“SVARA is my home.”

“You indeed created something that way transcends the intellectual pursuit of knowledge of Talmud.  I am so impressed about how deeply you have touched people. And what is most impressive are those people who did not have prior experience in studying the Talmud. Yours is truly Avodat Kodesh.  I am glad that I joined you in your last session.   Thanks for letting me in. I, too, felt the positive vibes and basked in them, and was totally in the present.”

“Honestly, this class gives me hope for the Jewish people.”

“At SVARA, I feel accepted, welcomed, and valued.  My Jewish identity and background is incredibly complex.  As a result, I wind up straddling the worlds of religious Orthodoxy and radical left politics, leaving me feeling unwelcomed and at a loss in many  social, political and religious settings.  SVARA is a place where I find common cause and purpose with a community of learners who don’t care how I dress, pray, or vote.  I am valued for my intellect and curiosity, not for how I cover my hair.  I am finally able to access Talmud for myself–not through the filter of a Rabbinic community that I increasingly distrust.  SVARA is radically inclusive community with space at the table for me, and for that I am enormously grateful.”

“I never “got” the Jewish texts and have always considered Jews who prioritized Torah and Talmud to be superstitious [and] judgemental…Now I understand something about community and the place of the texts and traditions…in making us a people.”

“It was an honor and a revelation to come to SVARA last night and study under your tutelage. I want to thank you for being so welcoming, so enthusiastic, and so excellent a teacher. And it was wonderful to be welcomed into such a diverse cohort. I loved the study; but as absorbing as it was, I also loved just looking around the room! I have always been a seeker, and rarely (till now) in the intellectual sense. I have always loved writing and teaching, and especially teaching adults. I realized this anew when I saw you work last night. You cultivated a real sense of “beginner’s mind” in everyone — even those who’d studied with you for a long time. Adults sometimes come to study with strong biases and preconceptions, but when they come with a beginner’s mind, it’s a miracle. Beginner’s mind is the most precious commodity in spiritual life and study, I think. These were people who wanted what you offered, wanted to work collaboratively rather than compete, and thirsted for a way into a tradition that had seemed closed to them.”