Last week during Passover, I visited a few different campuses to hang with students during lunchtime to enjoy some matzah with them. On Monday, I went to California State University, Long Beach to join up with Beach Hillel for their matzah gathering; on Tuesday, I went to Chapman University to join up with their Hillel; and, on Thursday, I went to University of California, Irvine to join up with their Hillel. It was a nice opportunity to get various students together and to schmooze with them over some matzah, while celebrating Passover.
Last night, I went to the Moishe House of Orange County to lead a discussion on “Is there More to Being Jewish than Just Holidays?” Although I have spoken at Moishe House of Orange County multiple times, this was my second time speaking at their new location (their third such location), the previous time being this past fall.
One thing I have noticed amongst young adults is that they are interested in discussing Jewish holidays, which is great, although it tends to stop there, so I wanted to push them to think about their Jewish identity and practices beyond holidays. We got to discussing some possible future discussion topics, which sounds encouraging. It was also nice to be there with a group that is enthusiastic to learn and grapple with various Jewish matters. I’m looking forward to future visits 🙂
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.
Last night, as part of the monthly “Bible, Beer, and Brew” series, we visited The Bruery in Placentia. Having visited in the fall, this time, we had the opportunity to talk with The Bruery’s chief financial officer, Carl Katz, who led us on a tour of The Bruery.
Katz led us on a tour of The Bruery and discussed how they produce about 100 different beers every year, some of which are exclusive to their three membership clubs. He also let us know that they plan on opening up a new tasting room later this year, featuring sour ales.
Everyone who attended greatly enjoyed it and this was definitely a special experience as part of the monthly series. It was also the first time in the series that we have met at a brewery with someone who works at that brewery to tell us about their products. Also, it was a special treat not only to hear from someone so high up in the brewery, but also to have a free round of incredible beers on The Bruery. Everybody came away enjoying the experience and, of course, being enamored with The Bruery’s special beer offerings.
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.
Beginning with the primary texts in the Book of Genesis, we then explored what rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud and Genesis Rabbah had to say on the matter. We then had the opportunity to taste such possibilities.
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.
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….
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!
Last night, I led a discussion on romance in the book of Genesis for young adults at an Orange County brewery. Restarting the monthly “Beer, Bible, and Brewery” series for young adults in their 20s-30s, last night’s event took place at the one-year old Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim. I decided to look at scenes of romance in the book of Genesis, in particular, because it has a few of them. However, I did also refer to the most romantic book in the Bible, Song of Songs/Solomon. I chose the topic for this event, since romance has been a popular topic of interest in February.
Next month’s “Beer, Bible, & Brewery” event will be taking place at The Bruery in Orange County.
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.