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Nehirim Queer Jewish Student Retreat 2014

Come get your Queer Jew on at Nehirim’­­s Queer Jewish Student Retreat!

Join 80—100 LGBTQ Jewish students, plus friends and ­­­ allies, for a weekend of fun, learning, connection, and Judaism. The NQJSR is directed by Ethan Sobel and co-chaired by Jessica Leuchter (Wake Forest ’14), Alissa Platcow (UMass Amherst ’15), and Jeremy CaptureGinsberg(UC-Santa Barbara ’15)  ­­­— all current students. It is a participatory, inclusive ­­­ space that welcomes Super Jews, atheists,­­­ allies ­­­— and YOU. The program includes relevant workshops, inspiring services, evening activities, and plenty of chill time.­­­ It’s presented by Nehirim, a national LGBT Jewish community, and cosponsored by The Hillel Council of New England, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and The Florence & Chafetz Hillel House at Boston University and Keshet.

WHEN? ­­­ Friday to Sunday, February 14-16, 2014

WHO? ­­­  We expect between 80-100 LGBTQ Jewish students, plus allies, from across the religious-ideological spectrum and with a wide variety of gender and sexual orientation identities. ­­­ This retreat is limited to active or recently graduated (within two-three months) students under the age of 30 only.

PARTICIPATE:­­­ Directed by volunteers, this Retreat is largely community-led and teaching opportunities are available. What would you like to teach or share?­­­ Email us at to get in touch.


HOW MUCH? ­­­ Prices have already been adjusted to be as affordable as possible for students. Early bird rate is available until December 20, and Financial need rate until the retreat.

Financial Need Rate – $99
Base Rate ­­­— $129
Supporter Rate ­­­— $175 (please pay this if you can)



BU & Boston area Students: You are eligible for a $20 rebate if you host a visiting student for the retreat. Please ­­­email us at to get in touch to volunteer.

WHERE?­­­ The Retreat is taking place at Boston University Hillel in Boston, MA. Free housing with students will be available ­­­— please bring your own sleeping bag and be prepared to sleep on the floor!

2014 Schedule 

Friday, February 14
3:00—5:00 Registration & Snacks
5:00 Opening Program & Shabbat Candle Lighting (Halachic Candlelighting 5:35 pm)
6:15 Friday Night Services with BU
— Reform (with music and instruments)
— Conservative (egalitarian, no instruments)
— Orthodox (mechitza)
— Alternative: Shmooze with Jeremy Ginsburg
7:30 Shabbat Dinner!
8:45—9:45 Michpacha Groups
10:00 Evening Program: If you like it, put a brachah on it!  (David Dunn Bauer)

Saturday, February 15
10:00 Shabbat Morning Services with BU
— Conservative (egalitarian)
— Orthodox (mechitza)
— 11:30: Meditation with Yaakov reef
— Chill out space
12:00 Kiddush & Shmooze
12:30 Lunch
1:40—2:40 Afternoon Session 1
— Being Out in the Workplace (Jeremy Burton)
— Jewish Queers and Hannah Arendt’s Pariahs & Parvenus (Dr. Marla Brettschneider)
— Queer Syntax (student led: Jay Schwartz)
2:50-3:50 Afternoon Session 2
— Lube, Vibrators, Sex Toys…Oh My! (Megan Andelloux)
— Esther the Queer Heroine (Rabbi Yaakov Reef)
3:50-4:00 Break/Shmooze
4:05—5:00 Afternoon Session 3
— Living Your Identity: Keshet’s Founder (Idit Klein)
— Gender, Sexuality, and Genesis (Rev. Cameron Partridge)
— When morality isn’t enough: The Conservative movement and GLBTQ inclusion (Leonard Gordon)
5:00-6:00 Mishpacha Groups
6:15 Havdalah and Dancing
6:45 Light dinner
7:45-8:45 Break: Nap, Relax, Change for Evening Program
9:00 Evening Program: Concert with B. Steady

Sunday, February 16
10:00 Brunch is served
10:30 Brunch Talk: The awesome connection between spirituality and sexuality (Reverend Irene Monroe)
11:45 Closing Program/Reflection Time
1:00 Kon bien te ke amaneskas!


