Coming Out of the Parents’ Closet

Eshel retreat for Orthodox parents of LGBT children creates community, brings hard issues to light

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It’s not easy being Orthodox and gay. Nor is it easy being the Orthodox parent of a gay man, a lesbian, a bisexual, a transgender person, or a self-identified queer.

In May, for the fourth time, the organization Eshel, which primarily is a support system for LGBTQ Orthodox Jews, is offering its yearly retreat for that community’s parents.

It also hosts a monthly conference call for parents, along with many other resources and referrals; see the box for more information.

It attracts many parents, who find the nonjudgmental community it offers a balm. As many of them say, “When your kids come out of the closet, you go right inside it.” And the closet is a dark, airless, stifling place.

Among those parents who go to the Eshel retreat every year are at least two couples from Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah. One of those couples, Jeannie and Dr. Kenneth Prager, have been public about their daughter, Tamar, who is lesbian, whom they love, and of whom they are deeply proud (as they are of their three other children).

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