Category Archives: Beach 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.

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.

Discussing Judging with Beach Hillel

It was great to lead a discussion with a dozen students yesterday
It was great to lead a discussion with a dozen students yesterday

Yesterday, I led a discussion with a dozen students at California State University, Long Beach for Beach Hillel on the topic of judging. Appropriate for the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah – the Jewish New Year, also known as Yom HaDin – the Day of Judgment, we discussed judging.  As a way to ground our conversation, I had gathered over a half-dozen texts from the Mishnah and the Talmud for conversing about how our Sages considered judging.

For the 2014-2015 academic year,  Beach Hillel is holding a monthly Jewish learning opportunity in the form of a “Torah on Tap”-style class and I lead the discussion on a Jewish topic, while Beach Hillel covers the first round of drinks.   For this first “Torah on Tap” discussion of the academic year, I though that “judging” would be an interesting topic to cover, since many university students discuss judging and how right or wrong it is.

One thing I wanted to push was the very important rabbinic dictum, which appears several times in rabbinic literature, of hevy dan haverkha lekhaf zekhut – judge your fellow person favorably (in other words, giving people the benefit of the doubt), about which I have written elsewhere.

With this first class of the year for Beach Hillel, I am excited for future such classes with students 🙂

Leading Discussions with SoCal Hillels this Spring

Speaking with California State University, Fullerton students in March about Purim
Speaking with California State University, Fullerton students in March about Purim

As the spring semester is wrapping up, I wanted to share which discussions I have led at which campuses here in Southern California, through my current position as rabbi of Southern California Jewish Student Services. I will start off with my two discussions at California State University, Fullerton with the Hillel group there, where I led a text-based discussion about dreams in February and spoke about Purim in March.

With Occidental College students - April 2014
With Occidental College students

In April, I visited the Hillel group at Occidental College for the first time, where I got to learn about the campus culture there and, specifically, their Hillel.  We then engaged in a question-and-answer session, with the students peppering me with some tough queries.

Speaking at California State University, Long Beach in February
Speaking at California State University, Long Beach in February

Finally, I led three “Torah on Tap” discussions at California State University, Long Beach in collaboration with Long Beach Hillel. The first of these in February, in advance of St. Valentine’s Day, was a text-based discussion on finding one’s partner.  The second was a question-and-answer conversation in March about sex. And the third  was a text-based discussion on “pious fools” in April. I was glad I was able to lead these discussions in Fullerton, Long Beach, and Occidental and greatly enjoyed being able to share Jewish wisdom with these college students 🙂

Classes with Hillels this Fall

This fall, I had the pleasure of leading four different discussions with a few Hillels on various topics.

The first was in October at a Starbucks in Oceanside with North County, San Diego Hillel, leading a discussion with MiraCosta College students on the topic of Relationships, where we explored texts from the beginning of the book of Genesis as well as rabbinic wisdom from the Talmud.

rabbi-drew-speaking-about-dreams
Speaking about dreams with students at California State University, Long Beach last month

The second and third were at The Nugget at California State University, Long Beach, with Long Beach Hillel, as “Torah on Tap” events.  The first was in October on the topic of graveyards, where we explored rabbinic statements and stories from the Talmud about cemetaries.  The second was in November on the topic of dreams, exploring stories about Joseph in the following week’s Torah reading as well as rabbinic sayings from the Talmud.

rabbi-drew-speaking-at-csuf-dec-2013
Speaking with students at California State University, Fullerton this month on the topic of Hanukah

The fourth discussion was held at California State University, Fullerton in the courtyard at the Titan Student Union in December with Orange County Hillel.  With Orange County Hillel supplying yummy Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the seventh day of Hanukah, I spoke about various practices of Hanukah, such as lighting of the Hanukah menorah, dreidel-spinning, and eating oily foods.

I enjoy sharing our heritage and traditions with our young university students – I am glad to be able to serve in this role for our people 🙂

Working a Lot with Beach Hillel This Fall

End Users Aug-Oct 2013 Hours
“End Users”, August-October 2013
???????????????????????????????
With students at Beach Hillel’s on-campus sukkah, following our having put it up

This fall, I have found that I have been spending a lot of my work with/for Beach Hillel.  To be specific, about 62.5% of my energy has focused on working with Beach Hillel.  In contrast to throughout out last year where 44% of my time was with Beach Hillel, this is definitely a big jump.  However, just like last year, when I spent a lot of holiday activities, especially with Sukkot, my time oriented primarily to be with Beach Hillel, just like this year with Sukkot.

Total Aug-Oct 2013 Hours
Total Time Breakdown, August-October 2013

It is also not surprising since I realized at this year’s annual Hillel staff conference that I would be spending more time endeavoring with Beach Hillel, whether in overseeing our social media intern, running staff learning sessions, or meeting more frequently with students.

Comparison of End User Time as a Percentage - Augusts through Octobers 2011-2013
Comparison of End User Time as a Percentage – Augusts through Octobers 2011-2013

However, I did the math and it turns out that, yes, my fall season tends to be heavier with Long Beach Hillel than perhaps the rest of the year, largely due to spending most of my time during the holidays with Long Beach Hillel.  However, this year was the most I’ve spent with Long Beach Hillel in this time span in the last few years (I did not include the fall of 2010, since it was a bit tricky to deal with the data (but it does exist)).

Time Used Chart - August - October 2011-2013
A Comparison of Total Time Used, Augusts-Octobers, 2011-2013

Unsurprisingly, I’ve spent less time with non-Long Beach Hillels the past couple of years, since I stopped serving as the Hillel staff member at CSU-Fullerton.  Interestingly, the past couple of years have yielded a fair amount of time with young adults, more so than previously (if we were to compare this with 2010, I’m sure 2012 and 2013 would be a lot more than 2010).

In sum, we shall see how the next few months go, especially as I work more with young adults and winter break arrives….