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.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

“Beer, Bible & Brewery” Return Visit to The Bruery Features a Tour

The Bruery - March 2015Last night, as part of the monthly “Bible, Beer, and Brew” series, we visited The Bruery in Placentia.  Having visited in the fall, this time, we had the opportunity to talk with The Bruery’s chief financial officer, Carl Katz, who led us on a tour of The Bruery.

Katz led us on a tour of The Bruery and discussed how they produce about 100 different beers every year, some of which are exclusive to their three membership clubs.  He also let us know that they plan on opening up a new tasting room later this year, featuring sour ales.

Carl Katz leading a tour at The Bruery
Carl Katz leading a tour at The Bruery

Everyone who attended greatly enjoyed it and this was definitely a special experience as part of the monthly series.  It was also the first time in the series that we have met at a brewery with someone who works at that brewery to tell us about their products.  Also, it was a special treat not only to hear from someone so high up in the brewery, but also to have a free round of incredible beers on The Bruery. Everybody came away enjoying the experience and, of course, being enamored with The Bruery’s special beer offerings.

Torah on Tap Discussion on Kosher Food with Beach Hillel

Leading a discussion for Beach Hillel on Thursday on kosher food in the Torah
Leading a discussion for Beach Hillel on Thursday on kosher food in the Torah

By student request, I led a discussion on kosher food for Beach Hillel on Thursday. Taking place at The Nugget on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, I led a discussion on the fundamentals of kosher food as found in the Torah (a/k/a the Five Books of Moses), with a primary focus on Leviticus, chapter 11.

With CSULB students at a discussion for Beach Hillel on Thursday on kosher food in the Torah
With CSULB students at a discussion for Beach Hillel on Thursday on kosher food in the Torah

This Torah on Tap event was the second of three monthly such events taking place for Beach Hillel this semester, just as we had done in the fall semester. Last month, with St. Valentine’s Day being in the popular consciousness, we discussed sex and consensuality in the Talmud.

“Tasting the Forbidden Fruit” Allows Young Adults to Engage with Texts and Food

Tasting the Forbidden Fruit (3)What was the fruit that Adam and Eve consumed in the Garden of Eden that got them kicked out? The other night, I led a text-based discussion with young adults in Long Beach on this topic.Tasting the Forbidden Fruit (4) - Copy

Beginning with the primary texts in the Book of Genesis, we then explored what rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud and Genesis Rabbah had to say on the matter. We then had the opportunity to taste such possibilities.

“Ryes & Relationships” Was Greatly Enjoyable [Texts & Tasting]

"Ryes & Relationships" were great on Sunday night!
“Ryes & Relationships” were great on Sunday night!

The other night, I put on another event in the “Texts & Tastings” series featuring rye whiskey. In addition to a focus on the spirit, “Rye & Relationships”, also showcased various gems of wisdom from our Talmudic sages regarding relationships. As I had written prior to the event, I was able to expose participants to my materials that I usually do with college students and young adults, although – as opposed to those events – we had more time and were able to cover much more material.

Rye Whiskies predrinking
I arranged the material into four categories: 1) Coupling and Matchmaking, 2) Treating one’s wife/spouse, 3) Sex & Relationships, and 4) Consensuality of Sex.

Rye Whiskies at the end of the evening
Rye Whiskies at the end of the evening

As opposed to the past two previous years of the “Texts & Tastings” series which alternated between whiskies and other spirits, this year’s series has been entirely whiskies. The next “Texts & Tastings” event will be Scotch….