Speaking at OC MoHo - June 2015

Speaking at Moishe House about Shabbat

Speaking at OC MoHo - June 2015Asked to discuss Shabbat prohibitions at the Orange County Moishe House, I did so last week. In my capacity as the rabbi of Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment, I led a discussion with participants on what Jews are not supposed to do on Shabbat. In the discussion, I used various key texts from the Bible, as well as some from rabbinic literature. Of course, this gave way to further discussion about more contemporary issues and I look forward to discussing these matters further with them.

People at Islay Scotch-tasting

Scotch-Tasting Completes 2014-2015 Texts & Tasting Series

People at Islay Scotch-tastingOn Sunday, I held the fourth and final “Texts and Tasting” event of the 2014-2015 year. “Scotches & Second” featured Islay Scotches alongside learning about the second commandment.

Scotches set out with some of the snacksThe Islay Scotches – Bruichladdich Scottish Barley, Kilchoman, Lagavulin 16, and Laphroaig 18 – were graciously sponsored by Rachel Tichauer at New York Life.

The participants definitely enjoyed being exposed to Islay Scotches, especially their quite peatey character!  As to the Second Commandment, it was fascinating to explore it.

Last week, I spoke at the Orange County Moishe House

Discussion at Moishe House on How Chickens Became Meat

Last week, I spoke at the Orange County Moishe House
Last week, I spoke at the Orange County Moishe House

Last week, I led a text-based discussion at the Orange County Moishe House with young adults. The topic under discussion was how did chicken become to be considered meat that was not to be boiled with milk (or consumed, etc.). This topic emerged out of a discussion held last month at the Orange County Moishe House to see which topics would be of interest to the young adults there and I happily obliged this curious group of young adults.

Speaking about Justice in the Jewish tradition

Speaking on Interfaith Panel at CSULB

Speaking about Justice in the Jewish tradition
Speaking about Justice in the Jewish tradition

Recently, I spoke on an interfaith panel at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I represented Judaism in discussing “Justice”, alongside representatives of the other Abrahamic faiths.

While I pointed out that justice occurs hundreds of times in the Bible, I also made sure to highlight two fundamental verses which I thought were significant: Leviticus 19.15 (“לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל, בַּמִּשְׁפָּט–לֹא-תִשָּׂא פְנֵי-דָל, וְלֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדוֹל: בְּצֶדֶק, תִּשְׁפֹּט עֲמִיתֶךָ.”) and Deuteronomy 16.20 (“צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף”)

On Abrahamic interfaith panel at CSULB
On Abrahamic interfaith panel at CSULB, moderated by Dr. James Sauceda of the CSULB Multicultural Center

This was my second time taking part in an interfaith panel discussion at CSULB, with the first having taken place four years ago.

The Torah on Tap discussion I led yesterday was the final one of the academic year with Beach Hillel

Final “Torah on Tap” of the Academic Year with Beach Hillel

The Torah on Tap discussion I led yesterday was the final one of the academic year with Beach Hillel
The Torah on Tap discussion I led yesterday was the final one of the academic year with Beach Hillel

Last night, I led a Torah on Tap discussion for Beach Hillel on the centralmost chapter in the Torah. Taking place at The Nugget at California State University, Long Beach, we looked at chapter 19 in the book of Leviticus, which provided a rich discussion.

The Torah on Tap series is a monthly series that Beach Hillel provided for its students to engage with Jewish topics of interest, having taken place three times in the fall (September, October, and November) and three times in the spring (February, March, and April), with me serving as the Jewish educator for the series.

Noble Ale Works - April 2015

Discussion on the Ten Commandments in Anaheim

Noble Ale Works - April 2015The other night, I led a discussion on the Ten Commandments for young adults in Orange County. As part of my monthly “Beer, Bible, & Brewery” series with young adults (20s-30s), this event focussed on the Ten Commandments and their place within Judaism. The event took place at Noble Ale Works in Anaheim and was the third such event in the series this spring.

At the opening gathering of Hillel International's Circles of Educational Excellence

Initial Meeting of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence [Throwback Thursday]

At the opening gathering of Hillel International's Circles of Educational Excellence
At the opening gathering of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence

In December, immediately prior to Hillel International’s General Assembly, I took part in the first meetings of the first cohort of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence. Beginning on Sunday night with some introductory activities, the group got going in earnest on Monday morning, continuing on through mid-afternoon.

Consisting of the executive directors and rabbis/Jewish educators of nine Hillels in addition to some other staff leading the group, my wife and I representing Beach Hillel were the only Hillel from the western half of the US. The other eight were comprised of five Hillels from the Midwest and three from the northeast.

A historical discussion about the Senior Jewish Educator program
A historical discussion about the Senior Jewish Educator program

While it was not a frontal presentation, it relied heavily on leveraging the shared experience and brainpower of the group to help generate ideas and share what we do.

An interesting treat was to hear from some people who had been involved with the Senior Jewish Educator project, both from Hillel SIC, individual Hillels, and the Jim Joseph Foundation. It was quite informative to hear about its history and about different models of its deployment.

Eric Fingerhut addressing the group
Eric Fingerhut addressing the group

We also got to be visited by Eric Fingerhut and have him speak to our group, which was nice to have him express his interest in this initiative.

We then split up into three different groups according to how roughly similar our campuses were, which was interesting. After that, we mapped out our campuses and our assets, and then we moved to developing an educational experiment with measurable outcomes.

Unfortunately, due to time, we were unable to come back together to share what our educational experiments were with the other groups to bounce our ideas off of each other, to strengthen them. It would definitely have been great if we had had the time even to just get back into the sub-groups to share our ideas and to see how they would be and be sharpened.

We then bid each other adieu and off to Hillel International’s first-ever General Assembly.

With Chapman, CSULB, and UCI students during Passover

Visiting Chapman, CSULB, & UCI Students During Passover

With Chapman, CSULB, and UCI students during Passover
With Chapman, CSULB, and UCI students during Passover

Last week during Passover, I visited a few different campuses to hang with students during lunchtime to enjoy some matzah with them.  On Monday, I went to California State University, Long Beach to join up with Beach Hillel for their matzah gathering; on Tuesday, I went to Chapman University to join up with their Hillel; and, on Thursday, I went to University of California, Irvine to join up with their Hillel.  It was a nice opportunity to get various students together and to schmooze with them over some matzah, while celebrating Passover.

Visiting OC Moishe House - April 2015

A Visit to the Moishe House of Orange County

Visiting OC Moishe House - April 2015
With young adults last night at the Moishe House of Orange County

Last night, I went to the Moishe House of Orange County to lead a discussion on “Is there More to Being Jewish than Just Holidays?” Although I have spoken at Moishe House of Orange County multiple times, this was my second time speaking at their new location (their third such location), the previous time being this past fall.

One thing I have noticed amongst young adults is that they are interested in discussing Jewish holidays, which is great, although it tends to stop there, so I wanted to push them to think about their Jewish identity and practices beyond holidays. We got to discussing some possible future discussion topics, which sounds encouraging. It was also nice to be there with a group that is enthusiastic to learn and grapple with various Jewish matters.  I’m looking forward to future visits :)

Seder-Aid 2015

Seder-Aid Event Prepares Young Adults for Passover Seder

Seder-Aid 2015
Seder-Aid 2015

Last week, I led a conversation for young adults to go over the Passover Seder(s) in order to mentally prepare for it. Taking place in Long Beach on the Sunday prior to the holiday, I led a relaxed conversation (over beer – something we would not be enjoying during the holiday), going over the elements of the Passover Seder(s) and to get people ready for what would be taking place.