Summer 2017 Issue

From the Editors

It is with great excitement that we publish this first issue of Wise, sharing the creativity and wisdom of our colleagues at HUC-JIR (and a few freshly minted graduates).

In this issue, you will find examples of their Torah ranging from polyglot poetry to soaring song to prophetic visualizations of ancient texts to incisive analyses of problems old and new.

We hope that you learn from their work was much as we did.

We welcome your feedback at

A Better Question By Tobias Moss


Tobias Divack Moss is a fourth-year rabbinical student on the New York campus. Next year he will serve as a rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. In addition to the rabbinate, Tobias is passionate about bluegrass music, backpacking, and the oft-lowly New York Knicks.

In This Place By Cantor Shanna Zell

This song, loosely based on Genesis 28:10-17, describes the deep bond cultivated between a student cantor and the community who inspired and shaped her journey.

Cantor Shanna Zell, a singer-songwriter turned cantor, is was ordained from the DFSSM in May 2017. Before embarking on her cantorial journey, Shanna performed live shows with her powerful pop-rock ensemble, “Shanna & the Zellots” and has released two albums both comprised of original music. She is excited to be serving Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley, MA as their Assistant Cantor beginning this summer.

Envisioning the Tanakh By Rabbi Rachel Heaps

These “word clouds” were created by mapping the words of the Biblical text onto various silhouettes using an application called Tagxedo.

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Rabbi Rachel Heaps was ordained from the New York campus in May 2017. In July, she will begin serving as the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL. She has a special fondness for penguins and science jokes.

A Tale of Two Cities: Sodom and Gomorrah Over the Centuries By Max Chaiken

By examining the layers of traditional readings and retellings that have accumulated on top of the classic story of Sodom and Gomorrah, this essay seeks to reveal a new range interpretive possibilities for the text that may offer comfort to those who remain afflicted by its narrative.

Max Chaiken is a fifth-year student on the Los Angeles campus. He currently serves as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA. In addition to his academic pursuits, Max composes original Jewish music and poetry, and he enjoys cooking and exercise.

The Halachic Requirements of Conversion: An Historical and Halachic Analysis of Mishpat Uziel Even Ha’Ezer, Responsum 20 By Rabbi Benj Fried

Exploring challenging questions concerning conversion, halacha, and K’lal Yisrael, this essay closely examines a the surprising conclusions of a notable responsum on the subject by the 20th century decisor Rabbi Ben-Zion Hai Uzziel.

Rabbi Benj Fried was ordained from the Los Angeles Campus in May, 2017. He will begin serving as the rabbi educator at Temple Emanu-El in San Diego in July. Rabbi Frief is an avid political nut, theater goer, and sports fan—particularly for his Golden State Warriors.

Here Comes the Ally: Three Principles for the Gender Ally By Rabbi Jeremy Gimbel

Culling insights and imperatives from sources classical and contemporary, this essay enumerates three principles for the gender Ally: 1) Honor the Human; 2) Hear Their Story; 3) Act.

Rabbi Jeremy Gimbel was ordained from the Los Angeles campus in May, 2017. He currently serves as the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, CA. Rabbi Gimbel is also a musician, film maker, and enjoys cooking for his wife Sarah and their two kids, Ari and Maya.

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