Tag Archives: featured

“Ryes & Relationships” Was Greatly Enjoyable [Texts & Tasting]

"Ryes & Relationships" were great on Sunday night!
“Ryes & Relationships” were great on Sunday night!

The other night, I put on another event in the “Texts & Tastings” series featuring rye whiskey. In addition to a focus on the spirit, “Rye & Relationships”, also showcased various gems of wisdom from our Talmudic sages regarding relationships. As I had written prior to the event, I was able to expose participants to my materials that I usually do with college students and young adults, although – as opposed to those events – we had more time and were able to cover much more material.

Rye Whiskies predrinking
I arranged the material into four categories: 1) Coupling and Matchmaking, 2) Treating one’s wife/spouse, 3) Sex & Relationships, and 4) Consensuality of Sex.

Rye Whiskies at the end of the evening
Rye Whiskies at the end of the evening

As opposed to the past two previous years of the “Texts & Tastings” series which alternated between whiskies and other spirits, this year’s series has been entirely whiskies. The next “Texts & Tastings” event will be Scotch….

Discussion for Beach Hillel on Sex in Judaism

Leading a Torah on Tap discussion at CSULB last week for Beach Hillel
Leading a Torah on Tap discussion at CSULB last week for Beach Hillel

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.

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.

Sukkot Activities with Beach Hillel

With students at CSULB upon putting up the sukkah
With students at CSULB upon putting up the sukkah

Last month, in addition to leading a discussion for young adults in Orange County, I was involved in several of Beach Hillel‘s activities for Sukkot.

For starters, I worked with students and staff to put up the on-campus sukkah at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), as well as to take it down.  Although we made this sukkah available for use by students, faculty, and staff on-campus, we also used it for a “Pizza in the Hut” lunchtime get-together during the holiday.  We also had a staff meeting in the sukkah, as well.

Pizza in the Hut at CSULB
Pizza in the Hut at CSULB

I also helped put up the off-campus sukkah, as well as taking it down,  where we held Shabbat dinner during the holiday, which had a nice feeling to it, being outside in the nice weather.

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.

Discussion at CSULB Focussed on Conduct of War in the Torah

On Monday, I spoke with students about conducting war in the Torah at CSULB for Beach Hillel
On Monday, I spoke with students about conducting war in the Torah at CSULB for Beach Hillel

On Monday, I led a text-based conversation for Long Beach Hillel at California State University, Long Beach on what the Torah says about conducting war. We focussed on several passages from the book of Deuteronomy, in which we see the most about this topic. The topic was chosen for the monthly “Torah on Tap” since it was the day before Veteran’s Day, which had us thinking about those serving in battle.

Discussion of Sexual Positions in Judaism

Discussion on Sex Positions in Talmud - November 2014 - CopyLast night, I led a discussion for young adults on sexual positions in Judaism, which was a lively conversation.  As part of my work enriching the lives of young adults, sex comes up not infrequently.  So, in a Long Beach version of a discussion I led over a year-and-a-half ago in Orange County, I invited young adults to share some beer and discuss this topic at an apartment of a couple of young adults (who had just moved in), utilizing Talmudic sources in this conversation.  It was a great atmosphere to have the conversation and I am glad we were able to have it!

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.

Speaking on Interfaith Panel at CSULB on Climate Change

Speaking on an interfaith panel at CSULB last night on climate change
Speaking on an interfaith panel at CSULB last night on climate change

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.

“Witches and Brews 2” in Orange County

Witches and Brews 2 October 2014Upon popular request at the end of Wednesday’s “Witches & Brews” event as part of my “Bible & Brewery” series, I held a sequel event in Orange County.  Returning to Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton, “Witches & Brews 2” featured an exploration of texts from rabbinic literature on witches and witchcraft.

Some texts that provided a lot of fodder for conversation were the story about Shimon ben Shetah’s hanging of 80 witches in Ashkelon, the criteria for determining who is a witch, and other stories about witchcraft.  It was a great evening and opportunity for young adults to engage with these texts from our tradition!

Discussing Sukkot at the New Moishe House of Orange County

20141013_192804 - Copy
(Picture courtesy of Sarah Van Zanten)

Last week, I visited the new Moishe House of Orange County and spoke about the holiday of Sukkot with young adults.  Having spoken at the previous Moishe House of Orange County several times last year and several times the year before, it was my first time at the new location of the Moishe House, which, like the previous location, is also in Costa Mesa.

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(Picture courtesy of Sarah Van Zanten)

On Tuesday, I spoke largely about the mitzvah is doing various activities within a sukkah during the holiday, what constitutes a sukkah, why we do it, and more.  I also spoke about the four arboreal species that we take, as well.

It was a great time and I look forward to returning to enrich the Jewish lives of young adults in Orange County at the Moishe House!