Category Archives: Activities

My New Job in Cincinnati

Since moving to Cincinnati this summer, I have taken on a new, fascinating, innovative, and unique job. While I described it on my first day on the job, I wanted to describe it a bit further here.

With a job title of Director of Community Engagement and Development, I am the sole employee of MOve2CINCY, a new initiative to grow the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati. While part of my job is oriented towards community retention, the big focus of serving as MOve2CINCY’s Director of Community Engagement and Development is recruiting Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati.

The primary geographic focus of my targeted Modern Orthodox young families will be those living in such high-density population areas such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, since Cincinnati offers key lifestyle advantages over such big city-living, yet while retaining big city amenities.

Most Modern Orthodox families in America have multiple children (Nishma 2017 survey)

The key advantages are short commutes, family-friendly community warmth, and housing affordability (especially since, as the Nishma survey of last year found that most Modern Orthodox families have three or more children, with 81% of families having two or more children). Cincinnati has major sports teams, great arts & culture around town, and many jobs available with a major corporations headquartered here, so it still retains a feel of a sizeable city.

A secondary geographic focus is in the opposite direction: recruiting Modern Orthodox families from smaller-sized Jewish communities, attracting them with our Jewish infrastructure and amenities. With a few Orthodox shuls in town, a Kollel, a mikveh, and a handful of kosher restaurants, not to mention a JCC, Jewish Federation, and much more, Cincinnati offers a healthy and meaningful Jewish lifestyle for young Modern Orthodox families, especially those coming from smaller communities.

While the position did not require someone with my rabbinic background, it certainly helps in understanding the Jewish world, organizations, and, of course, Jewish knowledge. It also, of course, helps me in tapping into rabbinic networks, which is an advantageous aspect of having hired a rabbi to fill the position. I would say that this position primarily consists of three broad areas: relationship-building, marketing, and community-building. While the marketing aspect may not have come from my rabbinic background, the other two aspects do. The job largely plays to my strengths, which I enjoy deploying in the service of this worthy effort in community growth.

One of the aspects that contributes to its uniqueness is that it is the only professional position fully dedicated to encouraging Modern Orthodox Jews to move to a particular American city. There has been a trend in recent years for Modern Orthodox Jews, largely living in the American northeast, but in other major cities, as well, looking to leave such metropolitan areas in search of more affordable housing and a kinder lifestyle for families. As such, there is a need on the behalf of families to want to leave such cities, and the Modern Orthodox community of Cincinnati wants to be on the radar of those searching and help them find what they’re looking for. Cincinnati’s Modern Orthodox community is already sizeable and is seeking to develop into a more robust such community.

And my job is to help them get there.

Starting New Job in Cincinnati Today

Today began a new chapter in my professional career, as I begin work at a new job in Ohio. My new job, in a nutshell, is to help develop the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hired by a group of committed community members, the big picture for my job is to recruit young Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati in order to reach a critical mass of families so that there could be a high school. As it currently stands, the lack of a high school option for Modern Orthodox families directly impedes growth here in Cincinnati, whether families leave when their children reach high school age or they simply stay away from moving to Cincinnati, altogether.

While there are some Modern Orthodox families who either send their children to local private schools or to Modern Orthodox schools in other cities, the lack of a Jewish high school that meets the needs of Modern Orthodox families has inhibited the community.

That’s where my work comes in – and there will be a lot of it – but I am excited to help build the Modern Orthodox community here in Cincinnati!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 🙂