Judaism Unbound Episode 90: Audacious Hospitality - April Baskin


April Baskin, Vice President of Audacious Hospitality for the Union for Reform Judaism, joins Dan and Lex for an in-depth look at ideas of welcoming, empowerment, inclusion, and hospitality in contemporary Judaism. [1] We discuss how the Reform movement is working to create communities that better reflect the full diversity of the Jewish people, and the ways in which historically marginalized Jews, in particular, have so much to add Judaism, now and in the future.

If you'd like to download this episode as an mp3 file, click here.

Image Credit: New York Jewish Week

Image Credit: New York Jewish Week

(0:01 - 18:14): To begin the episode, Baskin explains what it takes for congregations to become "audaciously hospitable." [2] First, she identifies the gap between congregations' perceptions of how welcoming they are and the experiences of those who feel unwelcome in the same spaces. She discusses three primary contexts for audacious hospitality work: "threshold moments" when individuals experience a particular community for the first time; outreach that occurs outside of the walls of a community (sometimes online); and efforts to make congregational policies more inclusive. [3]

(18:15 - 40:27): Baskin explores the different ways that hospitality work manifests with respect to two different groups: those who have historically been denied access and equal status in Jewish communities, and those who, while never denied access, feel uncomfortable in many Jewish spaces for other reasons. She also outlines six principles of audacious hospitality that the Union for Reform Judaism utilizes. [4] She then takes a look in particular at the ways in which issues of class can prove particularly challenging (or "spicy!") for congregations working to become more inclusive. 

(40:28 - 58:21): Baskin describes the beauty of her experience sharing a space with other Jews of Color, despite the fact that for some it may have felt exclusive. [5] She thinks more broadly about the value of affinity groups -- spaces specifically for some Jews but not all -- and argues that there may be room to deepen our investment in creating those environments. She then looks at the issue of intermarriage, along with the ways that the URJ's JewV'Nation Fellowship has worked on issues affecting interfaith families. [6] To close, she calls for a Jewish renaissance through the incorporation of all of the Jews into Jewish life who have, for more generations, been left unwelcome and unempowered.

[1] Access a full bio of April Baskin by clicking here. Learn more about the Union for Reform Judaism, which she serves as Vice President of Audacious Hospitality, by clicking here.

[2] Explore the section of the URJ website devoted to Audacious Hospitality by clicking here.

[3] Watch a panel on audacious hospitality, featuring Baskin, alongside actor Michael Douglas, Jodi Kantor of the New York Times, and restaurateur Danny Meyer, by clicking the video on the left.

[4] Access the full Audacious Hospitality toolkit, created by the URJ, by clicking here.

[5] Baskin speaks in particular about how empowered she felt when she learned about the work and leadership of Yavilah McCoy. Learn more about McCoy by clicking here.

[6] If you'd like to explore topics related to intermarriage in more depth, listen to Judaism Unbound's three-part series, entitled Intermarriage: The New Normal. Access any of the episodes that were part of that series by clicking the following links: Episode 15: Men, Women, and Intermarriage - Keren McGinityEpisode 16: Intermarriage and the Future - Paul GolinEpisode 17: Intermarriage - A Fact of 21st Century Judaism. You can also listen to Episode 73: Being Both - Susan Katz Miller, which was not part of that series but touches on a variety of important and related topics.