Category Archives: Activities

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

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 (3)

“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" were great on Sunday night!

“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….

Bottles of rye whiskey sponsored for tonight's event

Some New Changes for Tonight’s “Texts & Tasting” Event

Bottles of rye whiskey sponsored for tonight's event
Bottles of rye whiskey sponsored for tonight’s event

Tonight, I will be hosting a rye whiskey-tasting and discussion of Jewish texts in Long Beach.  While I have, over the past two years conducted ten such events, in a bimonthly fashion, tonight’s event will involve some new aspects.

Moreover, inasmuch as my series focuses on three primary objectives – (1) educating about various spirits, (2) taking a deeper dive into the Jewish tradition than either I or attendees may usually get to experience, and (3) raising funds for my various professional activities – this final category usually does not do tremendously well.  Sure, donations come in sometimes, but it tends to be hit-or-miss as far as coming out ahead, financially.  One thing, I realized a while back, is instead of having people sponsor the entire tasting, it would be easier for them to sponsor bottles.  However, over the past several tastings, usually only a couple of bottles get sponsored, so it’s still a fundraising gamble. For tonight’s event, I made sure that the bottles I purchased were sponsored (and other people have purchased bottles to bring, as well), which would assure the event of successfully achieving goal #3.

Additionally, while I have made the first ten “Texts & Tasting” events essentially free, I am requesting attendees make a minimum donation of $20 (or, if they’re a student, only $10).  Not only does this minimum donation help with achieving goal #3 of the series, but it does something else.  I have heard other Jewish educators discuss the need for charging for the content they are bringing to their classes, as well as, of course, their time and effort.  Of course, there is a certain anxiety about doing so, as well: will people come if they have to pay?  Inasmuch as it may turn some people away, it also sends a clear message: there is a value to this material and content.

Finally, an interesting content experiment I’m doing is to cull sources from various classes I’ve done with Hillels and young adults in order to give folks who may not typically get the opportunity to engage directly with the material I use for discussions with students and young adults.   I’m hoping that attendees will appreciate that exposure; of course, it’s culling from several different classes I’ve run, so it should have more content than a regular Hillel or young adult class.

Now, I’m excited for tonight’s learning event!

Leading a discussion last night on romance in the book of Genesis at Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer, Bible, & Brewery” Series Restarts

Leading a discussion last night on romance in the book of Genesis at Bottle Logic Brewing
Leading a discussion last night on romance in the book of Genesis at Bottle Logic Brewing
Last night, I led a discussion on romance in the book of Genesis for young adults at an Orange County brewery. Restarting the monthly “Beer, Bible, and Brewery” series for young adults in their 20s-30s, last night’s event took place at the one-year old Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim. I decided to look at scenes of romance in the book of Genesis, in particular, because it has a few of them. However, I did also refer to the most romantic book in the Bible, Song of Songs/Solomon. I chose the topic for this event, since romance has been a popular topic of interest in February.

Next month’s “Beer, Bible, & Brewery” event will be taking place at The Bruery in Orange County.

Leading a Torah on Tap discussion at CSULB last week for Beach Hillel

Discussion for Beach Hillel on Sex in Judaism

Leading a Torah on Tap discussion at CSULB last week for Beach Hillel
Leading a Torah on Tap discussion at CSULB last week for Beach Hillel

Last week, I led a Torah on Tap discussion with California State University, Long Beach students for Beach Hillel.  As it was not only going to be Valentine’s Day, so a lot of people were hearing about relationships and sex, as well as the day before the theatrical release of Fifty Shades of Grey, so people were curious to hear about sex.

For the first half of the discussion, we utilized sources from the Talmud on consensuality and sex.  For the second half of the conversation, the students got to have an open Q&A (similar to last spring) about sex and Judaism.

This was the first of three Torah on Tap learning events of the semester with Beach Hillel this spring.

IMG_7784 - Copy

Learning about Hanukah Candle-Lighting and Irish Whiskey-Tasting

IMG_7784 - CopyThe second “Texts & Tasting” event of 2014-2015 took place last night in Long Beach. Combining learning through texts from the Talmud to the Shulhan Arukh and beyond with an Irish whiskey-tasting, more than fifteen people attended this enjoyable event. I was glad to be able to facilitate the learning, which centered on how many candles we light and how we light the candles of Hanukah, which was appropriate for the current festival of Hanukah.

IMG_7770 - Copy
Stay tuned for the next “Texts & Tasting” event for February 2015.

My first Monthly Minute

November 2014 Monthly Minute

My first Monthly Minute
My first Monthly Minute
Having been inspired a few weeks ago to post videos about my work, I have begun a new project. I am calling it my “Monthly Minute”, whereby I post a video lasting 60 seconds or less wherein I describe highlights of my work in the previous month.

I just posted the first video, describing highlights of my work in November 2014, which is available here:

Since it is my first attempt at this new endeavor, it is a bit choppy and I had to edit it down a lot, but I hope to make it smoother in the future.

Pizza in the Hut at CSULB

Sukkot Activities with Beach Hillel

With students at CSULB upon putting up the sukkah
With students at CSULB upon putting up the sukkah

Last month, in addition to leading a discussion for young adults in Orange County, I was involved in several of Beach Hillel‘s activities for Sukkot.

For starters, I worked with students and staff to put up the on-campus sukkah at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), as well as to take it down.  Although we made this sukkah available for use by students, faculty, and staff on-campus, we also used it for a “Pizza in the Hut” lunchtime get-together during the holiday.  We also had a staff meeting in the sukkah, as well.

Pizza in the Hut at CSULB
Pizza in the Hut at CSULB

I also helped put up the off-campus sukkah, as well as taking it down,  where we held Shabbat dinner during the holiday, which had a nice feeling to it, being outside in the nice weather.

Finally, we had the annual Sukkah Hop, which, for the third year in a row, was held in Irvine.  Beach Hillel partnered again with Chabad at University of California, Irvine (UCI) for a great time with students from UCI, CSULB, and other schools, to visit multiple sukkot, ending up in a dinner at a big sukkah with music and dancing.