Hot Off the Shtender: Reclaiming Pleasure for Ourselves and the Divine

by Laynie Soloman, SVARA faculty I am re-learning how to feel good.  As joy and pain move through my life without ceremony, I—along with so many of y’all—am a scientist of my own experience, constantly learning what it takes to feel good. This week in our Daily Drop-in Mishnah Collective I was electrified by a […]

HOT OFF THE SHTENDER: WE’RE ALL OK

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director I have, over the past weeks and months, made an increasing number of minor mistakes, and contributed rambling, nonsensical ideas to any number of projects. One of the more recent examples of this was that I misspelled the subject line of a big marketing email. After sending out a correction, […]

Hot Off The Shtender: Investing in Queer & Trans Torah

by Laynie Soloman, SVARA Faculty & R’ Becky Silverstein, SVARA Fellow, and Board Chair We have heard from y’all time and time again that the most powerful, connected moments of learning happen when we are able to show up with our whole selves, and when we can see ourselves reflected in our teachers and comrades. […]

HOT OFF THE SHTENDER: OLAM HADASH: TOWARDS A JEWISH THEOLOGY OF ABOLITION

by Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari, Talmud Faculty This piece is an excerpt from R’ Ari Lev’s Yom Kippur sermon at Kol Tzedek Last week a grand jury in Louiseville, KY exonerated all three officers in the case of the murder of Breonna Tayler, and merely indicted Detective Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment, for the shots […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Open Our Hearts Through Torah

by Laynie Soloman, SVARA Faculty In the bet midrash, in meetings, and in conversations with SVARA-niks and community members week after week, I hear a refrain: We are holding so much grief. But it is a stagnant and stuck grief. It is heavy in our bodies, lodged in our bones, and in our hearts. We […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Steeping the Divine Into the Space Between Comrades

by Noah Westreich, SVARA Fellow I can conjure up many different memories that have to do with the High Holidays. I remember being a kid and choosing the overflow room to sit with my friends and pass the time during services, the grainy video playing on the rollaway television stand. I remember the 110-degree heat […]

Hot Off the Shtender: Practicing Freedom in the Bet Midrash

by Laynie Soloman, SVARA Faculty Throughout this pandemic, in my learning, in my teaching, and beyond, I keep returning over and over to the same anchoring questions: What does it mean to be a yeshiva during a pandemic? How do we understand our work during a time of upheaval? What is the role of a […]

Hot Off the Shtender: I Saw Him and I Stood on His Grave: Expanding Our Tradition’s Justice Map

by Rabbi Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva The Talmud’s goal is to teach us how to tell more liberatory stories, and to help us become the people that we need to become to then live those stories out.  And it does this by creating in the learner an experience of ever-shifting perspective, purposely destabilizing us, training […]

DID YOU SEE MY ALPS? AND OTHER QUESTIONS WE’RE ASKED IN HEAVEN

by Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Benay Lappe, in chevruta with R’ Mónica Gomery Every year around this time, as Elul approaches, I begin to think about the weeks and months ahead, and how I’ll make use of this year’s High Holidays to do my teshuva work. While I try to do teshuva on a daily or […]

HOT OFF THE SHTENDER: THE BOOK OF YOU & THE BOOK OF THE WORLD

by R’ Becky Silverstein and Julie Batz, SVARA Fellows & QTC Head Fairies At Queer Talmud Camp this year, campers had access to a virtual portal which included all the information they’d need for camp. In it, one could read these words, under Expectations for Being Together: “SVARA is a home for queer and radical […]