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.
What happens when a 3,000 year old tradition that is filled with deep ideas about sacred space and time, the capacity to achieve liberation from bondage, and also has a lot of talk about camels and goats collides with contemporary values such as feminism, creating inclusive spiritual community for Jews of all hues and non-Jews as well, and the importance for honest talk about theology or the lack thereof?
You get @Modern_Ritual.
Gefilte fish was once an innovative way to stretch how far one fish could go to feed a family, a powerful symbol of European peasantry. The canned variety, by contrast, is a poignant reminder of how far we’ve strayed from the old days, so much so that gefilte has become synonymous with the outdated, the gray, the antiquated and the Old World.
But we need not accept the extinction of this tradition, or of the robust, colorful, fresh flavors of Ashkenazi cuisine.
This is an important point to consider within religious movements as they advocate for their adherents to be more humble with their voice, yet many of those being addressed do not a have voice in the communal conversations to begin with - do not have a seat at the table when decisions are being made around who counts and who doesn’t, who is ordained and who is not.
One of the successes that Rabbi Plumb touched on was how it allowed for people to bring their whole selves into the community. One of the middot (attributes) that the congregation adopted was the idea of b’tzelem elohim that each and every human being is divine and that every part of their lives is filled with holiness (holy sparks, some might say) - no part of which they should feel ashamed or judged for.
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the President & Dean of the Valley Beit Midrash (Jewish pluralistic adult learning & leadership), the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek (Jewish Social Justice), the Founder and CEO of The Shamayim Institute (Jewish animal advocacy), the Founder and President of YATOM, (Jewish foster and adoption network), and the author of sixteen books on Jewish ethics. Newsweek named Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America and the Forward named him one of the 50 most influential Jews.
Alexander Zeldin is the former Senior Communications Associate at the American Jewish Committee (AJC). He is currently a strategic planning senior analyst for American Express. Alex graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science. As talented and creative as he is in his day job, Alex is also an active writer and political pundit. You can find his work in publications such as The Jewish Daily Forward and Tablet Magazine. You can always reach out to him directly at his Twitter account: @Wonko_the_sane_ just be sure you are bringing your A-game, because he sure will be.