June 15, 2012
Welcome to Erev Rav
Yes, this blog is named for an old yeshivish groaner. We first read about the erev rav in the Torah (Exodus 12:38) “And also a mixed multitude (Erev Rav) went up with them…” We learn that a group of people, most of them Israelites, were liberated from slavery and became one people when they received the Torah at Sinai. Also, Erev Rav is what we call rabbinical students like me, because we’re on the eve (erev) of becoming rabbis. Within this blog, I’ll be writing about my last year (and some months) of being a rabbinical student.
And, anyway, there is a mixed multitude inside of me these days, and I hope this blog will reflect that. Like many of the students at the transdenominational Academy for Jewish Religion where I study, this is a third career for me (since when did being a rabbi turn into a career?), so my history as a political journalist, flak and culture critic are bound to influence my perspective. I’ll be sharing some of what I learn about our tradition from my monumentally knowledgeable teachers. I’ll also be applying my lessons and experiences to reflections about the news of the day and today’s Jewish communities. A nerd I am, for both Jewish texts and popular culture, so in these pages you’ll find references to the Piasetzener Rebbe and also the Jews of Glee.
And, now for our first adventure/gut check together—I’m off to Auschwitz via Germany and Krakow. I’ve been given the extraordinary opportunity, through a fellowship from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, to engage in serious study of the ethical issues raised by the Shoah with a group of multi-faith seminarians. This will be my first visit to the site of a death camp, my first visit to Germany and my first visit to Poland, the land from which my ancestors fled, giving me the chance to grow up in a free country—a land where, we are told, a Jewish rebirth is taking place.
I suspect this trip will provoke a transformation or two. I look forward to sharing with you.