Turn In It

by Maggid Jhos Singer, SVARA Fellow בֶּן בַּג בַּג אוֹמֵר, הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ. וּבָהּ תֶּחֱזֵי, וְסִיב וּבְלֵה בָהּ, וּמִנַּהּ לֹא תָזוּעַ, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ מִדָּה טוֹבָה הֵימֶנָּה  בֶּן הֵא הֵא אוֹמֵר, לְפוּם צַעֲרָא אַגְרָא This is one of my favorite Mishnaic sound bites. Ben Bag Bag, a slightly mysterious Talmudic character, says regarding […]

The Talmudic Craft of Shaping Ourselves

by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva & Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva Chanukah is one of our faves here at SVARA. And that’s, at least in part, because of the way the Rabbis so explicitly show us their work as they’re creating this newfangled holiday. They make sure we see, at every step, how they […]

Hadran Alakh, Indeed!

by Ren Finkel, Mishnah Collective & Emergent Programs Coordinator Mishnah Collective will be making a triumphant return to Mishnah Avot Chapter 6 in just a couple of weeks. This magical chapter of ancient wisdom is where the Mishnah Collective first began, an experiment hoping to bring a little light during the darkness of the first […]

The Secrets of Friendship and Torah

by R’ Mónica Gomery, SVARA Faculty I sat down to learn in chevruta last week, on a day when everything was irking me. I was in a terrible, salty, grumbling mood. My chevruta and I opened with our usual check-in, during which I complained about anything I could think of. I was a fountain of […]

Hardcore, Queer, & Radically Inclusive

by Maggid Jhos Singer, SVARA Fellow (I’m dedicating my HOTS teaching to my beloved Julie Batz, on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of our kiddushin, and to our mesader kiddushin, R. Margaret Holub for being such an incredible teacher, guide, and friend.) Deep in the folds of the SVARA website, tucked away (under a […]

A Sampler of Samplers, Part 1

by R’ Benay Lappe, Rosh Yeshiva As I was preparing to start rabbinical school, my mother took me to our local Jewish bookstore and bought me my first tallis. She then sewed me a beautiful bag to carry it in. She constructed it of a luxurious powder blue velvet, lined it in silk, and on […]

Crash-Cycling from Simchat Torah into 5782

by R’ Bronwen Mullin, SVARA faculty In song and dance we round up the High Holy Days with Simchat Torah, the day in which we honor the completion of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, that is) in our communities, and then we start it all over again from […]

Learning K’Neged Kulam

by Laynie Soloman, Associate Rosh Yeshiva Earlier this week, we siyum-ed, celebrating the 150 SVARA-niks who dug in deep this Elul as we moved into this season of repair, restoration, and renewal. A siyum is a celebration that marks the completion—for now!—of learning a set of Jewish… something, usually a text. In our case, maybe […]

The Resilience of Crying Out

by R’ Hayley Goldstein, SVARA Fellow I don’t have a single relationship that wasn’t changed, or at least challenged, by the pandemic. Discussions around podding, practices, and mask materials almost always devolved into bitterness and resentment for all parties. Don’t you trust me? We all asked. What, do you think I’m an idiot? You think […]

The Heart Knows the Bitterness of Its Soul

by R’ Lauren Tuchman, SVARA Fellow With the marking of Rosh Chodesh Elul this week, the Jewish tradition invites us into the holiest months of the year. It’s a time for personal introspection and stock-taking, a time to ask ourselves about the people we want to be in the new year. This Elul is particularly […]