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 […]

Say Little. Do Much.

by Rabbi Benay Lappe, Ayana Morse, Rabbi Becky Silverstein, and Laynie Soloman …שַׁמַּאי אוֹמֵר עֲשֵׂה תוֹרָתְךָ קֶבַע אֱמֹר מְעַט וַעֲשֵׂה הַרְבֵּה Shammai used to say: Make your learning fixed. Speak little, do much… (Masechet Avot 1:15) Last Friday, SVARA’s Daily Mishnah Collective celebrated the completion (for now!) of our learning of Chapter 1 of Masechet […]

Hot Off the Shtender: OK, We Left Egypt. Now What?

by Rabbi Benay Lappe & Laynie Soloman Passover’s over. Egypt is behind us. That first glimpse of liberation is exhilarating. You’re free! At least that’s the story we’re taught. But the journey to liberation can also be scary. Really scary. As every one of us knows, getting free isn’t a one-and-done. It never happens all […]

Community Building

SVARA is devoted to building relationships among students and with other “Option 3” organizations. There are regular learning and social small groups to get to know each other and the Rabbi better. SVARA also partners with other organizations like Mishkan Chicago for the S&M Bet Midrash to foster growth for us all. To find out more […]