RETREAT DIRECTORS: ­­­ ­­­ Email us at

Ethan Sobel, Director of Student Programming, Communication & Development Associate

Ethan Sobel is extremely excited to serve Nehirim as the Director of Student Programming, Communication & Development Associate. He holds a M.S. in Public Relations from Boston University and received his B.B.A in Finance and Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ethan’s involvement in LGBTQ Jewish activism began as the founding President of LGBT Jews a& Allies at UMass and JewQ at BU while an undergraduate and graduate student respectively. He has directed two Nehirim retreats, and worked as Retreat Manager for four. Ethan is a speaker and educator for Parents, Families, and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) and the Communication Coordinator for Athlete Ally. He currently resides in Cambridge, MA.


Jeremy Ginsberg, Student Chair

Jeremy Ginsberg is a third year at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he is pursuing two B.A’s in History and in Global Studies. During his time at UCSB Jeremy is apart of many different organizations on campus. He has also served as, Co-Chair and Co-Founder of UCSB’s first LGBTQ Jewish Club (Kehset), a Founding Brother and Vice President of UCSB’s Zeta Beta Tau Gamma Xi colony, Vice President of Communications at Santa Barbara Hillel, and President of American Students for Israel at UCSB. In his almost nonexistent spare time Jeremy enjoys playing the flute, graphic design, photography and fixing computers.


Jessica Leuchter, Student Chair

Jessica Leuchter is a senior at Wake Forest University and is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is pursing a B.S. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry. During her time at Wake Forest she has served as President, Vice President, and Shabbat Coordinator of Hillel. She has also been a Resident Adviser of a freshman hall for three years and participates in research in the Physics and Computer science departments. Jessica also contributes to the Winston-Salem community by serving at Treasurer for Interfaith Winston-Salem and by volunteering at the Forsyth Medical Center.


Alissa Platcow, StudentChair

Alissa Platcow is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a double major in Vocal Jazz and Judaic Studies.  At UMass, she co-directs an all female a cappella group, S#arp Attitude, and is very involved in the Jewish community.  She has served as the president of many organizations under the UMass Hillel including LGBTJew and Koach, the conservative group on campus.  After graduation, Alissa hopes to pursue a career as a rabbi.




Reverend Irene Monroe

Reverend Irene Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and as an African American lesbian feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe is also a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in 43 cities across the United States and in the U.K. and Canada.  She also writes a weekly column in the Boston LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows. Monroe is a founder and now member emeritus of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). She is also one of the founders of Equal Partners of Faith, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry (RCFM) and Christian Lesbians Out (CLOUT). Monroe sat on the advisory boards of several national LGBTQ organizations. She served on the Religious Advisory Committee of HRC, NBJC and LGTF. Monroe was a board member of the Cambridge Family YMCA, and a Cambridge LGBTQ Commissioner. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College’s research library on the history of women in America.


Rabbi David Dunn Bauer

Rabbi David Dunn Bauer serves on the Board of Directors  for Nehirim and is the Director of Social Justice Programming for Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) in NYC.  David brings to his work over 20 years of professional theater experience, nine years in the congregational rabbinate, and 20 years of yoga practice, as well as academic study on sexuality and spirituality and many years of work as a touch healer and sacred intimate. David earned his B.A. in Theatre Studies and English Literature at Yale University, studied Talmud at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and received his rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In 2011, he became the first Jew to earn the Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, writing on “Blessings for the Erotic Body” and “Jewish Queer Sexual Ethics.” Along with Michael Cohen, he created Body Electric’s first ever Jewish retreat (“Celebrating the Body Judaic”) in 2006. David interned at CBST in 2000-2001 and from 2003 to 2010 he served as the rabbi of the Jewish Community of Amherst, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Based until recently in San Francisco, he maintains a private practice in Queer Spiritual Counseling. Sought after as a scholar-in-residence, has taught about Queer Theology around the United States and Canada.


Idit Klein

Idit Klein has been an activist for equality and social justice for the past 20 years. Since 2001, she has served as Executive Director of Keshet. During this time, Klein has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to a 16-person, national organization with an annual budget of over one million. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBT inclusion and trained educators in hundreds of Jewish communities around the country. In Massachusetts, Klein helped mobilize Massachusetts rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Klein also served as the Executive Producer of Keshet’s award-winning documentary film Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School.


