Having a Blast: “Bourbons & Blasting”

A "blast" was had by all
A “blast” was had by all

Last night, I led a discussion on shofar-blasting for Rosh HaShanah, which was cheerfully accompanied by a bourbon-tasting. Continuing on with the bimonthly series I began two years ago with a spirits-tasting and learning opportunity, last night’s event focussed on various aspects of shofar-blasting, just in time ahead of Rosh HaShanah this week, to provide participants with a better sense of the mitzvah of shofar-blasting on the holiday.

Bourbons pre- and post-consumption
Bourbons pre- and post-consumption

Participants were treated to four different bourbons, three of which were supplied by participants. The next event in the tasting series will be taking place on Sunday 9 November; topic and spirit TBD (suggestions are welcome).

Speaking with CSUF Students about Rosh HaShanah

Speaking with students yesterday at Cal State Fullerton about Rosh HaShanah
Speaking with students yesterday at Cal State Fullerton about Rosh HaShanah (Photo courtesy of Lihi Gordon)

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with students at California State University, Fullerton about the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah.  In collaboration with Orange County Hillel, I spoke during their weekly “Throw Bagel Thursday” event in the Titan Student Union, discussing aspects about the holiday, which will be coming up next week.  I was glad that these students were able to get some mental preparation for The Jewish New Year.

Discussion on High Holidays in Orange County with Young Adults

A dozen young adults joined in a discussion with me last night in Orange County
A dozen young adults joined in a discussion with me last night in Orange County

Last night, I led a discussion for young adults regarding Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the “High Holidays”, in the Torah.  Part of my “Bible & Brewery” series, visiting different breweries in the greater Orange County-Long Beach area, while exploring Biblical sections, this event took place at The Bruery in Placentia.

Young adult attendees came from Long Beach, Anaheim, and Costa Mesa to join in on this conversation, helping them get mentally ready for the upcoming holidays!

Helping High School Seniors with Divrei Torah

Yesterday, I took part in a really neat program that a local Jewish school ran.  Tarbut v’Torah in Irvine has its high school seniors deliver a d’var Torah on a given parashah at some point during the school year.  To help them with their speeches, Tarbut v’Torah invited various rabbis from the area to come in and to have the students bounce their thoughts, questions, and ideas on their assigned parshiyot off of them.

The set-up was a round robin “Speed-dating”-style, wherein each student got 7 minutes with various rabbis in a total time-span of just under an hour-and-a-half, which focussed the conversations and allowed the students to be able to interact with and inquire of different rabbis to get different perspectives on their topics.

I enjoyed it, not only because I enjoyed helping out these students in thinking about their respective sections of Torah, but also because it pushed me to deal with questions I wouldn’t have otherwise have considered. I was glad to have helped out  with their divrei Torah and wish them the best in their developing of their divrei Torah.

Discussing Judging with Beach Hillel

It was great to lead a discussion with a dozen students yesterday
It was great to lead a discussion with a dozen students yesterday

Yesterday, I led a discussion with a dozen students at California State University, Long Beach for Beach Hillel on the topic of judging. Appropriate for the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah – the Jewish New Year, also known as Yom HaDin – the Day of Judgment, we discussed judging.  As a way to ground our conversation, I had gathered over a half-dozen texts from the Mishnah and the Talmud for conversing about how our Sages considered judging.

For the 2014-2015 academic year,  Beach Hillel is holding a monthly Jewish learning opportunity in the form of a “Torah on Tap”-style class and I lead the discussion on a Jewish topic, while Beach Hillel covers the first round of drinks.   For this first “Torah on Tap” discussion of the academic year, I though that “judging” would be an interesting topic to cover, since many university students discuss judging and how right or wrong it is.

One thing I wanted to push was the very important rabbinic dictum, which appears several times in rabbinic literature, of hevy dan haverkha lekhaf zekhut – judge your fellow person favorably (in other words, giving people the benefit of the doubt), about which I have written elsewhere.

With this first class of the year for Beach Hillel, I am excited for future such classes with students 🙂