Entries by Aaron Potek

New People, Mini Groups

Want to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? Looking to explore questions that matter to Jewish 20s and 30s? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment? Gather the Jews is excited to open applications for the newest cohort (#3!) of Mini–Gatherings, taking place this April. What is Mini–Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship […]

If Traditional Shabbat Just Isn’t Your Thing…

If a more formal Shabbat experience or service just isn’t your thing but you still want to do something to mark the day, here are some ideas to get you started… 5 alternative approaches to doing Shabbat: 1) Mark the day. The name for each day of the week in Judaism is in relation to […]

3 Musicians and a Rabbi Have a Chat

I knew my conversation with the three members of Zusha (Elisha, Shlomo, and Zacharia) was going to be unique from the moment we began our skype call, and not just because I was a rabbi interviewing a group that specializes in Hasidic Soul. There they were – Zacharia strumming on a guitar, Elisha strutting across […]

You’ve Disturbed My Pretty Universe

I love when worlds, or in this case universes, collide. Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe mix-up this week strangely parallels another timely mix-up – from this week’s Torah reading. As the book of Genesis comes to a close, Joseph brings his two sons to their grandfather Jacob (renamed Israel) to be blessed. Joseph’s assumption, the assumption […]

On Master of None, Privilege, and Thanksgiving

Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix series, Master of None, was released on November 6, just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. And even though most of us finished the entire season by November 7, the timing helps highlight the connection between an overarching theme of the show and the upcoming holiday. A lot of attention has been […]

Ethnic vs. Religious Judaism

Jews have an identity crisis. Are we a religion, or are we an ethnicity? There is textual support for both answers, and the easiest solution to this crisis is to say that we’re both. I think this solution ignores the real challenge. While in theory one could identify as equally ethnic and religious, I have […]

An alternative view of Yom Kippur

For most Jews, the two words “Yom Kippur” evoke two other words: fasting and synagogue. I decided to lead a Lunch-and-Learn outside of a synagogue to see what would happen. Everyone who came was fasting (at least at that point), and most had come from synagogue, so it wasn’t the counter-cultural group of rebels I […]

Judaism that is more than get married, have babies

On one of my rabbi listservs there’s a long email chain about innovative high holiday programming for this year. There are many creative ideas, but I was struck by one not-so-creative common denominator: they are all taking place in a synagogue. To be fair, this is the time of year when many Jews, for whatever […]

Why do we gather the Jews?

“So, why did Gather the Jews hire a rabbi?” I’ve been asked this question at just about every coffee meeting I’ve had since starting this job. Of course, I’ve been asking myself the same question, and I don’t yet have the full answer. But in classic rabbinic fashion, I think the answer might begin with […]

Are you a Bad Jew?

On Tuesday night, at my debut event since becoming the rabbi for Gather the Jews, I just wanted to make a good first impression. And then I called everyone in the room a Bad Jew. Let me explain. I was asked to speak on a panel with Rabbi Aaron Miller of 2239 and Sarah Tasman […]