Category Archives: Activities

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….

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!

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.

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.

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.