A World of More Chevruta

by Rabbi Bronwen Mullin, SVARA Faculty I would have never made it through rabbinical school without my chevruta, Rabbi Emily Barton. Emily always knew how to call the rabbis out on their sh*t and how to make an obscure agricultural law seem incredibly interesting. She also made sure there were freshly-baked desserts to help us […]

Starting From the Same Beginner’s Mind

by Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, SVARA Fellow My journey to becoming part of the SVARA community began in the summer of 2015, at a program that would later evolve into Queer Talmud Camp. Walking into the SVARA bet midrash, feeling the electricity of the space, I was both incredibly excited and profoundly disconnected. I had just […]

The Power of Our Minhag

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva Last week, the Conservative movement’s halakhic decision-making team, the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards (CJLS), approved a teshuva, a written responsum, that codified one pathway in Jewish practice for Jews to be called to the Torah using a non-binary liturgical structure. A teshuva is, in essence, much like […]

Sacred Learning to Thaw the Freeze

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director So many things feel like they’re crumbling right now. As I try to make sense of how to respond to this moment, I’ve been sitting with the framework of fight, flight, and freeze. The framework offers us base choices for how we respond to perceived threats based on our animal […]

A Love Letter to Mishnah Collective

by Ren Finkel, Emergent Programs Coordinator This time next week, SVARA’s daily drop-in Mishnah Collective will be completing its exploration of Pirkei Avot. I began coordinating the Mishnah Collective in August 2020, and when I started I had no idea just how much this program would change me. It has been an ongoing space of […]

Rescued by a Daf

by Rabbi Mónica Gomery, SVARA Faculty A story is recounted in Yevamot 121a of Raban Gamliel on a boat. From a distance, Raban Gamliel sees another boat, shattered. A shipwreck. Knowing somehow that his colleague and friend Rabbi Akiva had been traveling on that boat, Raban Gamliel grieves for the wise and prolific Rabbi Akiva. […]

Going From Inside to Outside

by Elaina Marshalek, Director of Programs When I play piano, nothing feels more grounding than playing classical music. I imagine it has something to do with reading sheet music, where the notes and the instructions of how to play always stay the same. The notes on the page create a solid and stable container for […]

Torah on a Tightrope

by Maggid Jhos Singer, SVARA Fellow My colleague, mentor, teacher, and most of all my friend, Rachel Brodie, died suddenly and unexpectedly in April. Rachel profoundly impacted the people who knew her. I had the honor and responsibility of delivering the hesped (“eulogy”) at her funeral. While I sought to comfort the hundreds of folks […]

Go Out and See

by Rabbi Becky Silverstein, SVARA Faculty and Co-Director of the Trans Halakha Project The Torah serves as the backbone of Jewish life, laying out a communal origin story and providing the foundation of Jewish religious practice. Even if the Torah was only read on shabbatot and chagim (holidays) or studied as an abstract text, there […]

Finding My Possibility Model

by Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, SVARA Fellow It is hard, nay impossible, to adequately capture the feelings that came over me when I learned about the passing of a dear friend: the fierce and unapologetic activist for disability justice and lover of Torah, Sheryl Grossman. May her memory be a blessing. I dedicate my learning today […]