11 August 2011

Some Reflections on the Second Annual Hillel Institute

snippet of Tweeting about the conferenceA week ago, I left and returned from attending the second annual Hillel Institute. In the spirit of some of my recent posts (including my conference anticipations), I'm going with ten reflections on the conference:
1) I was happy to see more tweeting (cf. picture to the right) taking place at this year's conference than at last year's conference. It seemed that not only that there were about twice as many people tweeting about the conference, b
ut the plenary address by Wayne Firestone had some active tweeting, which was excellent, allowing even people not there to follow along with his address. I am hoping that next year's address will have an even more robust parallel conversation taking place!
2) The highlight for me was the rabbi
s sessions. It wasn't just hanging out with the other YCT graduates (which was great(!)), but engaging in discourse about delivering Jewish content to the students, which is a core element of rabbis in discussion at Hillel InstituteHillel. Moreover, one of the fascinating aspects of the rabbis' discussions was that we bring much different view of Hillel and the Jewish world than do engagement or programming associates, for instance. We are critical of Hillel because we want to see good Jewish identity growing - it's fascinating stuff :)
3) Once again, we visited the very tripp
y City Museum, which seems to get stranger and more random every step one takes in a mind-blowing way....
4) Wayne Firestone turned in another Steve Jobs-like performance.
5) The Richard M. Joel Exemplar of E
xcellence Awards and Milestones once again went smoothly, quickly, and excellently! (Pictured to the lWayne Firestone handing out awardseft: Wayne Firestone speaking at the awards ceremony)
6) When I read the paper that was sent out to conference attendees, I was enthralled and impressed by the author's understanding
of leadership and how to employ that through the vehicle of narrative. Granted, my skills as a raconteur are lacking, but it's a tool I need to develop....
7) The bulk of our sessions were "Track sessions" which were based around the aforementioned paper. I think they weren't that great
: they were based off of a good idea, but we didn't need that much time to deal with it (and it was a fair degree of writing). (For a more positive assessment of these, see this post.) Interestingly, over the weekend, I then realized it actually was more helpful than when I was in the moment (nevertheless, it was too much time...). Personally, it would have been nice to have a couple of sessions of didactic information (e.g. How-Tos)....
8) Now that I've sort of beaten up on the aforementioned sessions, we did develop a better sense of where we wanted to take Beach Hillel this coming year, which would not have occurred were it not for the conference.
9) There was some great networking there - whether it was with other Hillel professionals there or representative of organizations at the organizational fair. For some organizations and
Southern Californian Hillels, it was how could we work together, which is eminently helpful. For some people, it was nice to meet such interesting and good people. For others, it was who I might want to work with me in the future.
10) I got to hear a tremendously simple, yet helpful guiding question of What are we trying t
o accomplish in any given activity, whether it is a shabbat dinner, class, or Rabbi's Hours? For me, sometimes the answers are so obvious I don't even think about it/them. However, re-investigating the questions and then articulating the answers can better serve me in being effectual.

Overall, the conference was good, once again, and I look forward to attending next year (if possible).

10 August 2011

Once Again, Some Great YCT Representation at Hillel Institute

Most of the YCT rabbis at the second annual Hillel InstituteLast week, during our last night at the second annual Hillel Institute of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, someone asked me about the seemingly numerousness of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) graduates in Hillel. In truth, in no way were YCT graduates the majority of rabbis there, but it was noticeable. For one thing, when we began the Beit midrash session on Wednesday morning, Rabbi Andy Kastner opened it up while Rabbi Ben Berger framed it for everybody. There were lots of options of Rabbi David Kasher teaching at the second annual Hillel Institute while Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz looks on pensivelysessions, although I chose to go to the one led by another two graduates, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz and Rabbi David Kasher.
I've already listed most of the YCT graduates at the conference, with the other three being Rabbi Seth Winberg, Rabbi Josh Feigelson, and myself. And while we have different positions,* we all are involved in our respective Hillels.
Having enjoyed not only the presence of YCT graduates last year, but also the responses regarding them, I was tremendously looking forward to seeing my fellow YCTers at the conference. I wasn't disappointed. Although the foremost reason for being excited to see them was having been trained in the same, special environment of YCT where there was not only a concerned discourse of general matters, but certainly when it came to Judaism (especially in (North) America), an intensive involvement with texts, and over
Rabbi Andy Kastner leading the introduction to the beit midrash session at the second annual Hillel Instituteall awesomeness. However, what may have contributed not only to seeing each other being special and catching up with each other, but also another matter: while at YCT, there is a feeling (largely unarticulated, but something that I felt nearly every day there) that we had a lot of potential in revitalizing the (North) American Jewish community; at the Hillel Institute, we got to hear and see some of the amazing energy being actualized by our fellow graduates. Not only that, but we got to hear further ideas and be inspired by each other.
By far, my favorite aspect of the conference was the sessions where all of the rabbis got together (which is another discussion altogether); however, again, the YCT graduates stood out, especially since three of them were Senior Jewish Educators at their Hillels. I could see how the person who mentioned to me that YCT guys were all over could get that impression....
*Aside from me, there was Rabbi Ben Berger ('09), senior Jewish educator (SJE) at the Hillel at The Ohio State University, Rabbi Josh Feigelson ('05), previously campus rabbi at Northwestern Hillel; Rabbi David Kasher ('07), SJE at Berkeley Hillel; Rabbi Andy Kastner ('10), campus rabbi for Washington University; Rabbi Seth Winberg ('11), associate director at U. of Michigan Hillel; Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz ('10), SJE at the Hillel at UCLA.

