“Star Wars & Judaism X: The Last Jedi” Zoom Session This Evening

The tenth in a twelve-part Star Wars & Judaism series will be taking place this evening. Taking place at 8pm over Zoom, “Star Wars & Judaism X: The Last Jedi” will incorporate scenes from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Comparing scenes from The Last Jedi with Biblical and Rabbinic texts, a discussion will ensue and, as with all of the sessions in this series, there is no charge to attend this Zoom session.

New Video & Podcast Episode: “Miriam’s Well” featuring Maharat Ruth Balinsky-Friedman

My newest podcast and video episode for JewishDrinking.com is now up! Featuring Maharat Ruth Balinsky-Friedman, “Miriam’s Well” is the topic of the episode, which is a bit amusing, since it has nothing to do with drinking of alcohol, yet it is still drinking. The podcast episode is available on Apple Podcasts and the video is available below:



Zoom Session on Star Wars & Judaism VII: The Clone Wars This Evening

The seventh in a twelve-part Star Wars & Judaism series will be taking place this evening. Taking place at 8pm EDT over Zoom, “Star Wars & Judaism VII: The Clone Wars will incorporate scenes from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Comparing scenes from The Clone Wars with Biblical and Rabbinic texts, a discussion will ensue and, as with all of the sessions in this series, there is no charge to attend this Zoom session.

If you would like to financially contribute to the supporting of this series (including Zoom costs (it’s more than a 40-minute session)), you are welcome to contribute here.

Sixth Zoom Session on Star Wars & Judaism This Evening

The sixth in a twelve-part Star Wars & Judaism series will be taking place this evening. Taking place at 8pm over Zoom, “Star Wars & Judaism VI: Revenge of the Sith” will incorporate scenes from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Comparing scenes from Revenge of the Sith with Biblical and Rabbinic texts, a discussion will ensue and, as with all of the sessions in this series, there is no charge to attend this Zoom session.

If you would like to financially contribute to the supporting of this series (including Zoom costs (it’s more than a 40-minute session)), you are welcome to contribute here.

“Textual Insights” Site Launched

Eight months ago, I launched a new site devoted to my textual explorations of Jewish texts. Silly me, though, I didn’t actually announce it back then.

So, if you haven’t noticed, I created it back at the top of 2019.

I had been thinking about doing something along those lines earlier in the winter, and finally decided to create this separate website for my textual explorations. But I hadn’t announced it then.

My main areas of focus are Rabbinic Literature, Biblical Texts, and Post-Talmudic Halakhic Texts. The primary focus has been Rabbinic Literature, but there are a handful of posts on Biblical Texts and Post-Talmudic Halakhic Texts. Yes, a heavy focus has been on alcohol-drinking, but there are some on other topics, as well.

This has been a cool space for me to share my observations, explorations, and explanations of various texts, especially my passion, rabbinic literature.

Check it out and I hope you enjoy!

My New Job in Cincinnati

Since moving to Cincinnati this summer, I have taken on a new, fascinating, innovative, and unique job. While I described it on my first day on the job, I wanted to describe it a bit further here.

With a job title of Director of Community Engagement and Development, I am the sole employee of MOve2CINCY, a new initiative to grow the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati. While part of my job is oriented towards community retention, the big focus of serving as MOve2CINCY’s Director of Community Engagement and Development is recruiting Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati.

The primary geographic focus of my targeted Modern Orthodox young families will be those living in such high-density population areas such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, since Cincinnati offers key lifestyle advantages over such big city-living, yet while retaining big city amenities.

Most Modern Orthodox families in America have multiple children (Nishma 2017 survey)

The key advantages are short commutes, family-friendly community warmth, and housing affordability (especially since, as the Nishma survey of last year found that most Modern Orthodox families have three or more children, with 81% of families having two or more children). Cincinnati has major sports teams, great arts & culture around town, and many jobs available with a major corporations headquartered here, so it still retains a feel of a sizeable city.

A secondary geographic focus is in the opposite direction: recruiting Modern Orthodox families from smaller-sized Jewish communities, attracting them with our Jewish infrastructure and amenities. With a few Orthodox shuls in town, a Kollel, a mikveh, and a handful of kosher restaurants, not to mention a JCC, Jewish Federation, and much more, Cincinnati offers a healthy and meaningful Jewish lifestyle for young Modern Orthodox families, especially those coming from smaller communities.

While the position did not require someone with my rabbinic background, it certainly helps in understanding the Jewish world, organizations, and, of course, Jewish knowledge. It also, of course, helps me in tapping into rabbinic networks, which is an advantageous aspect of having hired a rabbi to fill the position. I would say that this position primarily consists of three broad areas: relationship-building, marketing, and community-building. While the marketing aspect may not have come from my rabbinic background, the other two aspects do. The job largely plays to my strengths, which I enjoy deploying in the service of this worthy effort in community growth.

One of the aspects that contributes to its uniqueness is that it is the only professional position fully dedicated to encouraging Modern Orthodox Jews to move to a particular American city. There has been a trend in recent years for Modern Orthodox Jews, largely living in the American northeast, but in other major cities, as well, looking to leave such metropolitan areas in search of more affordable housing and a kinder lifestyle for families. As such, there is a need on the behalf of families to want to leave such cities, and the Modern Orthodox community of Cincinnati wants to be on the radar of those searching and help them find what they’re looking for. Cincinnati’s Modern Orthodox community is already sizeable and is seeking to develop into a more robust such community.

And my job is to help them get there.

Starting New Job in Cincinnati Today

Today began a new chapter in my professional career, as I begin work at a new job in Ohio. My new job, in a nutshell, is to help develop the Modern Orthodox community in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hired by a group of committed community members, the big picture for my job is to recruit young Modern Orthodox families to Cincinnati in order to reach a critical mass of families so that there could be a high school. As it currently stands, the lack of a high school option for Modern Orthodox families directly impedes growth here in Cincinnati, whether families leave when their children reach high school age or they simply stay away from moving to Cincinnati, altogether.

While there are some Modern Orthodox families who either send their children to local private schools or to Modern Orthodox schools in other cities, the lack of a Jewish high school that meets the needs of Modern Orthodox families has inhibited the community.

That’s where my work comes in – and there will be a lot of it – but I am excited to help build the Modern Orthodox community here in Cincinnati!

Speaking at Moishe House about Shabbat

Speaking at OC MoHo - June 2015Asked to discuss Shabbat prohibitions at the Orange County Moishe House, I did so last week. In my capacity as the rabbi of Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment, I led a discussion with participants on what Jews are not supposed to do on Shabbat. In the discussion, I used various key texts from the Bible, as well as some from rabbinic literature. Of course, this gave way to further discussion about more contemporary issues and I look forward to discussing these matters further with them.

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.