Union of Jewish LGBT Students, and worked in professional politics before attending rabbinical school.¬† Rabbi Green also has extensive experience in community organizing, interfaith relations, and social justice, having worked and trained with Jewish Funds for Justice, the Religious Action Center, and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, among others.¬† She received her pastoral care training at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.¬† Rabbi Green received her B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 and her M.A. in Hebrew Literature and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College in 2007.¬† Rabbi Green’s rabbinic thesis “Pious Prostitutes” explored the midrashim of three Biblical women, Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, as a lens through which to explore sexuality, gender, power, and interfaith relationships, as they have changed throughout Jewish history and into our day. Rabbi Green has published on feminist midrash, Jewish education, and other topics. She joins the Bet Mishpachah community with her wife, Mira, and their son, Gus.¬†Rabbi Green is available for pastoral care, spiritual guidance, life cycle events, hospital visits, study, and just to schmooze. ¬†She is a resource to the community-at-large and can offer teachings about Judaism, LGBT issues, LGBT inclusion, LGBT theology, sexuality in Judaism and other religious traditions, feminist midrash, and other topics.


Dr. Dana Beyer

Dana Beyer, M.D., a retired eye surgeon, is Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland, chair of the national advisory board of Freedom to Work, and a weekly columnist at the Huffington Post. A well-known advocate for health issues as well as gender rights, she practiced medicine and surgery in D.C., Miami, Mississippi, Africa and Asia. She was a candidate for Maryland State Delegate in 2006 and 2010, and the Maryland State Senate in 2014. She has been Vice President of Equality Maryland, Executive Vice President of Maryland NOW, a member of the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, a founding member of the Progressive Working Group, a steering committee member of Progressive Neighbors, and a board member at the National Center for Transgender Equality and Mobile Medical Care, Montgomery County’s service provider of health care to the uninsured. She is currently a board member of Keshet, the nation’s foremost Jewish LGBT organization, and A Wider Bridge. She co-authored The Dallas Principles in 2009. She served as Senior Adviser to Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg of the Montgomery County Council, and on the Rules Committee of the Democratic party. A mother of two adult sons, she lives in Chevy Chase, MD.


Eryca Kasse

Eryca Kasse is a Jewish lesbian writer and poet of the written and spoken word. Her work has been published in Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry. As a clinical social worker at community mental health centers, she has incorporated writing therapy groups into her practice with adults recovering from mental illness and substance abuse. Eryca was co-director of the 2nd Nehirim DC Shabbaton and lives in DC with her two cats Nina and Olive. Her poetry has been published in Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry and she has been a featured performer at DC area spoken word poetry venues.



This year’s retreat is co-sponsored by:

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