Join Mishnah Collective as we make our way through Masekhet Avot! Each session we work our way through a portion of a mishnah, piece by piece, in the SVARA method. No prior Hebrew experience or learning necessary to participate!
Access note: SVARA’s Daily Drop-in Mishnah Collective is live-captioned. Please note that all SVARA programming, including Mishnah Collective, is for folks 18 and up.
Whether you can join every day, once a week—we can’t wait to learn with you!
Have any questions, concerns, comments, or concerns about Mishnah Collective? Contact Ren, the Mishnah Collective Coordinator, at [email protected]
SVARA’s daily drop-in Mishnah Collective has been learning Masechet Avot for a half hour daily since the wake of the pandemic in March 2020, and after breaking down and putting together each and every word, has completed the entire book. We (and the Talmud) will never be the same. Whether you’ve been with us each day, have never learned with us before, or anything in between, join us on on Thursday, June 2nd at 8pm ET | 7pm CT | 5pm PT to celebrate this epic work of our community and witness the big reveal of what’s next. ✨Learn more and register here!✨
We’re putting together a video to capture all of the incredible wisdom of Mishnah Collective participants and teachers! Whether you’ve attended once, read the emails, or have come every day since March 2020, we’d be so grateful to share your glittering brilliance!
✨ Learn more about the video and how to submit here. ✨
Get to know the teachers & staff who are helping to nurture and hold this daily practice space! Want to meet with someone from our team to explore the mishnah, to get some learning support, or to connect one-on-one? Write to [email protected], or sign up for Fairy Hours at this link!
Noah Westreich (he/him) | SVARA Fellow. Noah is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to studying for the rabbinate, he worked and lived in Washington, DC and Jackson, MS, where he served the Jewish communities of those regions. In DC, he also served specialty coffee and developed a yoga practice. Originally from Montclair, NJ, Noah has always had a thirst for world languages and as such has become a competent speaker of Spanish, German, and Hebrew. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Sociology; his senior thesis explored the sociolinguistic theory of Hebrew education in American Jewry.
Rabbi Mónica Gomery (she/her) | SVARA Faculty. Mónica grew up in a Venezuelan Ashkenazi household both in Boston and Caracas, and now lives on Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. She received ordination from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2017. Mónica is passionate about supporting people who have been denied access to ancient and ancestral spiritual traditions to claim these traditions as a resource for empowerment and transformation in their lives and in the world. She is honored and grateful to get to do this work at the first-ever queer yeshiva in history! Mónica has served as a prison chaplain, a geriatric chaplain, and an educator and prayer leader at numerous Jewish institutions and organizations, including at Kol Tzedek Synagogue in Philly where she serves as Rabbi and Music Director. She is the author of two books of poetry, and a co-founder of Let My People Sing!
Ren Finkel (they/them) is a multimedia artist, community organizer, and student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. They’re a part of the Pittsburgh diaspora, where they majored in Photojournalism, first learned about anti-capitalism, and were brought back to Jewish practice. They are deeply committed to healing work and restorative justice. After a summer at Queer Talmud Camp, studying ancestral Jewish text has become the heart of their spiritual practice. They tend to study Talmud with a 2:1 ratio of respect to irreverence. In their spare time, they like to make Sefaria source sheets, specifically about how gay certain Talmudic Rabbis are, specifically Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish—and all they need is one line of Berakhot to prove that Rabbi Gamliel was a twink who believed in disability justice. They are incredibly excited to be working on the Mishnah Collective and hope that the text may provide us with a semblance of sense and solace in such uncertain times.
Rabbi Becky Silverstein (he/him) | SVARA Fellow. Becky believes in the power of community, Torah, and silliness in transforming the world. He is passionate about creating and participating in spaces that celebrate queer lives and are explicitly anti-racist. Becky is the founder and rabbi of Beyn Kodesh l’Chol, an emergent Jewish project in Jamaica Plain, MA. Becky loves most things SVARA learning, is a SVARA Fellow, and is chair of SVARA’s Board of Directors. He also chairs the board The Jewish Studio Project, and sits on Keshet’s board, where he is the chair of the Racial Justice Team. Becky finds joy in being a dad, working out, and connecting with loved ones. He grew up in Great Neck, New York, holds a B.S. in Engineering from Smith College and Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. Becky lives in Jamaica Plain, MA with his spouse, Naomi, and their kiddo, Edie Gefen. (SVARA Fellow, Cohort 1)
Rabbi Benay Lappe (she/her) | SVARA Faculty, Rosh Yeshiva. Benay is the Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1997, Benay is an award-winning educator specializing in the application of queer theory to Talmud study. Benay was named to Jewrotica’s Sexiest Rabbis List of 2013 (and is a little embarrassed about that but also a little tickled), The Forward’s 2014 List of Most Inspiring Rabbis, is a Joshua Venture Fellow, a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Covenant Award for excellence and innovation in Jewish education, and was named to The Forward’s 2018 list of Sexiest Jewish Intellectuals Alive (and is both tickled and embarrassed again, and also more sheepish about the intellectual part than the sexy part). While learning and teaching Talmud are her greatest passions, Benay is also a licensed pilot, shoemaker, and patent-holding inventor. Queer Talmud Camp is Benay’s Happy Place and the highlight of her year! (SVARA Faculty, Rosh Yeshiva)
Elaina Marshalek (she/her) | SVARA Fellow. Elaina loves to color code her daf (page of Talmud) in full rainbow. She is hungry to help uncover the Torah and wisdom that y’all SVARA-niks carry and is excited to be back at camp! Elaina was born, raised, schooled, and still resides in the Bay Area, Ohlone territory. She has a background in math, forestry, and organizational transformation, and currently works as Director of Strategy for UCSF Health. She is excited to continue experimenting with “lay teaching” with SVARA and to support the rad, vibrant learning community at her home and beyond.
