Hot Off the Shtender: Resetting the Ritual Clock

by R’ Becky Silverstein, SVARA Fellow and Board Chair This week, I’ve heard the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris described in several ways: as a new page for our country, a win for activists, a peaceful transfer of power, a repudiation of the white nationalism and white supremacy, a win for democracy, […]


by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva   I remember what it was like to be on the road, and get lost, before I had a GPS. I’d pull over, rummage through the glove compartment to find the right map, unfurl it across the entire front seat (because it was the size of a bedsheet), and […]

Hot Off the Shtender: The Talmud’s Queerspawn: Going Inside-Outside on the Siddur

by R’ Mónica Gomery and R’ Ari Lev Fornari, SVARA Faculty Members This week, in the wake of a white supremacist insurrection, incited from the highest powers of government and abetted by all levels of law enforcement, we have found ourselves returning over and over again to Jewish prayer.  One of the iterative messages that […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Delighting in Our Learning

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva As we wrapped up our semester of weekly learning for the Teaching Kollel, I declared (as I often do!), that the text we had learned is my favorite sugya. One Fellow noted, “Laynie, I’d love to find some time to hear more about what you love about this sugya.” […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Saving Our Lives: The Rest of the Story

Saving Our Lives: The Rest of the Story by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva   My father loved radio. As a child, we had radios in every room of our house. There was the little black AM-FM transistor radio that sat on a shelf in the bathroom medicine cabinet, the big old-fashioned-looking vintage replica that […]

Hot Off The Shtender: Take Off Your Shoes

by R’ Dev Noily, SVARA Fellow Take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. –Ex. 3:5 These are the first words YHVH says to Moses after calling to him from the burning bush. Moses is a wanderer then, a refugee. He doesn’t live in the homeland […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Towards Halakhic Euphoria

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva When I started planning to have top surgery, I never wondered whether I could get top surgery according to halakha. While my life is guided by the yes’s and no’s of halakha in other realms, the question of permission in this case never crossed my mind. Instead, I wondered, […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Knowing That We Are Loved

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director   About a year and a half ago, I was lucky enough to be at the graduation for our first cohort of Fellows in the Teaching Kollel. I had captured glimmers of how SVARA’s learning community touched people before that, but I was caught unawares by the sheer power of […]

The Radical Act of Becoming a Talmud Person

by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva   I want to tell you why I’m in the Talmud business.  And I want to tell you today because, perhaps like some of you, and in spite of the likely outcome of the election, I’m still feeling decidedly less joyful than I had hoped to feel.  Even though […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Don’t Worry, (or Go Ahead and Worry but Still) Be Happy—a Talmudic prescription for turbulent times

by Maggid Jhos Singer, SVARA Fellow Rebbe Nachman of Breslov used to say, “Friends do not despair, for a difficult time has come upon us joy must fill the air. We must not lose our faith in living; we must not despair. Though a difficult time has come upon us, joy must fill the air.” […]