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 […]

How We Question

by Rabbi Bronwen Mullin, SVARA Faculty I like to think that our fairy-Rabbi-ancestors would have been proud to watch their descendants witness the nomination of the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. Much of the coverage of this moment has focused on Judge Jackson herself: her identity as a Black woman, […]

Culture, Care, and Our Shared Definitions of SVARA

by Ayana Morse, Executive Director Back in the fall, I found myself on the sidelines of baseball training for my oldest kiddo. The head coach in the league was attempting to corral a group of energetic 9-11-year-olds into a circle. He was yelling at them to come together, to listen to each other, and work […]

Sacred Time Travel: Crip Time, Queer Time, and Torah Time

by R’ Elliot Kukla, SVAVA Faculty When my grandma Lily was dying, she traveled through time back to her childhood. Lily survived the Holocaust, as well as years of hiding, fleeing, loss, illness, pain, and relocation in mid-life. The grandmother I knew in old age was stiffened by scar tissue. She struggled with my trans […]