Dr. Marla Brettschneide

Dr. Marla Brettschneider is Professor of Political Philosophy with a joint appointment in Political Science & Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She has long served as Coordinator of Women’s Studies and prior to that founded and coordinated the UNH Queer Studies Program. Brettschneider speaks and writes widely on issues of Jewish diversity, particularly Jewish queer matters.  Her award winning publications include The Family Flamboyant:  Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives (winner of an IPPY Award in the GLBT category) and The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism with a forward by Cornel West and winner of the Gustatvus Meyers Human Rights Award.


Leonard Gordon

Leonard Gordon oversees social action and public policy for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism as chair of the “Kehilla Strengthening and Transformation” process which focuses on issues of inclusivity.  In the ongoing debates about full inclusion of GLBT individuals in the Conservative movement, he educated synagogues and schools about a path that preserved halakhic process to change halakhic practice.  Senior Rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, MA, he is also Rabbi Emeritus at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia, PA.


Yaakov Reef

Rabbi Yaakov Reef is the Program Manager at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. He has over a decade of experience as an activist for the environment and for LGBTQ social causes. He loves contra dancing, reading science fiction novels, and is an avid backpacker. He’s on Twitter at @yaakovreef.


Jeremy Burton

Jeremy Burton is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Israel and around the world. Through advocacy, organizing, service and partnerships, JCRC pursues social justice, ensures a vibrant Jewish community, and builds a network of support for Israel. Jeremy is currently a board member of Keshet, working for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life, and on the advisory board of Eshel, dedicated to creating understanding and support for LGBT people in traditional Jewish communities.


Megan Andelloux

Megan Andelloux is the founder and director of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH), is a board certified Clinical Sexologist and AASECT certified Sexuality Educator. Her innovative education programs, writing, social media presence and ambitious speaking schedule have helped make her one of America’s most recognized and sought-after expertsr in the growing field of sexual pleasure and health. She has delivered dynamic programs at more than 75 institutions of higher education. Ms. Andelloux is also an Adjunct Instructor in the Brown University Medical School and the Brown University Pediatrics Residencey Program. She is frequently called on by networks including CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Fox and ABC. She has been labeled by the press as “The Princess of Pleasure” and “The Sex Ed Warrior Queen.” Ms. Andelloux was presented with the 2012 First Tracks Award for Innovation in Sexology by Honest Exchange.


Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge

Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge is an Episcopal priest, theologian and openly transgender man. Having served in parish, young adult and university contexts, he is currently serving as the Episcopal Chaplain at Boston University and as a Lecturer and Episcopal/Anglican Counselor at Harvard Divinity School.  His academic work focuses on theologies of embodiment in premodern and contemporary Christian thought, and on the broader intersection of LGBT studies and the study of religion.  His advocacy work focuses on poverty, gender, and sexuality with an emphasis on trans* equality


B. Steady

B.Steady is a songstress filmmaker, inventing her own form of pop arts for queer people of color and folks with silenced struggles.  Redefining the love song in a modern context, Be describes her music as “queer pop and soul”.  In her live performances, she utilizes vocal layering, elaborate harmonies, and beat boxing to compose her songs on stage.


Jay Schwartz

Jay Schwartz is a senior at Boston University earning major in magazine journalism and  psychological studies and brain science. Aspiring to be a creative advertiser, he currently interns at an ad agency in downtown Boston while working part time on Newbury Street. When he’s not dissecting a sheep brain or photoshopping a new brand, Jay runs a weekly slam poetry workshop and dabbles in kosher cooking. Deeply invested in the queer community, he tries to find the intersectionality of his passions and has run workshops in the past for queer expression and therapy for sexual assault survivors through poetry.


The Nehirim Student Retreat is an immersion weekend of community, spirituality, and connection for LGBTQ”ˆJewish students and allies. It features a full program of”ˆShabbat services, workshops, learning opportunities, social programs, and teachers from a diverse range of religious, gender/sexuality, and geographical backgrounds. Nehirim is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2003, that has been nationally recognized by the Slingshot Fund as one of the fifty most innovative Jewish organizations in the country.

Questions? Email us at! Also, connect with us on Facebook.

We are co-sponsored by the following organizations: