Judaism Unbound Episode 37: Jewish Sensibilities - Jonathan Woocher and Lee Moore


Jonathan Woocher and Lee Moore of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah join Dan and Lex to kick off a series of episodes beginning to discuss the content of the Judaism of the future by introducing the idea of "Jewish sensibilities," [1] exploring why and how such a framework might resonate with contemporary American Jews and their communities.

Image Credits: Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah

Image Credits: Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah

(0:01 - 15:35): Lee Moore explains the framework of "Jewish sensibilities" as a way of thinking about what kinds of Jewish content will be most resonant in the Jewish future. [2] She illustrates the idea using one of the ten sensibilities that the foundation focuses on ("We were strangers in Egypt") as an example. Jonathan Woocher expands on the framework by discussing how, eventually, these Jewish sensibilities can become part of our "fast thinking mode," becoming internalized to the point that they operate instinctively in people. Woocher and Moore also consider how sensibilities can be both particularly Jewish and universal simultaneously.

(15:36 - 26:23): Through exploring the recent campaign of Bernie Sanders, [3] Woocher discusses how Jewish sensibilities might be engaged even by those who don't consciously ground those sensibilities in Jewish texts or observances. Our guests also look at the extent to which these sensibilities can have a positive impact on the broader world beyond the lives of individual Jews.

(26:24 - 35:05): Dan connects the ideas in Yuval Noah Harari's upcoming book, Homo Deus, to the ideas being discussed in this conversation, [4] asking whether the sensibilities that Jews developed in thinking about God might be even more relevant today as guides for human behavior. He gives listeners a brief summary of the ten sensibilities that the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah has emphasized. [5]

(35:06 - 48:48): Woocher and Moore consider how these sensibilities could affect the work of contemporary institutions in a practical sense. They conclude the episode with a conversation about the first-ever Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom, including an analysis of the importance of "applied Jewish wisdom" today. [6] 

[1] Learn more about the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah by visiting their website.

[2] Read Vanessa Ochs's article from Sh'ma magazine that introduced the framework of Jewish sensibilities here.

[3] To explore some ways in which Bernie Sanders's campaign illuminates a variety of important conversations about contemporary Judaism, listen to Episode 14 of our podcast, entitled "Putting the 'American' in American Judaism."

[4] Pre-order Homo Deus on Amazon at this link (the book will be released in English on February 21, 2017).

[5] The Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah has created a series of cards based on the ten Jewish sensibilities that they emphasize. The cards, and the sensibilities, can be viewed here.

[6] Learn more about the Lippman Kanfer Prize by visiting its website.