Family Retreat: The Idea (And the People) Behind the year’s most anticipated LGBT Jewish event
The Annual Jewish LGBT family retreat will take place the first weekend of May (3rd-5th), and after last year’s success, this year we predict that the full-events-weekend will become the ultimate Jewish LGBT family vacation of the year! And we are so proud that it all started as a BCC initiative!
“A couple of years ago, Felicia and I met with a few families and offered a few possibilities for LGBT family vacations,” explains our own Leah Zimmerman, the organizer of the family retreat. “The main question was that if we wanted to do something at a retreat facility we needed a critical mass. How would we build a critical mass? Families chose the idea of having something that stayed family focused and invited other families in SoCal to join us. ”
“We also were sensitive to the fact that while we wanted to invite families from other synagogues, it wasn’t our intention to poach members. This led to the idea of co-sponsorship. We invited other synagogues to put their names on the flyers so that their congregants could know that they to were a part of sponsoring this event. Important to the creation of this event has been the collaboration with the Shalom Institute and the commitment and support of Bill Kaplan, the Executive Director and Joel Charnick, the Director of Camp JCA Shalom.”
How much work has been put into planning this year’s retreat?
“Lucky for us, JCA Shalom has a retreat structure that they use frequently. They hire the staff, they run the activities, and provide the food. I spend a lot of time communicating with Joel. In addition, we facilitate planning meetings to which anyone who is a part of a sponsoring institution is invited. Together we review the schedule and make suggestions for programming. It’s a lot of short phone calls and emails, following up on conversations, publicity, responding to inquiries etc.”
For families who enjoyed the retreat last year, Leah says that there will be some new surprises.”We have some new additions,” Leah reveals. “We are working to further integrate the clergy into the weekend and to provide more specific LGBT related conversations and content during the Saturday program.”