Tag Archives: Texts and Tippling

Scotch-Tasting Completes 2014-2015 Texts & Tasting Series

People at Islay Scotch-tastingOn Sunday, I held the fourth and final “Texts and Tasting” event of the 2014-2015 year. “Scotches & Second” featured Islay Scotches alongside learning about the second commandment.

Scotches set out with some of the snacksThe Islay Scotches – Bruichladdich Scottish Barley, Kilchoman, Lagavulin 16, and Laphroaig 18 – were graciously sponsored by Rachel Tichauer at New York Life.

The participants definitely enjoyed being exposed to Islay Scotches, especially their quite peatey character!  As to the Second Commandment, it was fascinating to explore it.

Some New Changes for Tonight’s “Texts & Tasting” Event

Bottles of rye whiskey sponsored for tonight's event
Bottles of rye whiskey sponsored for tonight’s event

Tonight, I will be hosting a rye whiskey-tasting and discussion of Jewish texts in Long Beach.  While I have, over the past two years conducted ten such events, in a bimonthly fashion, tonight’s event will involve some new aspects.

Moreover, inasmuch as my series focuses on three primary objectives – (1) educating about various spirits, (2) taking a deeper dive into the Jewish tradition than either I or attendees may usually get to experience, and (3) raising funds for my various professional activities – this final category usually does not do tremendously well.  Sure, donations come in sometimes, but it tends to be hit-or-miss as far as coming out ahead, financially.  One thing, I realized a while back, is instead of having people sponsor the entire tasting, it would be easier for them to sponsor bottles.  However, over the past several tastings, usually only a couple of bottles get sponsored, so it’s still a fundraising gamble. For tonight’s event, I made sure that the bottles I purchased were sponsored (and other people have purchased bottles to bring, as well), which would assure the event of successfully achieving goal #3.

Additionally, while I have made the first ten “Texts & Tasting” events essentially free, I am requesting attendees make a minimum donation of $20 (or, if they’re a student, only $10).  Not only does this minimum donation help with achieving goal #3 of the series, but it does something else.  I have heard other Jewish educators discuss the need for charging for the content they are bringing to their classes, as well as, of course, their time and effort.  Of course, there is a certain anxiety about doing so, as well: will people come if they have to pay?  Inasmuch as it may turn some people away, it also sends a clear message: there is a value to this material and content.

Finally, an interesting content experiment I’m doing is to cull sources from various classes I’ve done with Hillels and young adults in order to give folks who may not typically get the opportunity to engage directly with the material I use for discussions with students and young adults.   I’m hoping that attendees will appreciate that exposure; of course, it’s culling from several different classes I’ve run, so it should have more content than a regular Hillel or young adult class.

Now, I’m excited for tonight’s learning event!

Learning about Hanukah Candle-Lighting and Irish Whiskey-Tasting

IMG_7784 - CopyThe second “Texts & Tasting” event of 2014-2015 took place last night in Long Beach. Combining learning through texts from the Talmud to the Shulhan Arukh and beyond with an Irish whiskey-tasting, more than fifteen people attended this enjoyable event. I was glad to be able to facilitate the learning, which centered on how many candles we light and how we light the candles of Hanukah, which was appropriate for the current festival of Hanukah.

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Stay tuned for the next “Texts & Tasting” event for February 2015.

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).

“Gin & Genocide”

DSCN6884 Last night, a fundraising event for SoCalJSS/SoCalJYAE was held in Long Beach. Entitled “Gin & Genocide” was the third of this year’s series of texts and tippling. Featuring a discussion on genocide in the Jewish tradition, considering Amalek, Midian, and the seven Canaanite nations, Rabbi Drew steered the conversation eventually to the current day post-Holocaust reality where Jews and Jewish organizations were at the forefront in America striving to do what they could in raising their voices against what the Janjaweed were doing in Darfur.


Eden Banarie, the youth engagement coordinator for Jewish World Watch (JWW), came and spoke about some of the present-day issues going on in Congo and Darfur and what JWW was doing about it, as well as promoting the upcoming Walk to End Genocide, taking place in, among other places, Orange County. Walkers can go with my team.  “It’s a bit of a trip to see how many times we’re mandated to commit genocide, as I’m working for a Jewish nonprofit that’s working to stop genocide!” Banarie said.  “It was very thought-provoking.”
gins from Instagram
At the tasting, four gins were served, finishing off with Hendrick’s, which was generously sponsored by Kenneth Schlesinger.  Tonics were also provided. The event was nicely hosted by Betty Ann & Larry Fell.

“Scotches & Separation” Explores Divorce in the Jewish Tradition

20140112_201703On Sunday, I led a Scotch-tasting and learning event for adults. This was the second in a 2013-2014 series that combines a spirits-tasting, in-depth exploration of a topic in Jewish tradition and an opportunity for people to give tzedakah to the Jewish enrichment endeavors for young adult Jews with which I am involved, SoCalJSS & SoCalJYAE.

This event, “Scotches & Separation”, featured a discussion on a topic in Judaism that gets discussed much less than it deserves, divorce. Even if someone, themself, is not divorced, they may have friends or family who get divorced and it is unfortunate that there are either none or few classes or serious conversations about It.  In putting together sources on the topic, I was impressed by how much material there is on the topic!

Scotches for the tasting
Scotches for the tasting

This being the sixth such event in the series, it was also the most well-attended, with roughly two-dozen people there! Amongst some of the gathered were a few people who had either gone through, or were going through, a divorce. I was glad I was able to provide a framework in providing some wisdom from our Jewish tradition on the matter.

In addition to the discussion was a Scotch-tasting. Although last year, we did have a single-malt Scotch-tasting, this featured both blended Scotches and single-malts, in order to enable people to experience differences between and amongst them. There were three blended Scotches, two of which were brought by attendees (thank you, Seth Groder & Larry Fell), and four single-malt Scotches – Laphroaig 10 (generously sponsored by Professor Jeffrey Blutinger), Glenfiddich 12, The Macallan 15 & The Glenlivet 18.DSCN6868

Snacks were graciously provided by the hosts, Shmueli and Devorah Lovitch.  The next such tasting and texts event, “Gin and Genocide”, will be taking place next month on February 9th.