Video Essays on the Third Chapter of Pirkei Avot

Having published video essays on each of the texts in the first chapter of Pirkei Avot and in the second 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 third chapter of Pirkei Avot.

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

Here is the entire series of video essays on the third chapter:
Avot 3:1

Avot 3:2

Avot 3:3

Avot 3:4

Avot 3:5

Avot 3:6

Avot 3:7

Avot 3:8

Avot 3:9

Avot 3:10

Avot 3:11

Avot 3:12

Avot 3:13

Avot 3:14

Avot 3:15

Avot 3:16

Avot 3:17

Avot 3:18

Passover Podcasts Published

Leading up to Passover this year, I wanted to publish four episodes of The Jewish Drinking Show, the leading podcast on drinking in Judaism, to cutely correspond to the four cups of wine at the Passover Seder. Adding to the two episodes I published last year (“Whiskey As The Catalyst For The Selling Of Chametz” and (“Demons And The Four Cups Of Wine At The Passover Seder”), I successfully published four episodes this year leading up to Passover:

There remains so much more to discuss regarding Passover and drinking, so I am looking forward to future year’s episodes!

Happy Passover 🙂

Positive COVID-19 results in the building sideline efforts at programming

After having shared that the assisted living dining room and programming had resumed for the first time in a half-year at the senior living facility where I work, the building also began outdoor visitations, which was really exciting to see happening once again. However, the other day, the building administrator published a letter to residents and their families, which opened with

I am so sorry that I have to write this update. We have two contracted employees that work full time at Cedar Village that have tested positive for COVID. Both have very limited exposure to residents. As a result of these positives, I unfortunately must suspend outdoor visitations, dining room service, and small group activities. Even though the vast majority of the residents have been vaccinated, the guidance has not changed from the Ohio Department of Health at this point. I hope and pray that this is a very short disruption in our plans for re-opening Cedar Village to all of you.

It is so frustrating to have such an occurrence happen, since 98-99% of the residents are vaccinated, yet the building still needs to adhere to these Ohio Department of Health rules.

While this suspension of activities is frustrating and deeply unfortunate for the residents, it is only for 14 days, barring, of course, any further staff turning up with positive COVID-19 results (although nearly 40% of the staff refused the vaccination against COVID-19), so at least there’s some hope that these activities can resume for the residents.

Pre-Pesach Teachings Along with Fellow Beth David Interns

Recently, the rabbi of a synagogue reached out to its former rabbinic interns for brief teachings around Passover/Pesach/פסח and some heeded the call. As a former rabbinic intern of this synagogue, Beth David Synagogue of West Hartford, CT, ​having served as the rabbinic intern in 2007-2008, I was happy to help, especially since I particularly appreciated my experience with the rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchok Adler.

Since my colleagues knew that I had some facility with video-editing, I acceded to their request to put this video together. So, after collecting the submissions from my colleagues Rabbi Yonah Berman, Rabbi Daniel Braune-Friedman, Rabbi Saul Strosberg, Rabba Claudia Marbach, and Rabbi Stephen Belsky, I packaged it together today and am happy to share this presentation of our teachings:

Encouraging Developments Due to Lack of COVID-19 in Building [Chaplaincy Chronicles]

With most of the staff at the senior living facility where I work getting vaccinated against COVID-19, we have seen a significant improvement in our building dealing with COVID-19. So much so that our building administrator published a letter the other day in which he writes, “I am happy to report that Cedar Village has gone 20 days with no resident or staff COVID positive results. This is important because we are now considered out of outbreak status!”

That, in and of itself, is great news! And, due to that great news, he continues, “We will not have to test health care residents on a weekly basis. Also, this allows us in Health Care to re-open the dining rooms so the residents can eat outside of their rooms. We are planning on doing this next week. We will have each resident eat at their own table socially distanced from each other.”

Wonderful news for the health care residents and their staff!

He also wrote that “We are also starting to have small group activities in Health Care restart. In addition, we are also working with P.S. Salon to re-open the campus beauty salons. Finally, with the weather breaking, we are working resuming outdoor family visitations as soon as possible.” I can tell you that these things are all really great and, just as we had seen in August for the few weeks these were open, I expect morale and energy to pick up swiftly!

