Art Videos?

Surprise
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.)

More
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?

Flying Solo in Chaplaincy

Having started a new job several weeks ago, I have had the fortunate situation of overlapping with my predecessor, who was able to share her knowledge of the position with me, which has been greatly helpful. However, her last day was on Friday, which means I’m it as the chaplain at the senior living facility where I work.

When I reach out to other chaplains for advice, whether Jew or Gentile, a common refrain I hear from them is, “Take CPE units.” CPE, which stands for Clinical Pastoral Education, has units of 400 hours apiece, involving clinical work, didactic, and more. While I am very glad to hear that they took CPE units and greatly benefited from that training, there are no opportunities at the moment due to safety concerns arising from Covid-19.

Fortunately, though, I’m not chaplaining blindly, as I received excellent pastoral counseling training while attending YCT, my rabbinical school. While the training there did not count for CPE units, I certainly learned a lot of useful skills there relevant for chaplaincy.

Beyond my education, I also received great experience while in California working college students and young adults. While a different demographic, the people skills and listening skills I honed during that time were invaluable and helped set me up for success in other arenas.

I look forward to continuing to develop my pastoral schools while chaplaining.

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!