Pirkei Avot Video Essay Series Completed

I am very excited to share that I have successfully completed my series of video essays on Pirkei Avot! Having finished up the fifth chapter last week, I have now shared insights on all five chapters of this collection of rabbinic wisdom sayings, which are available for public enjoyment.

While I created this series for sharing with residents at the senior living facility where I serve as the Director of Pastoral Care, it is also available for the broader public, as well. With my intended audience in mind, I spoke more slowly than I would normally have spoken, as well as making these texts more approachable.

I am very glad that I was able to carry this idea out to a successful completion, which took, as can be noticed, months, as I completed the first chapter by the end of January, the second chapter by the end of February, the third chapter by the end of March, the fourth chapter by early May, and the fifth chapter by mid-June. It took a while to complete, but it is finished.

I progressed steadily through Pirkei Avot, by sharing insights for several minutes each day at work on each of the texts. The 97 video essays on this significant piece of rabbinic literature will remain where they are and are not only available for the public, but I may also re-broadcast them to the residents at the senior living facility.

One thing I began doing at some point was titling the videos, broadly describing the texts that I was discussing, which should also be helpful in gaining a sense of the content.

Another thing that occurred throughout the series was gaining a better understanding of the texts within Pirkei Avot – sure, I had read through them many times, but having to sit with these texts and to explicate them to others forced me to gain a better understanding of them. I am very fortunate that I have a better handle on these dozens of texts through having undergone this process.

Once again, I am very glad and fortunate I was able to carry this idea to its successful completion and I hope you enjoy!

Video Essays on the Fifth Chapter of Pirkei Avot

Having published video essays on each of the texts in the first chapter of Pirkei Avotthe second chapter of Pirkei Avot, the third chapter of Pirkei Avot, and the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot, I am now proud to share that I have completed a series of video essays on each of the texts in the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot.

This entire series on the fifth chapter is available in this YouTube playlist.

While the video essay on the 21st text in this chapter is the longest of the entire series, the subsequent episode is one of the shortest of the series. This chapter actually yielded a few other video essays that reached double-digit minutes, largely due to the texts that utilized lists. The average length of the video essays on this chapter is 8:41.

Here is the entire series of video essays on the fifth chapter:
Pirkei Avot 5:1 – The World Was Created with 10 Statements
Pirkei Avot 5:2 – 10 Generations from Adam to Noah and 10 Generations from Noah to Abraham
Pirkei Avot 5:3 – Abraham Tested with Ten Trials
Pirkei Avot 5:4 – 10 Miracles/Plagues in Egypt & 10 More at the Sea
Pirkei Avot 5:5 – Ten Wonders Occurred for Our Ancestors in the Temple
Pirkei Avot 5:6 – The Creation of 10 Supernatural Phenomena
Pirkei Avot 5:7 – 7 Characteristics of Wise People & Uncultured People in Conversation
Pirkei Avot 5:8 – 7 Punishments & 7 Transgressions
Pirkei Avot 5:9 – Pestilence Increases at Four Periods of Time
Pirkei Avot 5:10 – Four Characteristics of People with Regard to Possessions
Pirkei Avot 5:11 – Four Temperaments of People
Pirkei Avot 5:12 – Four Types of Students
Pirkei Avot 5:13 – Four Categories of Tzedakah-Givers
Pirkei Avot 5:14 – Four Types of People Who Go To The Study House
Pirkei Avot 5:15 – Four Categories of Those Who Sit Before the Sages
Pirkei Avot 5:16 – Love That Is/Isn’t Dependent Upon Something
Pirkei Avot 5:17 – Disagreements That Are/Aren’t For the Sake of Heaven
Pirkei Avot 5:18 – Causing the Masses to Sin or Merit
Pirkei Avot 5:19 – The Disciples of Abraham & Bilam
Pirkei Avot 5:20 – Wisdom from Yehudah ben Tema
Pirkei Avot 5:21 – Different Stages at Different Ages
Pirkei Avot 5:22 – Ben Bag Bag’s Advice of Sticking with Studying the Torah
Pirkei Avot 5:23 – One’s Reward Corresponds to One’s Labor

Newest Village Art Insights Presentation: Sidra Torah Ark at The Skirball Museum
In conversation with Rabbi Shmuel Polin about the ark

I’m pleased to share the release of the newest presentation of Village Art Insights on the newest exhibit at The Skirball Museum. In addition to speaking with Jessica, my collaborator on the Village Art Insights series on the exhibit, a fully rebuilt Torah ark from 18th century Poland, we spoke with both museum director Abby Schwartz, as well as the exhibit’s creator, Rabbi Shmuel Polin for this presentation.

With Jessica

According to an article in the American Israelite, Rabbi Polin’s study of the lost ark and related material resulted in his rabbinic capstone project for graduating Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s rabbinical school. Rabbi Polin’s research coincided with a conservation project on the Polish ark in the Scheuer Chapel on the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR. Used daily by students for prayer, what began as a modest project to make the ark safe for everyday handling turned into analysis of paint and wood, and the discovery of a long-forgotten shipping label affixed to the back of the ark that revealed its specific original location of Schönlanke, Poland.

