Hot Off The Shtender: Our Learning Lives Inside Us

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director A few months ago, I woke myself up from a nap sobbing. I don’t recall whether I was dreaming, or what exactly was going on around me at the time, but the feelings of deep exhaustion and overwhelm had clearly rooted in deep and needed an outlet that I hadn’t […]

Hot Off the Shtender: The Trans Halakha Project: Moving Us Toward the Next Unrecognizable Future

by R’ Becky Silverstein, SVARA Fellow & Board Chair In 2014, a few weeks before I was ordained a rabbi, SVARA’s President & Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Benay Lappe, gave an Eli Talk called “An Unrecognizable Jewish Future: A Queer Talmudic Take.” Much of this talk is what SVARAniks and countless Jews around the world know […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Finding Comfort in the Curmudgeonly

by Ren Finkel, Mishnah Collective Coordinator Between our one-year anniversary and our Masechet Avot Chapter 4 siyyum, it has been a really big couple of weeks for the Mishnah Collective. As is so common during the pandemic, going through this last chapter felt like it took both a second and a year. This last mishnah, […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Becoming Forever Upside-Down

by R’ Hayley Goldstein, SVARA Fellow I never thought I’d spend Purim day on the phone with Wildlife Rescue trying to save a small, injured bird. On a walk with a friend to a nearby gorge where I live in Ithaca, NY, we silently admired the trees, with their roots somehow afloat, twisted and elegant […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Knowing and Not Knowing: Celebrating the Expansiveness of Torah

by R’ Lauren Tuchman, SVARA Fellow Today, I remember. I remember vividly the all-consuming sadness I felt last Purim, as the sun was setting and my celebratory seudah was ending, the last event I attended with a large Jewish community. I remember feeling overcome with the intuitive sense that it would be a long, long […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Is the Talmud Really What We Say It Is?

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva Over this year, as we’ve moved through continued isolation and exile amidst a global pandemic, I have found the bet midrash to be one of the only places that I’ve been able to be fully present, immersed, and in a joyful state of flow. Sometimes I feel this flow […]

Hot Off the Shtender: The Word That Changed The World

by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva Until I came out and went Option 2 on nearly everything in my life, I had wanted to be a doctor since I was a small child. I was pre-med in college and, in my sophomore year, took that first biology course that all pre-meds take, the feared Bio […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Elevating Wise People Elevates Wisdom

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director Many moons ago, I was part of a political theatre collective in Boston. We were a small group, performing original work and reimagining plays that touched on themes of oppression, community, and humanity. Our work was set against the backdrop of the War in Iraq, not long after 9/11, in […]

Hot Off the Shtender: It’s Not What You Know, It’s How You Know It

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva Teachers have always set me on edge. In third grade I was labeled a “gifted underachiever.” I’m not quite sure precisely what I did to warrant that designation as an eight year-old (though I will easily admit my contrarian ways!), but it followed me through high school as I […]

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, […]