Tag Archives: Classes

A "blast" was had by all

Having a Blast: “Bourbons & Blasting”

A "blast" was had by all
A “blast” was had by all

Last night, I led a discussion on shofar-blasting for Rosh HaShanah, which was cheerfully accompanied by a bourbon-tasting. Continuing on with the bimonthly series I began two years ago with a spirits-tasting and learning opportunity, last night’s event focussed on various aspects of shofar-blasting, just in time ahead of Rosh HaShanah this week, to provide participants with a better sense of the mitzvah of shofar-blasting on the holiday.

Bourbons pre- and post-consumption
Bourbons pre- and post-consumption

Participants were treated to four different bourbons, three of which were supplied by participants. The next event in the tasting series will be taking place on Sunday 9 November; topic and spirit TBD (suggestions are welcome).

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

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!

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

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 :)

In front of the RMS Queen Mary last Friday afternoon

Jewlicious Festival 2014

In front of the RMS Queen Mary last Friday afternoon
In front of the RMS Queen Mary last Friday afternoon

This past weekend, I had the honor of being one of the presenters at the tenth annual Jewlicious Festival. Taking place on the historic RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, the festival began in the late afternoon of February 28th and concluded in the late morning on March 2nd. This year was my fifth consecutive year of being involved and presenting at the festival.

In addition to helping get things ready for the festival beforehand, I also was present for the weekend and led two text-based discussions. The first of which was on Friday night, wherein I led an exploration of wisdom from our tradition around finding one’s mate, focussing on Biblical and Talmudic pieces. The second of which was on Saturday morning, concerning what not to say, wherein we examined an early rabbinic (tannaitic) piece (beraita) which provided examples of how one can transgress Lev. 25:17.

For the former, I led a discussion in a manner standard for me. However, for the latter, I decided to begin discussing it in a regular way, but then had the group break up in pairs and discuss each of the six examples from the text, rotating after each example. I was glad I was able to make it more interactive, right on the spot! After that rotating element, we all returned to discuss the previous text and what people’s thoughts on it were. It was a great way to get people moving, talking and thinking in the morning!

Moshav Band performing Saturday night at Jewlicious Festival
Moshav Band performing Saturday night at Jewlicious Festival

The rest of the weekend was pretty chill and it was great seeing a lot of faces, both new and familiar, and the Saturday night concert was the most enjoyable it has been in a few years. Also, the VIP wine-tasting aspect was really well attended and quite packed with enjoyable live music going on along with it.

At this point, I have actually been to half of the Jewlicious Festivals, all of which has been on account of my serving as the rabbi for Southern California Jewish Student Services, since my lone predecessor in the post, was Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, the creator of the festival.