Episode 21: jOS 4.0 - A New Jewish Operating System?

Might we learn something about Judaism from the cell phones that we carry in our pocket every day? In this episode, Dan and Lex explore whether Judaism's "operating system" is functioning properly. If not, they ask whether it is need of a "patch," an "upgrade," or a "new release" -- or is it even possible that Judaism could shift from an "operating system" into an "app"?

Image Credit: www.tekrevue.com

Image Credit: www.tekrevue.com

(0:01 - 13:21): We lay out the metaphorical framework of Judaism as an operating system. Dan lays out three models for potential Jewish change that he analogizes to "patching" the operating system, "upgrading" it, and creating an entirely "new release." [1] Furthermore, we ask whether an even bigger transition might be taking place, where Judaism is transitioning from an "operating system" (the primary or foundational identity of its adherents) to an app -- where it is merely one element of people's lives alongside many others. [2]

(13:22 - 24:53): We explore the ways in which Judaism would look different in the future if it transitioned into an application (an app), as opposed to an operating system. [3] This includes a shift from the question of "How do I live as a Jew?" to "Why be (or do) Jewish at all?" [4]

(24:54 - 42:24): Is Judaism "all or nothing"? We consider the extent to which Judaism could in the future become "unbundled" -- where individuals opt in to particular elements of Jewish ritual, history, culture, and more without opting in to the entirety of Judaism as a system. Additionally, we ask whether Judaism fundamentally is or should be dedicated to being separate from the rest of the world and its various religious traditions. Is it "crossing a line" for Judaism to incorporate practices from other religious or non-religious traditions? What about the inverse -- is it problematic for those who are not Jewish to incorporate elements of Judaism into their lives? [5] Perhaps answers will shift as Judaism transitions into a different kind of operating system or into a "cross-platform app."

[1] In discussing Judaism as an operating system, we allude to the story of Steve Jobs, the man behind Apple and its successful operating systems. For more on the story we discuss of how NeXT's operating system (designed by the company Jobs created after he left Apple) was later acquired by Apple, read this piece.

[2] Dan wrote an article, entitled "Jewish Education for a Time of Wandering," in 2012 in Zeek Magazine that began to explore the idea of "Judaism 4.0," which we develop further in this episode. To read Dan's article, visit this link

[3] In discussing The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, we allude to an earlier episode of our podcast (Episode 6: Leviticus II). To listen to it, click here

[4] For the importance of making "why" an enterprise's central question, watch this TED Talk, entitled "Start With Why," featuring Simon Sinek (available by clicking on the video directly to the right).

[5] At the end of the episode, Lex refers to a Jewish school in Utah whose student body is only 25% Jewish. Learn more by reading this article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.