Skirball Museum director Abby Schwartz discussing the exhibition

New research conducted by Polin indicated that this precious Polish ark, which came to HUC in 1925 as part of the Berlin Judaica Collection of Salli Kirschstein, was made in about 1759. It had previously been dated about 1740. It is one of the few extant Polish arks of the eighteenth century. Soaring 20 feet high, the richly colored and symbolically reconstructed Sidra ark is a feat of imagination, engineering, and artistry.


Appearance on The Bridging Connections Podcast

While there are no new episodes of The Jewish Drinking Show this week (due to the Shavuos holiday), I am pleased to share that I appeared on a recent podcast episode, sharing about the Jewish Drinking project.

The newest episode of The Bridging Connections Podcast features me discussing the Jewish Drinking project, including The Jewish Drinking Show. The episode is available here, as well as on your favorite podcasting platform.

This is the fourth podcast appearance of mine discussing Jewish Drinking, having appeared on the 152nd episode of the Designated Drinker Show, the 28th episode of Let There Be Light, and the 17th episode of Drinking & Drashing.

Beginning to Pull Back From Providing Curated TV Content for Constituents

For the past 10 or 11 months – certainly, the majority of the time that I’ve been in my chaplaincy position, which has been during this global pandemic, I have been utilizing the in-house broadcasting channel to get content to residents. I have found and curated video content from YouTube to broadcast to the residents, especially since most of the pandemic thus far – and certainly the summer, fall, and winter – the residents were largely confined to their rooms and really weren’t able to get out, in accordance with Ohio Department of Health guidelines.

As such, it has been an important service that I provided to my constituents, providing edifying entertainment especially on and around Shabbat, although it also included holidays (Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot were pretty intense). (Yes, as I announced a couple of weeks ago, the archive of this curated content is available here.)

However, now that residents are largely no longer confined to their rooms (at least for the assisted living side of the building; the skilled nursing side is another matter, as the residents have mostly been confined there), I have decided to pull back a little on some of the programming, since the need has lessened (I also have to acknowledge a helpful conversation with a fellow Jewish communal professional that I feel helped provide me with license/encouragement to do so). However, there still remains somewhat of a need, as while the residents have a significantly greater deal of freedom, many still may be in their rooms for some of Shabbat, plus many have become accustomed to the entertainment that I curate and broadcast to them.

Whereas I have at least for the last few months been curating and scheduling programming content on Fridays from around 2pm/3pm through around 9pm, and on Saturdays from 9:30am through the afternoon, often up until around 5pm/6pm. However, I am now pulling back, beginning at 4pm on Friday afternoons and then continuing on until around 9pm, and  on Saturdays, I’ll still continue at 9:30am for the time being and then continue until only about 2pm/3pm. Once we begin holding regular Shabbat morning services, I may begin only starting the content at 11am, then continuing until around 2pm.

So, yes, this is a significant pulling back in this incredibly successful endeavor, but I’m still going to continue to provide the service for the residents in the living facility where I work. When I reflect upon this, I realize that I have probably been leading the way amongst Jewish chaplains in the country. How many others can boast such a lineup of programming for the residents via the in-house broadcasting channel throughout this pandemic? Probably very few and that puts me up – if not at the absolute top, certainly towards the top – of the field in providing this service to the residents. With this deep pride at the success of the work that I have provided to my constituents, I do admit to feeling a certain sense of sadness at stepping away from this success that I have amassed during my first year in this position. Moreover, it has been such a mainstay of my position and the work that I have been providing to the residents, that it seems strange to begin to let go of something with which I have achieved so much success.

Yet, while I am pulling back, beginning with this week’s lineup, providing around 10.5 hours worth of content, as opposed to the 15.5 hours I I have recently been providing, I still remain providing this helpful service to my constituents. I am not cold turkey-quitting this aspect of my job just yet. It will likely be a gradual process of pulling back as we begin to emerge from this pandemic.

Weekend Top

no gallery

On the Foundations of my Jewish Identity

Today, I published a piece on my Jewish identity on my personal blog.  In it, I primarily discuss how I got interested in living Jewishly, which was inspired by a question at a BBYO program I attended, as well as being happily surprised by finding a fellow rabbi’s articulation of his Jewish identity.  It is […]

no gallery

No More Newsletters, Per Se: Concerning Communications

Since January 2010, I have been putting out newsletters for my job (with Southern California Jewish Student Services and also Southern California Jewish Young Adult Enrichment), however, I have recently realized that I should discontinue doing so.  While attending the 2013 Hillel Institute, I realized that not that many people spend the time to read […]

no gallery

Leading Discussions at Moishe House Thus Far in 2013

This year, I have led several discussions at the Moishe House of Orange County, which has been a great collaborative relationship.  One of the things that makes it great is that we each bring things to the table: they bring the young adults and put out topic-appropriate foods/drinks and I bring the Jewish content. The […]