All posts by RabbiDrew

Beach Hillel Staff Learning Sessions: An Evolution

Two years ago at Hillel Institute, I came back with some ideas regarding Beach Hillel, one of which was to incorporate some Jewish content in each of our weekly Beach Hillel staff-and-interns meetings.  While I don’t remember from whom I heard the idea, I do remember coming back from that conference with the idea that any Jewish organizational meeting should have some element of Jewish content. In consultation with Rachel, we decided to incorporate a morsel of Jewish learning into our meetings.

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A Beach Hillel staff-and-interns meeting in the fall of 2011, incorporating Jewish learning about Hillel, the sage

That fall, all of the Jewish content pieces were Talmudic excerpts pertaining to the sage, Hillel, whether statements of his or stories about him, so that our staff and interns would be knowledgeable about our organization’s namesake, so they could respond when asked about the name of Hillel.

Last year, instead of having staff and intern meetings, we simply had staff meetings, so while we began with Hillel the sage-related Jewish content pieces (we had new staff, so we could re-use the material), we then spun off into Jewish content pieces in which our staff was interested in exploring.  It went really well and we had very involved discussions.  However, it often went too well, with the discussions on the Jewish content taking up too much time for us to effectively deal with the actual business with which we needed to deal.

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The first Beach Hillel staff learning session this fall

At this year’s Hillel Institute, I heard the Senior Jewish Educator at the Hillel at UC-Berkeley mentioning that their staff has weekly Jewish learning meetings.  I realized that having a separate staff Jewish content learning session would solve the issue of our not having sufficient time to get to the business at-hand for our meetings.  Also, it would serve not only as an opportunity for our staff to develop greater confidence in their Jewish knowledge and identity, but it would also serve as a way for us to model to our students that we, too, were engaged in Jewish learning.  Furthermore, the content often connects with holidays, which enables our staff to be able to knowledgeably discuss what they are.

Every year is something new in this regard.  I am hoping that as we hire new interns for the school year, we can also incorporate some of those morsels regarding Hillel, the sage, so that they are both aware of our organization’s namesake, as well as being Jewishly enriched.

Office Hours at CSULB

Beach Hillel logo from website smallerYesterday, I began being available on-campus at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) for office hours.  I will be there Tuesdays (September 12th UPDATE:) Wednesdays for the fall semester from 1:30-3:30 in the University Interfaith Center (Brotman Hall, room 178).  It has been a few years since I last held office hours on-campus at CSULB, but will be looking forward to being on-campus at CSULB than I have in a couple of years.  One of the reasons for not having had office hours in recent years was that I seldom had students dropping by, but at least students will know that I’m there and available for them.

Leading Discussions at Moishe House Thus Far in 2013

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Leading a discussion on Mezuzahs at the Moishe House of Orange County in January

This year, I have led several discussions at the Moishe House of Orange County, which has been a great collaborative relationship.  One of the things that makes it great is that we each bring things to the table: they bring the young adults and put out topic-appropriate foods/drinks and I bring the Jewish content.

The first in 2013 was “Margaritas & Mezuzahs: A How-To”, which was a fun event in January.

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Leading a discussion at Moishe House on Sexual Positions According to the Rabbis of the Talmud in April

The second was a part of SoCalJYAE‘s spring series on sex, on “Sexual Positions According to the Rabbis of the Talmud” in April, which was fantastic.  At the conclusion of that event, the residents suggested we push the envelope even further.

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Leading a discussion on masturbation at the Moishe House in July

Thus, resulted two summer discussions on topics that are seldom discussed in Jewish life.  The first of these was “Bloody Marys and Menstruation” in June, with the second being in July on masturbation.

It’s not clear where this great collaboration with the Moishe House of Orange County will go, but we are providing some very fresh discussions for young Jewish adults in Orange County!

No More Newsletters, Per Se: Concerning Communications

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Front page of the October 2012 issue of the SoCalJSS Newsletter

Since January 2010, I have been putting out newsletters for my job (with Southern California Jewish Student Services and also Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment), however, I have recently realized that I should discontinue doing so.  While attending the 2013 Hillel Institute, I realized that not that many people spend the time to read a double-sided 8.5×11 .pdfs I produce (even if some people read the printed copies, it’s still not enough).  It just does not seem to make sense to me to continue spending as much time as I do on dealing with the layout of the newsletters, since it’s just a hassle that does not yield enough readership attention.  While it did make sense when I was getting issues sponsored, it was worthwhile as a revenue-generator, it’s been a couple of years since I have consistently had it sponsored.

Although I will continue putting out monthly e-mails to communicate my activities, in lieu of linking to the online pdfs of the newsletters, I will be [doing what everyone else does:] linking to articles of content about the events, activities, etc.

In a related matter, I realized yesterday that although the newsletters were up on the SoCalJSS website for anyone to read to discover and get a sense of my activities with SoCalJSS (I started putting pages together for SoCalJYAE), there wasn’t an easy way to quickly discover with which activities SoCalJSS has been involved.  So, I put together some pages to detail SoCalJSS’ activities with other organizations.  While I need to further work on developing the content therein, at least they’re there 🙂

On the Foundations of my Jewish Identity

IMG_0212 - CopyToday, I published a piece on my Jewish identity on my personal blog.  In it, I primarily discuss how I got interested in living Jewishly, which was inspired by a question at a BBYO program I attended, as well as being happily surprised by finding a fellow rabbi’s articulation of his Jewish identity.  It is helpful in understanding how I relate to my Jewish identity.  I wonder if others have a similar approach.