Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
Keshet Shabbatonim might feel like magic, but they actually take a lot of planning. And much of that planning is done by the Shabbatonim co-chairs. During the months leading up to each Shabbaton, the co-chairs lead a steering committee, and help to shape the content and experience of the weekend. These co-chairs are juniors and seniors in high school, who have previously attended Shabbatonim, and want to continue their involvement, and hone their skills as leaders in our Shabbaton community.
The East Coast Shabbaton co-chairs, Floyd Kessler and Devin Goldstein, are getting excited for March! And while they are busy preparing (and, of course, going to high school!) they took a few minutes to answer a few questions for us.
- Where are you right now? Right now I am a senior in high school and am living in Harrisburg PA. I plan on going away to college, but I haven’t decided on a school just yet.
- What is your favorite memory from your first Shabbaton? My first Shabbaton was in Connecticut. And I remember it was freezing!! I’m not a fan of the cold, but I remember this the most, because the other teens wrapped their bed spread around themselves to go to activities. I thought it was hilarious! (I took part in the blanket wrapping)
- What are you most looking forward to for next year’s East Coast Shabbaton? I am very excited to spend time with my good friends in the upcoming shabbaton. I am extremely grateful to have a queer Jewish space open for me. And I want to carry that sense of family with me for college.
- What is one thing you’re excited to bring to the Shabbaton as a co-chair? I am exciting to bring some knowledge from my personal life that I can share with others! I would love to give advice and to help out some of the younger Shabbaton folks!
- What advice would you give to a first-time Shabbaton participant? Please just lose yourself. Get out of your own head and cherish this space. This space is unlike any other, and there is no reason to hold yourself back from enjoying it.
- If you could take a road trip with anyone from history, who would it be? This is a very difficult question. But let’s just say if I could fit a four seater car with people from history to roadtrip with, it would be Emma Goldman, Kathleen Hanna, and Stevie Nicks.
- Where are you right now? Right now I am in Saxtons River, VT completing my senior year of high school.
- What is your favorite memory from your first Shabbaton? My favorite memory of my first and so far any Shabbaton is participating in a traditional morning service and then being shown the Torah for the first time. Amram Altzman and a Keshet Fellow showed me the Torah after the service and it was beautiful, it made me believe that I really can do anything and studying Judaism really isn’t out of reach, no matter who I am.
- What are you most looking forward to for next year’s East Coast Shabbaton? I am most looking forward to seeing all of the amazing activities that the steering committee, my co-chair, Floyd, and I have created.
- What is one thing you’re excited to bring to the Shabbaton as a co-chair? I am really excited to bring more intersectionality between LGBTQ+ and Jewish identities into the Shabbaton.
- What advice would you give to a first-time Shabbaton participant? My advice to first time Shabbaton participants is to talk to people and be yourself because you can create some amazing friendships.
- If you could take a road trip with anyone from history, who would it be? I would take a road trip with Miriam because she got to see everything that happened on both sides of Egypt and witness countless miracles. She is an important matriarch who did not let Moses overshadow her or any situation bring down her belief and she has a good singing voice because every road trip needs karaoke while driving.
If you want to come hang out with Floyd and Devin, and lots of other great LGBTQ and Ally teens, Shabbaton registration is still open. Head to https://www.keshetonline.org/teenshabbaton/ for more information, including how to register!