Episode 24: BimBam - Sarah Lefton

What does it look like to start a Jewish organization that functions almost entirely in the digital world? Sarah Lefton, the founder and executive director of BimBam (formerly G-dcast), an organization that produces animated videos about Jewish texts, practices, and ideas, as well as apps and other new media, [1] joins Dan and Lex to give us a window into that process. She outlines her own Jewish story, the evolution of BimBam over time, some of the unique characteristics of digital forms of Judaism, and more. [2]

Before founding Bimbam, Lefton was a successful t-shirt designer! Here, she's pictured with one of the t-shirts she designed.

Before founding Bimbam, Lefton was a successful t-shirt designer! Here, she's pictured with one of the t-shirts she designed.

(0:01 - 18:53): Lefton begins by looking back at her own Jewish life. She discusses growing up with a strong sense of Jewish pride, but very little knowledge, and then describes her corrective journey into Jewish study and texts that began in her twenties and outlines how that story helped lead to the founding of G-dcast (now BimBam). [3] [4]

(18:54 - 31:50): We explore the feelings of intimidation and alienation that can arise in people who are less Jewishly knowledgeable (or feel less knowledgeable) than other Jews they encounter. [5] Lefton also analyzes the success that BimBam has had reaching intermarried families and couples, along with prospective converts to Judaism.

(31:51 - 43:34): Lefton considers both the positive and negative sides of the digital world in general and digital Judaism in particular. We also go into some more detail about BimBam's series of videos on the yearly cycle of Torah portions [6] and Bimbam's newest project -- a children's television show called Shaboom! [7]

[1] To learn more about BimBam and check out all of their videos, visit www.Bimbam.com.

[2] As part of Judaism Unbound's Shavuot Unbound initiative, one of our 6-hour tracks was to watch the entire cycle of BimBam's Torah portion videos! They're still available on our site, even though it's not Shavuot, and you can access them here (allow a few seconds for the page to load, as there are many videos).

[3] Dan and Sarah both spoke about the important role a conference called "The Conversation" played in their professional growth. (It's also where they first met, nearly a decade ago, when they were both starting out.) To learn more about this event (sponsored by New York's Jewish Week newspaper), visit its website here.

[4] Lefton speaks about her work at Camp Tawonga, a Jewish camp near Yosemite National Park, in discussing what led to the founding of BimBam. Visit the Camp Tawonga site here.

[5] Lefton explains that BimBam's video on shiva (a Jewish ritual for mourning the death of a loved one) arose partially due to her own intimidation at the thought of attending her very first shiva. Watch this video by clicking the video above and to the right (click the square button in the bottom right for full-screen).

[6] The very first video that Lefton produced for this project was on the Torah portion of Balak. Click the video above and on the left to watch it (click the square button in the bottom right for full-screen). 

[7] Watch the pilot episode of Shaboom by clicking the video directly to the left (click the square button in the bottom for full-screen).