Judaism Unbound Episode 96: ModernTribe - Amy Kritzer, Jennie Rivlin Roberts


Dan and Lex are joined by Amy Kritzer and Jennie Rivlin Roberts, the President and Founder (respectively) of ModernTribe, "a Judaica store for people with innovative minds, spirits, and style." In our continuing exploration of innovation by "regular Jews," we explore what it looks like to run a successful business and try to help to re-invigorate contemporary Judaism at the same time.

(0:01 - 18:02): To begin the episode, Jennie Rivlin Roberts tells the origin story of ModernTribe. [1] She discusses the early success of her No Limit Texas Dreidel product, [2] and how she was able to successfully channel that success towards the growth of her business more broadly. She and Amy Kritzer then explore other products, like No Limit Texas Dreidel, that have taken national or international trends and found a way to create Jewish products related to them, [3] along with some of the critiques they have received as a result of those popular products. They discuss the significance of the 2013 phenomenon of "Thanksgivukkah" that took over the Jewish world and the role that the "Menurkey" played in that moment. [4]

(18:03 - 33:24): Kritzer discusses the developments that led to her food blog, entitled What Jew Wanna Eat ("your source for home-cooked Jewish goodness!"), [5] along with her cookbook Sweet Noshings: New Twists on Traditional Jewish Desserts[6] Next, she looks at some of the less-popular holidays (in terms of observance and product purchases) on the Jewish calendar, and how ModernTribe goes about elevating products associated with them. Kritzer and Rivlin Roberts also talk about "Chrismukkah," a hotly debated topic in many Jewish communities, and how ModernTribe has looked to affect the conversation about interfaith families through its products that traverse the lines that we draw between religions (and their respective holidays). [7]

(33:25 - 46:49): Rivlin Roberts and Kritzer look at how their work selling Jewish products relates to broader questions about changing the Jewish world and society more broadly. Jewishly, they discuss their hope to shift gift-giving for B Mitzvahs (Bar, Bat, B'nei Mitzvahs) towards a focus on Judaica, and away from one revolving around money. In a broader question, they explore the lines that they have drawn with respect to Donald Trump -- highlighting their refusal, when asked, to sell yarmulkes with his name on them.

[1] Check out ModernTribe for yourself by clicking here. You may just find a late Hanukkah gift for someone you love!

[2] Learn more about No Limit Texas Dreidel by visiting its website. To purchase it for yourself or a friend, click here.

[3] One product that Kritzer cites, that takes a popular trend and makes it Jewish, is the Dreidel Fidget Spinner. Check it out by clicking here!

[4] Learn more about the Menurkey, and the 10-year-old boy (now 14) who invented it (when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided in 2013), by clicking here!

[5] To check out What Jew Wanna Eat, and all of its yummy recipes, click here!

[6] Purchase a copy of Sweet Noshings by clicking here!

[7] Watch The OC's Chrismukkah episode (Season 1: Episode 13 - The Best Chrismukkah Ever), which helped amplify much of the Chrismukkah merchandise mentioned by Rivlin Roberts and Kritzer, by clicking here (costs $1.99 to view on Youtube).