Teaching & Learning

אף אתה עשה אזניך כאפרכסת וקנה לך לב מבין לשמוע את דברי מטמאים ואת דברי מטהרים את דברי אוסרין ואת דברי מתירין את דברי פוסלין ואת דברי מכשירין.

Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya taught… make your ears like a funnel and acquire for yourself an understanding heart to hear both the statements of those who render objects ritually impure and the statements of those who render them pure; the statements of those who prohibit actions and the statements of those who permit them; the statements of those who deem items invalid and the statements of those who deem them valid.

Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 3b

Learning, teaching, and education are fundamental to how I view my role as a rabbi. I’m particularly curious about what our classical texts have to say about education and how we build community through learning. In the piece of Talmud above, you can see just how important a shared culture of learning is to our rabbis – we are meant to attune our ears and hearts to learn from all – even those who speak the exact opposite of one another.

My Rabbinic Thesis – “Exile Yourself to a Place of Torah:” Visions of Education and Identity in the Babylonian Talmud – researches the ideas of teaching, learning, and identity embedded within the Babylonian Talmud.

One of my favourite areas of focus is studying halakhic literature as applied to contemporary situations. In this area, I researched and wrote a well-received teshuvah with one of my rabbinic classmates – Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch: The Halakhot of Ethical Egg Eating.  We answered the question: Do Jewish law and ethics provide any guidance that should inform our consumption of eggs?

Here’s a sampling of recent teachings that I have facilitated, including study resources I created. Be sure to take a look at each introduction to get a sense of the audience and focus.

Below them, you can find a list of topics on which I am readily available to teach and lead study.

Anger

“Pour Our Your Wrath: Ideas of Jewish Anger”

The Tanakh and Talmud teach two fascinatingly different ideas when it comes to anger: on the one hand, anger is something to be strenuously avoided. One the other hand, there are instances when it is not only understood, but demanded!

This text study explores that tension and encourages learners to consider how our classical texts might inform an understanding of human emotion today.

This study is from a shiur (class) that I first delivered at the JCC of the East Bay‘s Shavuot Tikkun. It was designed for a large audience primarily of learners who may or may not have prior experience studying primary Hebrew/Aramaic texts, but is easily adapted for smaller groups and chevruta study. The accompanying discussion questions prompt comprehension, analysis, and personal reflection.

Refugees People With Luggage Walking In A Row

“Welcoming the Stranger: Jewish Values, Immigration, & Refugees

Jewish text often reminds us of our ancestors’ history as refugees and wandering immigrants, commanding us to love the stranger (36 times, to be exact). But what does welcoming the stranger actually mean in today’s complicated political climate? This shiur explores what Jewish values and traditions say about the nature of our responsibilities toward refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, and what actions they might impel us to take.

This multi-session class was for a group of young adult learners at Sixth & I, in tandem with National Refugee Shabbat.

In addition to the topical material, it is also designed to explore the often fraught question of how to apply Jewish texts to contemporary political policies in a way imbued with integrity and respect for diversity of opinion.

silver-iphone-6-987585

Can You Rate a Human Being?

With service-based apps like Uber and Instacart, the ratings customers give to workers can have a direct impact on worker’s livelihood and employment. Given questions of socio-economic status, quality customer service, and workers’ rights, this shiur examines sources that might inform a consumer’s ethical and/or halakhic responsibilities in a ratings-based gig economy, and grapples with the question of what it means to give a low rating to another person.

Originally delivered at the Hadar 2020 Shabbaton, this shiur emerged from a few particularly bad experiences I had with Lyft and Instacart’s food delivery. These experiences prompted me to dig deep into our textual tradition and see what wisdom it could offer on how to act in this new gig economy.

It was designed for a group of learners to engage in both chevruta study, as well as group discussion.


I am available to teach and lead study on the following topics as well as others with consultation, for groups of adult, elementary, high school, and university learners. If you’re interested in learning together, get in touch with me!

  • The Talmud & Education
  • Progressive approaches to Halakhah (Jewish Law)
  • Judaism & Mindfulness
  • Judaism & Human Emotions
  • Jewish Food Ethics / Vegetarianism
  • Speech Ethics
  • Human Relationships & Chesed / Kindness
  • Jewish History and Philosophy – Ancient, Medieval, Modern
  • European Jewish History and Culture
  • Israeli Politics, History, and Culture
  • Liberal Religious Zionism
  • Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah portion)
  • Rabbinic Thought (Talmud, Mishnah, Midrash, Halakhah)

I am also available to serve as a Tour Guide and Educator in Europe and Israel, with a particular focus on Jewish History in Poland, Lithuania, The Czech Republic, Germany, and France.

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