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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.