Frankie Sandmel (they/them) | SVARA Fellow. Frankie is an educator, community organizer, and rabbinical student in Boston, MA. They are originally from the Chicago area where they learned to love teaching, Talmud, and teaching Talmud while working and studying at SVARA and the Jewish Enrichment Center. Now on their way to becoming a rabbi, Frankie continues to teach students of all ages, to organize the Jewish community towards justice, and to bake cookies whenever possible.
Maggid Jhos Singer (he/him) | SVARA Fellow. Jhos is a professional Jewish educator, community and congregational leader, writer, and speaker. He is an out transman, a parent, spouse, mixologist and skillful home chef. He relishes his time spent in Jewish text study, hiking, and facilitating spiritual experiences for his flock and students. His credentials include Maggidic ordination by fire, smoke, song, stick,and sea conferred by Rabbi Gershon Winkler in 2002, and just to be safe, he holds an MA in Jewish Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkelely, CA (2012). He is stupid in love with Head Fairy Julie Batz, to whom he is gratefully married.
Laynie Soloman (they/them) | SVARA Faculty. Laynie is a passionate teacher of Jewish text and thought, and they believe deeply in the power of Talmud study as a healing and liberatory spiritual practice. They love facilitating Jewish learning that uplifts the piously irreverent, queer, and subversive spirit of rabbinic text and theology. Laynie holds a M.A. in Jewish Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary, is a Schusterman Fellow (Cohort 5), and received the Covenant Foundation’s 2020 Pomegranate Prize for Emerging Jewish Educators. Laynie is an Ashkenazi third generation Philadelphian, and when they’re not learning Talmud, you can find Laynie reading about liberation theology, collecting comic books, and singing nigunim.
Rabbi Hayley Goldstein (she/her) is just your average frum, queer, rabbinical student from Minnesota. Though she has studied Talmud in a dozen different settings, she fell in love with Talmud when learning from a queer teacher in a queer beit midrash at Svara’s Queer Talmud Camp in Wisconsin. She is a passionate Jewish educator who’s experiences range from teaching 2nd graders Aleph-Bet Yoga in a Brooklyn classroom, to feeding goats with 7th graders at Ramah of the Rockies in Colorado, to teaching chassidus in the woods to teens, and more. Hayley’s other passions include, but are not limited to: acapella, puppeteering, pottery, cooking, yoga, and her fat, glorious cat, Yossi.
Rabbi Lauren Tuchman (she/her) received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018 and is, as far as she is aware, the first blind woman in the world to enter the rabbinate. A sought after speaker, spiritual leader and educator, Rabbi Tuchman has taught at numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues throughout North America and was named to the Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her innovative leadership concerning inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life.
Rabbi Bronwen Mullin (she/her) (ord. 2017, MA Midrash JTS, BA in Theater and Religious Studies, Sarah Lawrence College) is the rabbi of Carov, an independent mishkan with a mission in Jersey City, and was the first-ever appointed Rabbinic Artist-in-Residence of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She is the co-founder of Meta-Phys Ed with performance artist/director Jesse Freedman. Rabbi Bronwen has held teaching positions at JTS, The Schechter Institute in Jerusalem, The Academy of Jewish Religion in New York, Art Kibbutz New York (where she also served as Artistic Director), the Romemu Yeshiva, the JCC of Manhattan, and the 14th Street Y.
Selected works include: “Chalom: A Dream Opera” (Hebrew/Aramaic, International Fringe Festival/FringeNYC 2012); “Bat Yiftach: A Tragic Punk Opera” (English/Hebrew, The Kreischer Mansion 2016) and “Ca’asi Revaya: Nigunim For A Raging Heart” (album release Winter 2022). She is deeply proud and humbled at the same time to be on the faculty of SVARA where she gets to practice fully her most beloved art form—radical Judaism.