Category Archives: Hillel

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.

Initial Meeting of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence [Throwback Thursday]

At the opening gathering of Hillel International's Circles of Educational Excellence
At the opening gathering of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence

In December, immediately prior to Hillel International’s General Assembly, I took part in the first meetings of the first cohort of Hillel International’s Circles of Educational Excellence. Beginning on Sunday night with some introductory activities, the group got going in earnest on Monday morning, continuing on through mid-afternoon.

Consisting of the executive directors and rabbis/Jewish educators of nine Hillels in addition to some other staff leading the group, my wife and I representing Beach Hillel were the only Hillel from the western half of the US. The other eight were comprised of five Hillels from the Midwest and three from the northeast.

A historical discussion about the Senior Jewish Educator program
A historical discussion about the Senior Jewish Educator program

While it was not a frontal presentation, it relied heavily on leveraging the shared experience and brainpower of the group to help generate ideas and share what we do.

An interesting treat was to hear from some people who had been involved with the Senior Jewish Educator project, both from Hillel SIC, individual Hillels, and the Jim Joseph Foundation. It was quite informative to hear about its history and about different models of its deployment.

Eric Fingerhut addressing the group
Eric Fingerhut addressing the group

We also got to be visited by Eric Fingerhut and have him speak to our group, which was nice to have him express his interest in this initiative.

We then split up into three different groups according to how roughly similar our campuses were, which was interesting. After that, we mapped out our campuses and our assets, and then we moved to developing an educational experiment with measurable outcomes.

Unfortunately, due to time, we were unable to come back together to share what our educational experiments were with the other groups to bounce our ideas off of each other, to strengthen them. It would definitely have been great if we had had the time even to just get back into the sub-groups to share our ideas and to see how they would be and be sharpened.

We then bid each other adieu and off to Hillel International’s first-ever General Assembly.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Discussion at CSULB Focussed on Conduct of War in the Torah

On Monday, I spoke with students about conducting war in the Torah at CSULB for Beach Hillel
On Monday, I spoke with students about conducting war in the Torah at CSULB for Beach Hillel

On Monday, I led a text-based conversation for Long Beach Hillel at California State University, Long Beach on what the Torah says about conducting war. We focussed on several passages from the book of Deuteronomy, in which we see the most about this topic. The topic was chosen for the monthly “Torah on Tap” since it was the day before Veteran’s Day, which had us thinking about those serving in battle.

Speaking with Redlands Hillel

Speaking with students at University of Redlands
Speaking with students at University of Redlands

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with dozens of students at University of Redlands in collaboration with their Hillel, followed up with a visit to continue the conversations at a local brewery.

On Thursday evening, I went to University of Redlands to speak with students to discuss Jewish topics of interest to them, in collaboration with its Hillel. A Question-And-Answer session ensued, with a bunch of questions thrown at me about me and my being a rabbi (it kind of felt like “Inside the Rabbi’s Studio”), followed by numerous questions about Jewish life and more.

Speaking with young adults and students at Hangar 24
Speaking with young adults and students at Hangar 24

From there, I went with about a dozen students came for a follow-up discussion about sex at Hangar 24. Despite the crowds, the noise, and our not having seats due to a busy night, we were able to have a fruitful conversation about sex in Judaism.

Speaking with students at University of Redlands
Speaking with students at University of Redlands

It was nice to be back speaking with the Hillel at Redlands, since it has been several years since I had been there and it’s a great campus and the students are very enthusiastic.

Speaking with CSUF Students about Yom Kippur

Speaking about Yom Kippur with CSUF students
Speaking about Yom Kippur with CSUF students

For the second time this semester, I had the pleasure of speaking with students at California State University – Fullerton about an upcoming holiday.  Yesterday, in collaboration with the Hillel of Orange County, I spoke with students about Yom Kippur.

Having previously spoken with them two weeks previously about Rosh HaShanah, we met up in the Titan Student Union midday to discuss various practices that we Jewish people do concerning the holiday that begins tonight and continues through tomorrow night.

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.