Sam Berrin Shonkoff

Sam Shonkoff

Sam Berrin Shonkoff is currently the Jewish student life coordinator at Stanford Hillel. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Brown University and has also studied in Jerusalem at Hebrew University, Pardes Institute and The Conservative Yeshiva. Sam's passions include backpacking, meditation, friends and family, writing, dancing and social action. He believes that mindful engagement with Torah can be a way for us to encounter ourselves and others more intimately. Sam can be reached at samshonkoff@gmail.com.

Vayakhel-Pekudei

The Talmudic phrase bitul Torah, literally the “cancellation of Torah,” refers to the time one spends occupied with the world at large, away from Jewish text study. Chol, literally “profane,” refers to the six days of the week before Shabbat. Such language suggests that religious life takes place only within the temporal boundaries of ritual. …Read More

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Vayakhel-Pekudei

The Talmudic phrase bitul Torah, literally the “cancellation of Torah,” refers to the time one spends occupied with the world at large, away from Jewish text study. Chol, literally “profane,” refers to the six days of the week before Shabbat. Such language suggests that religious life takes place only within the temporal boundaries of ritual. …Read More

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Yitro

Experiences and behaviors that we define as “spiritual” tend to be of a specifically inward nature. We generally associate spirituality—admittedly, an opaque term—more with thought, soul and self than with action, materiality and society. In other words, we are more likely to identify a reclusive monk as spiritual than an outspoken politician. The Torah provides …Read More

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Shmot

Many people who effect dramatic change in the world speak of having had a “calling,” a powerful pull toward a particular life’s work or path of action. In the Torah, God appears frequently as the emissary of Divine calling, inspiring people to rise to their destined paths of duty. Abraham and Sarah’s three hungry guests,[1] …Read More

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Vayetze

The bumper sticker on my brother’s car reads, “Everyone does better when everyone does better.” This statement brims with optimism: it is a vision of shared work and shared gain. Yet as I repeat this phrase, the terms begin to flicker: Is the “doing better” economic or moral? Who is considered to be part of …Read More

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Lech Lecha

Parshat Lech Lecha chronicles Avram’s development and maturation into the role that God designates for him: to be the seed of a new people whose values are rooted in justice and righteousness.[1] God tells Avram to “be a blessing,”[2] a cryptic phrase for the nascent leader and for us. What does it mean to “be …Read More

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