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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)).
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….