Episode 25: Finding Your Sacred Space. Thinking Outside Of The Hillel w/Rabbi Avram Mlotek
“Yet I know that there is a small but growing number of Orthodox rabbis from across the Modern Orthodox spectrum who believe that this is where we have to be moving. I hope that in doing so as a community, queer Jews will see themselves as valued in the community and see that their rabbis are ready to celebrate their life choices of sacred covenantal marriage as well. It is not only about upholding the dignity of the human being, but upholding the dignity of the Torah itself, which emphasizes the need for loving partnership.”
-Rabbi Avram Mlotek, excerpt from a recent published article of his
Rabbi Avram Mlotek is the co-founder of Base Hillel and serves as rabbi for its MNHTN location. Avram graduated from Brandeis University and has studied at Sarah Lawrence College, Yeshiva University’s Cantorial School and City College’s Educational Theatre department. A native Yiddish speaker, Avram’s Yiddish cultural work has brought him to China, Ethiopia, Israel, Sweden, Romania and Australia. Prior to joining Base, Avram served as a rabbi-in-training at The Carlebach Shul, The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and Hunter College Hillel.
Avram has clinical pastoral education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Avram’s writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Forward, Tablet, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The New York Jewish Week, The Huffington Post and Kveller, among other blogs. In 2012, The NY Jewish Week selected him as a “leading innovator in Jewish life today” as part of their “36 Under 36” section. In 2016, Avram was listed as one of America’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis” by The Jewish Daily Forward. He is married to Yael Kornfeld, a geriatric social worker, and proud Tati to Revaya and Hillel Yosl.
Base Hillel finds itself at the intersection between many worlds. Is it a shul (synagogue)? Is it home hospitality? Is it Chabad? To some extent it is both an insider and an outsider as a Jewish organization within the larger Jewish ecosystem. Avram, like his namesake Abraham, says that as Jews our task is to be the boundary crossers and to push for what is needed and what is right - rather than what is easy and what is acceptable. Base Hillel presents a new model of young adult engagement for people that want ancient Jewish ideas + rituals but in modern spaces. It is a space to explore the things that mean the most to them and to see how their friends and ancestors wrestle with those ideas as well.
Base Hillel creates a space for young adults in college and post-college to find a space where they can be their truest selves without feeling judged. So I speak with Avram about who his role models are for being one’s trust self and how to cultivate a sense of gratitude and awe. Avram points to his children as inspiration for endless imagination and creativity.
To watch a video with Avram and his podcast co-host Rabbi Jon Leener, click play below!
For the video and social experiment mentioned by Avram about the need to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us, please click play below.
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