I can tell you that it is wonderful to see the residents’ spirits picking up due to these activities, in addition to the assisted living dining room having opened up last week.

Unfortunately, since nearly 40% of the staff refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, if even one staff member turns up positive with the virus, then these activities have to go away again (in accordance with Ohio Department of Health regulations). So, I’m hoping that our staff stay safe from the virus.

Art Videos?

If you had asked me before I started my current job as a chaplain at a senior living facility about making art videos, I would have found that to be strange. Yet, here I am, making art videos.

First Video
Of course, it started amidst the pandemic, as no programming could take place, due to the virus. I approached the building’s art specialist and she agreed to do a video with me on the artwork series in the administrative wing, about which I had been quite curious. So we made that video. Yes, we used my cell phone for the video and the lighting was atrocious, and the sound was not so great either.

Sukkah Art Video
The local JCC then had, as they have in years past, albeit smaller due to the pandemic, an art exhibit in their sukkah; however, since our seniors were unable to leave the building, our art specialist and I made a trip out there to bring the exhibit to them, as it were, resulting in this video. And, yet again, with no special lighting, no microphones, and just my phone camera, it turned out decently, yet it could be better.

Grant for Camera Equipment Boosts Production Quality
I then applied for a grant from a local committee to fund camera equipment, which yielded a mirrorless digital camera, microphones, a light, and a tripod. This provided a significant increase in production quality for our subsequent art videos.

Two Videos in the Building
We then shot two videos in the facility, one on a series of art on Jewish holidays, and one on our buildings contribution to the JCC’s artwork exhibits over the years. Both of these featured notably improved production quality due to the fulfilled grant. (If you do plan on watching the videos, I highly recommend watching them in 1080p60 quality.)

Two Videos out of the Building
We then made two further videos outside of the building, the first of which was of an art exhibit that was about to leave the Skirball Museum and the residents would have otherwise been entirely unable to catch any of it, so, just like the limited time engagement of the JCC sukkah art exhibit, we were granted exclusive access to the museum (since it was otherwise closed to the public due to the pandemic), resulting in this video. The other of which was of a series of murals that are part of the Holocaust & Humanity Center’s Cincy Upstander Project, which is available here. (Just as with the previous two videos, if you plan on watching them, I recommend watching them in 1080p60 quality.)

While we have some more lined-up that we plan to create, as we begin to open up, perhaps the need for such videos will decrease. Who knows?

Welcoming My New Boss

In my current position as a chaplain at a senior living facility, I have had the interesting situation of answering, as it were, to two separate bosses: one internal to the facility and one external to the facility. Internal to the facility, I am answerable to the building administrator. External to the facility, I was answerable for the first 4-5 months to the executive director of the Jewish Home of Cincinnati, until he took ill and was out of the picture (he sadly ended up passing away over a month ago), at which point, I began reporting directly to the lay leaders on the board of directors.

However, I was delighted to hear Monday evening that his successor had already begun her first day on the job. And just yesterday, according to a press release, “Jewish Home of Cincinnati, Inc. (JHC) has selected Nina Perlove to serve as its first executive director in their newly-transformed organization as a grant-funder.” Further according to the press release, “Perlove will lead the foundation and her number one priority is to ensure that the foundation’s mission – support greater Cincinnati Jewish seniors by investing in innovative services and programs – is fulfilled through robust and aligned partnerships with greater Cincinnati nonprofits who serve older Jewish adults.”

I am very much looking forward to meeting (whether in real-life or even via Zoom) my new boss, as I am excited to have this fresh surge of energy in our efforts.

The press release quotes her as articulating that she is “looking forward to partnering with many senior service providers to identify and invest in innovative programs that will allow Jewish seniors in our region to live connected, fulfilling lives with dignity, and to enrich the well-being of the elderly through this important mitzvah.”
Of additional interest included within the boiler plate area of the press release is a snippet regarding the “newly-transformed organization as a grant-funder”:

Innovative services, programs, and projects for Jewish seniors in the Cincinnati region will be considered for funding. Specifically, JHC will invest in COVID-19 relief, partnerships/collaborations, innovative start-ups, basic human and mental health needs, and safe delivery of services. Letters of inquiry and grant applications will be accepted twice a year and there will be a 12-month period between awards.

This should be an interesting and exciting new development in my work serving in my current capacity.