03 March 2006

Monday at the Spitzer Forum

After waking up on Monday morning, I quickly ironed my shirt and khakis, which were a little wrinkled - it was the first time I had ironed in almost a year(!). I got dressed and then went with Yonah Berman, who had arrived while I was asleep, to the Orthodox שחרית (morning prayer) (and I did הגבה). Following that, I then went to breakfast, and then back to my hotel room for a [very needed] two-hour nap.
Upon rising from my morning nap, I went with Yonah to set up our booth and then we got lunch with the other presentors, which was rather tasty. Following lunch, we manned our booth for over two hours, while college students went around. As there weren't so many Orthodox students to begin with, let alone guys, and of them, those that were interested in rabbinical school, we didn't recruit many students, but hopefully, we represented the school well.
The highlight of the Student Opportunities Fair was that I got to see people I knew from before: there were some I had known from IU (i.e., Jen Gubitz, Jen Krause, Erielle Reshef), from BBYO (i.e. Jen Krause, Jason Benkendorf), some college students who had been at BBYO summer programs when I staffed it, even someone who had staffed my first summer program (ILTC 1998), and an ex-gf of a roommate from when I was in Israel during college who is now married.
After we took down our booth, we went to the session entitled "The 11th Commandment Your Rabbi Never Taught You: Thou Shall Teach Sex Ed," which featured three women. The first, Jennifer Heitel Yakush, of SIECUS, who was pretty decent and spoke pretty much against abstinence-only sex-ed programs in favor of comprehensive sexuality programs, and mainly spoke out this topic in the context of federal funding. Then came Rabbi Alana Suskin (and, yes, she is a blogger), who presented three Talmudical texts (Hagigah 5b, Berakhot 62a, and Kiddushin 29a & 30b) to try to get into some sort of understanding about what the rabbis had to say about the issue. I was pretty disappointed with her presentation of the texts. My first criticism is that she didn't break up the various layers of the texts - now, before you say that maybe she doesn't utilize the layering method towards Talmud study, she was, nevertheless, rather uncritical in breaking up the texts. My second criticism was that the third text wasn't that relevant (and if it was, maybe she could have tried to tie it in). My third criticism was that she didn't explain much from the texts - to me, as a rabbinical student, I can get a significant amount from them, but to the students that were present, I doubt they got hardly anything from it. Granted, it's possible that she was short on time and couldn't have done much more, but she didn't speak much on the texts.
Lastly, was Samantha Pohl, who might have had something to say, but she seemed to have only promoted the RAC. For the Q&A, the highlight was Yakush answering questions.
Following that session, I went to leave the hotel. On my way out, a YU guy, Aaron Steinberg, was also leaving - by car. He graciously offered me a ride to the Heights, and that was the end of the conference for me (yes, I returned safely).
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Anonymous said...

Yeah - unfortunately, we didn't have much inthe way of time, and for some reason, we actually had less than planed. I was planning to speak another 15 minutes originally... Mah Laasot?

Drew_Kaplan said...

Sorry about that - I had noticed that there did seem to be a bit of a time crunch going on.