Judaism Unbound Episode 58: Jewish Economics - Carmel Chiswick


How do Jews decide how (and whether) to invest their time and money in Judaism? Economist Carmel Chiswick joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about that question and more in this episode of Judaism Unbound. [1]

(0:01 - 13:35): Chiswick begins by discussing her own journey that led to writing the book Judaism in Transition, [2] and providing a brief summary of some basic concepts in labor economics. She also begins to explore how those concepts can be applied to contemporary forms of Jewish observance.

(13:36 - 26:10): Chiswick looks deeper at Judaism, both in the 20th and 21st century, through the lens of labor economics. [3] First, she engages with shifts in how and when Jews have chosen to allocate their time (or not) to Judaism. In doing so, she highlights the concept of substitutes and complements, and puts forth an argument for how it can help us understand the contemporary emphasis in Jewish life on the principle of Tikkun Olam (social justice). [4] 

(26:11 - 40:42): Our podcast has looked at the period directly after the destruction of the 2nd temple from a wide variety of angles, but Chiswick's lens of labor economics had not entered into our equation. Here, she brings her perspective to that historical development. In closing, she looks forward into the Jewish future, examining the impact that new forms of technology will have on the economics of Judaism in the 21st century and beyond. [5]

[1] Learn more about Carmel Chiswick by reading her bio, accessible by clicking here.

[2] Purchase Judaism In Transition by clicking here.

[3] Chiswick's essay "How Economics Helped Shape American Judaism" provides further depth on a number of issues discussed in this episode. Read it by clicking here

[4] Learn more about the framework of substitutes and complements by clicking here.

[5] Chiswick refers to the book The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History as another helpful resource that explores the intersection of economics and Judaism. Purchase it by clicking here.