Shabbat Dinner and Kabbalat Service at 2018 Philly Conference

The 2018 Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference (recently renamed from the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference) will once again include Shabbat Dinner and Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday, August 3, 2018, beginning with dinner at 5:45pm and the service at 7pm.

Please RSVP so we can plan for enough food. More details at PTWC Shabbat page.

The first Shabbat service at the conference was held in a small room at the convention center after hours in 2009. Organized collaboratively by Shelley Rosenberg, Chris Paige, and Rabbi Levi Alter, that first event included a little more than a dozen people in the inaugural year of the spirituality track.

"I remember this one trans guy in the Shabbat service saying he hadn't been connected to Jewish community for years before that," recalls Paige. "It meant so much to him to reconnect -- and to all of us."

After several years in the basement of Arch Street United Methodist Church, where Rosenberg began orchestrating a vegetarian and kosher dinner before the service, the event moved to the John C. Anderson apartments (251 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107) in 2015.

The dinner/service retains that sense of open invitation for trans folk and allies to connect or reconnect with tradition and/or community regardless of where they are coming from. Many attendees meet up at the Convention Center and walk over together. A $10 per person donation is suggested to cover costs of the food, but no one will be turned away.

Please RSVP so we can plan for enough food.

Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS), based in Philadephia, became a key sponsor of the project in 2014, at Rosenberg's invitation. 

Phoenix Schneider, LGBTQ director for JFCS says, "At this point, we usually expect 75 to 100 people to attend. It's truly a special and meaningful experience for LGBTQ+ and allied folx from all over the country and even the world to be together for Shabbat."  

This year's D'var Torah will be offered by Enzi Tanner from Minneapolis, MN. Past services have been led by transgender Jewish leaders, such as Emily Aviva Kapor, Leiah Mosier, Levi Alter, Joy Ladin, Abby Stein, Mycroft Masada, and Rafi Daugherty.

"Shabbat at PTWC is a wonderful, rare opportunity to experience worship and community in a context that centers the rightness of our trans lives and trans bodies as reflections of the Divine," says Tynan Power, a Muslim activist who often attends with his Jewish partner.

This year Tribe 12, Transfaith, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Mazzoni Center are providing sponsorship. Other collaborators in the past have included Keshet, Spectrum, and some local congregations.

If you or your organization would like to become a sponsor, please contact Phoenix Schneider.

See also: Enzi Tanner