08 August 2011

Rabbinic Popularity in the Tosefta II: סדר מועד

I have now finished going through and counting up the most frequently mentioned sages in סדר מועד of the Tosefta (see here for סדר זרעים). Once again, Rabbi Yehudah is the most frequently mentioned sage (if it were otherwise, it would be a surprise), although some rabbis who appear more frequently in the Tosefta than in the Mishnah are, just like with סדר זרעים, are Rabban Shimon, son of Gamliel, and Rabbi Shimon, son of Eleazar. Also, Rabbi Eleazar, son of Rabbi Zadok, appears with a surprising regularity. Also noteworthy is that Rabbi Eliezer appears much less frequently in the Tosefta than he did in the Mishnah.
Instead of the typical top ten, I figured it would be more interesting to see the top fifteen this time (see here for the Mishnah's top ten of סדר מועד):
1 - רבי יהודה
2 - רבי יוסי
3 - רבי מאיר
4 - חכמים
5 - רבי שמעון
5 - רבי שמעון בן אלעזר

7 - רבי אליעזר
7 - רבן שמעון בן גמליאל

9 - בית שמאי
10 - בית הלל
11 - רבי
12 - רבי עקיבא
13 - רבי יהושע
14 - רבי אלעזר
14 - רבי אלעזר ברבי צדוק

And now for the most frequently mentioned sage(s) in each tractate:
שבת - רבי יהודה
ערובין - רבי יהודה
פסחא - רבי יהודה
שקלים - רבי מאיר
כפורים - רבי יהודה
יום טוב - בית שמאי
סוכה - רבי יהודה
ראש השנה - רבי יהודה
תעניות - רבי יהודה
מגלה - רבי ינודה
מועד - רבי יהודה
חגיגה - בית הלל ובית שמאי ורבן יוחנן בן זכאי

07 August 2011

Five Quick Thoughts on the OC Fair

Hall of VendorsHaving gone today to the Orange County Fair for the first time, I had some thoughts:
1) It was great that we were able to get in for only $2 instead of the regular price of $11. This rate is only good between 10-11am on Saturdays and Sundays, which is awesome and we did it, although I was surprised on our way out that the lines for getting tickets were long!
2) Not enough tables outside: whenever looking for a table at which to
sit, they were typically full. Next year, they ought to put out more of them.
3) It's unfortunate that most of the really yummy food is not kosher, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - I don't need fried frog legs, pepperoni pizza rolls, or pork butts, amongst other items....
4) Although the tag line is "Let's Eat", my favorite part was the halls of vendors selling products (pictured above). Granted, this probably was on account of my not being able to eat most of the food there. OTOH, they did have the largest Dippin' Dots stand I'd ever seen (with different options).
5) People walk so slowly. This was crazy how slowly people were walking - I know people are taking their time and enjoying their surroundings, but when you are in a hurry to get to the restroom or meeting up with other people, it gets annoying how slowly people walk there.
I think I would go back (probably only with the $2 admission fee (I don't think I'd spend $11 to get in)), although in no way does it compare with the Ohio State Fair, which is what I grew up with....

03 August 2011

Meeting Some of the Best & Brightest: Picking a Professional Dream team

While staffing BBYO's ILTC last month, I met some staff members who impressed me in certain ways and I thought "If only I had the opportunity to start some sort of organization (or head up something), I know who I would choose to work with me and get things done." What struck me was that I had never had such a thought cross my mind of picking people to work together in an organization with me.
For the past few days, I have been at the second annual Hillel Institute (essentially a Hillel professionals' staff conference) and have met several people that, given the opportunity, I would love to hire certain people and create a team. Granted, I know neither the organization nor when nor how any of it would take place. Then, again, that's why it's a dream team - it's not in actuality....

I guess I haven't been used to being in such positions (although having put together some events this past year (most recently the Tikkun Olam Institute) might have influenced my thinking about finding people to be involved in running certain elements of programs and, more broadly, organizations), which makes it somewhat of a new ability to consider.