While I pointed out that justice occurs hundreds of times in the Bible, I also made sure to highlight two fundamental verses which I thought were significant: Leviticus 19.15 (“לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל, בַּמִּשְׁפָּט–לֹא-תִשָּׂא פְנֵי-דָל, וְלֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדוֹל: בְּצֶדֶק, תִּשְׁפֹּט עֲמִיתֶךָ.”) and Deuteronomy 16.20 (“צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף”)
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.
Last night, I spoke on an interfaith panel on the topic of climate change and environmental stewardship, representing the Jewish perspective.
Taking place at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), the panel discussion was put together by the nascent Interfaith Project at CSULB. Questions under consideration for the panel were such as “What attitudes toward climate change do you encounter in your religious context or in the religious tradition you study – skepticism, apathy, concern, activism?” and “What responsibility do humans have, according to your religious tradition, for the care of the environment/[creation]?”
Having been involved with Jewish environmental groups, it was a great opportunity for me to share some of our tradition on this matter.
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