Asked to discuss Shabbat prohibitions at the Orange County Moishe House, I did so last week. In my capacity as the rabbi of Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment, I led a discussion with participants on what Jews are not supposed to do on Shabbat. In the discussion, I used various key texts from the Bible, as well as some from rabbinic literature. Of course, this gave way to further discussion about more contemporary issues and I look forward to discussing these matters further with them.
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.
Having been inspired a few weeks ago to post videos about my work, I have begun a new project. I am calling it my “Monthly Minute”, whereby I post a video lasting 60 seconds or less wherein I describe highlights of my work in the previous month.
I just posted the first video, describing highlights of my work in November 2014, which is available here:
Since it is my first attempt at this new endeavor, it is a bit choppy and I had to edit it down a lot, but I hope to make it smoother in the future.
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.
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.
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.
Last night, I led a discussion for young adults regarding Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the “High Holidays”, in the Torah. Part of my “Bible & Brewery” series, visiting different breweries in the greater Orange County-Long Beach area, while exploring Biblical sections, this event took place at The Bruery in Placentia.
Young adult attendees came from Long Beach, Anaheim, and Costa Mesa to join in on this conversation, helping them get mentally ready for the upcoming holidays!
Yesterday, I took part in a really neat program that a local Jewish school ran. Tarbut v’Torah in Irvine has its high school seniors deliver a d’var Torah on a given parashah at some point during the school year. To help them with their speeches, Tarbut v’Torah invited various rabbis from the area to come in and to have the students bounce their thoughts, questions, and ideas on their assigned parshiyot off of them.
The set-up was a round robin “Speed-dating”-style, wherein each student got 7 minutes with various rabbis in a total time-span of just under an hour-and-a-half, which focussed the conversations and allowed the students to be able to interact with and inquire of different rabbis to get different perspectives on their topics.
I enjoyed it, not only because I enjoyed helping out these students in thinking about their respective sections of Torah, but also because it pushed me to deal with questions I wouldn’t have otherwise have considered. I was glad to have helped out with their divrei Torah and wish them the best in their developing of their divrei Torah.
In the summers of 2011 and 2012, I served for a few weeks at B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s International Leadership Training Conference (BBYO ILTC) as one of two Judaic Educators. While I had worked as a madrich for a few summers during college at BBYO summer programs at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp (BBPC), where ILTC (amongst other programs) was taking place (for more on my time at BBPC, see here), I had not had in mind to return. So, when a friend’s Facebook status update popped up that BBYO was looking for Jewish educators a few years ago, I decided to re-connect with my BBYO roots.
That first summer, the focus of our teaching was Jewish Heroes (the topic (but not the curriculum) was given to us), which was interesting to do something to help broaden the Jewish knowledge of these Jewish youths that was a bit atypical of Jewish educational offerings elsewhere. The second summer, the other Judaic Educator and I coordinated with another BBYO staff member to create the curriculum and core pieces to it, which was pretty neat, especially as we had all known each other previously (they had both been program participants when I was staffing in college). Two primary pieces I taught in the summer of 2012 were Israel and philanthropy.
Inasmuch as I had gone to serve as a Judaic educator, which went nicely, there were other aspects which were great. The first was the ability to also share some of my wisdom/experience from my BBYO time (even just having been in BBYO as a teenager was somehow surprising to many of them), which was a primary reason for staffing whilst I was in college.
The second was connecting with other professionals there, such as the people working for BBYO year-round. Although, it was also great connecting with the occasional guest speaker was a nice treat, as well.
The third – and perhaps the most significant – was connecting with these young up-and-coming leaders. Now, when I went, I mainly meant to impart Jewish knowledge and BBYO wisdom to them to help them in their endeavors; however, I also realized that many (most? all?) of the participants had many things going for them, especially brains and talent. While that helps them ascend in leadership positions within BBYO, think about where they will go and what they will do years down the road (5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc.) – there is a lot of potential and they will do great things. It’s not just a hypothetical proposition: I look around at peers who were in positions of leadership in BBYO as well as who attended BBYO summer leadership programs with me and I see the great things they are already doing. Imagine not only where my peers will be in another 10-15 years, but also where these participants will be. It was great to have connected with them at this level.
A fourth aspect which was great was also connecting with the madrichim, who were in college and working at BBPC for the whole summer. Similar to the high school participants, it was nice to meet these young adults and hopefully have a positive impact on them (while much different than than the high school participants).
I was certainly glad I was able to spend the time and energy connecting with all these folks in such a program and in such a setting 🙂
A question I frequently receive is “What are you up to for the summer?” As it turns out, it is not time off.
Yes, school is out, so there is no programming, per se, with university (or high school) students. However, there are occasional Shabbat dinners with Beach Hillel, meetings with young adults and college students, and other communications with them (Facebook, email, etc.).
While Beach Hillel consumed the biggest chunk of my time in June, I was able to catch up on email and other communications (especially having come off of being away from email while leading a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip), as well as spend some time on professional development, by attending a seminar on post-Birthright engagement.
Of course, the summer is also a great time for taking meetings with other professionals and setting things in-motion for the future.
Let’s see what July brings!