Tag Archives: Activities

My New Job in Cincinnati

Since moving to Cincinnati this summer, I have taken on a new, fascinating, innovative, and unique job. While I described it on my first day on the job, I wanted to describe it a bit further here.

With a job title of Director of Community Engagement and Development, I am the sole employee of MOve2CINCY, a new initiative to grow the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati. While part of my job is oriented towards community retention, the big focus of serving as MOve2CINCY’s Director of Community Engagement and Development is recruiting Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati.

The primary geographic focus of my targeted Modern Orthodox young families will be those living in such high-density population areas such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, since Cincinnati offers key lifestyle advantages over such big city-living, yet while retaining big city amenities.

Most Modern Orthodox families in America have multiple children (Nishma 2017 survey)

The key advantages are short commutes, family-friendly community warmth, and housing affordability (especially since, as the Nishma survey of last year found that most Modern Orthodox families have three or more children, with 81% of families having two or more children). Cincinnati has major sports teams, great arts & culture around town, and many jobs available with a major corporations headquartered here, so it still retains a feel of a sizeable city.

A secondary geographic focus is in the opposite direction: recruiting Modern Orthodox families from smaller-sized Jewish communities, attracting them with our Jewish infrastructure and amenities. With a few Orthodox shuls in town, a Kollel, a mikveh, and a handful of kosher restaurants, not to mention a JCC, Jewish Federation, and much more, Cincinnati offers a healthy and meaningful Jewish lifestyle for young Modern Orthodox families, especially those coming from smaller communities.

While the position did not require someone with my rabbinic background, it certainly helps in understanding the Jewish world, organizations, and, of course, Jewish knowledge. It also, of course, helps me in tapping into rabbinic networks, which is an advantageous aspect of having hired a rabbi to fill the position. I would say that this position primarily consists of three broad areas: relationship-building, marketing, and community-building. While the marketing aspect may not have come from my rabbinic background, the other two aspects do. The job largely plays to my strengths, which I enjoy deploying in the service of this worthy effort in community growth.

One of the aspects that contributes to its uniqueness is that it is the only professional position fully dedicated to encouraging Modern Orthodox Jews to move to a particular American city. There has been a trend in recent years for Modern Orthodox Jews, largely living in the American northeast, but in other major cities, as well, looking to leave such metropolitan areas in search of more affordable housing and a kinder lifestyle for families. As such, there is a need on the behalf of families to want to leave such cities, and the Modern Orthodox community of Cincinnati wants to be on the radar of those searching and help them find what they’re looking for. Cincinnati’s Modern Orthodox community is already sizeable and is seeking to develop into a more robust such community.

And my job is to help them get there.

Starting New Job in Cincinnati Today

Today began a new chapter in my professional career, as I begin work at a new job in Ohio. My new job, in a nutshell, is to help develop the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hired by a group of committed community members, the big picture for my job is to recruit young Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati in order to reach a critical mass of families so that there could be a high school. As it currently stands, the lack of a high school option for Modern Orthodox families directly impedes growth here in Cincinnati, whether families leave when their children reach high school age or they simply stay away from moving to Cincinnati, altogether.

While there are some Modern Orthodox families who either send their children to local private schools or to Modern Orthodox schools in other cities, the lack of a Jewish high school that meets the needs of Modern Orthodox families has inhibited the community.

That’s where my work comes in – and there will be a lot of it – but I am excited to help build the Modern Orthodox community here in Cincinnati!

Speaking at Moishe House about Shabbat

Speaking at OC MoHo - June 2015Asked 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.

Seder-Aid Event Prepares Young Adults for Passover Seder

Seder-Aid 2015
Seder-Aid 2015

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.

November 2014 Monthly Minute

My first Monthly Minute
My first Monthly Minute
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.

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.

Discussion on High Holidays in Orange County with Young Adults

A dozen young adults joined in a discussion with me last night in Orange County
A dozen young adults joined in a discussion with me last night in Orange County

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!

Helping High School Seniors with Divrei Torah

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.

Serving as a Judaic Educator at BBYO’s ILTC [Throwback Thursday]

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.

Teaching at ILTC 2011
Teaching at ILTC 2011

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.

Looking on while participants present at a session at ILTC 2012
Looking on while participants present at a session at ILTC 2012

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.

With the music staff at ILTC 2011 (one of whom had been a participant when I had staffed his CLTC)
With the music staff at ILTC 2011
(one of whom had been a participant when I had staffed his CLTC)

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 🙂

How Am I Spending My Summer?, part 1: June 2014

With 1/3 of the Taglit-Birthright Israel trip from this past Sunday - Birthright Follow-Up is a focus for me this summer
With 1/3 of the Taglit-Birthright Israel trip from this past Sunday – Birthright Follow-Up is a focus for me this summer

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.).

The biggest chunk of my time last month was spent working on Beach Hillel matters
The biggest chunk of my time last month was spent working on Beach Hillel matters

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!