Episode 67: Seven Weeks in Silicon Valley


Dan and Lex close out their seven-episode series looking at the seven weeks of the Omer, the period between Passover and Shavuot, as an especially resonant symbol of our own time, which might be described as a time in between Judaisms. Looking back on our interviews drawing inspiration from Silicon Valley, the landscape of experimentation and innovation in our own day, Dan and Lex discuss the democratization of Judaism embodied and facilitated by the internet and revisit the question of Judaism as an operating system vs. Judaism as an app.

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(0:01 - 20:10): To begin the episode, Dan and Lex reflect on the ways that the digital world has helped to democratize Judaism, along with the ways in which there is still work to do on that front. [1] They discuss Eric Weiner's idea that the internet does indeed provide incredible access to data and information, but not necessarily to knowledge and wisdom. On a related note, Dan and Lex talk about how Jews often feel that they lack "permission" to experiment fully outside the bounds of "proper" or "correct" Jewish practice. [2]

(20:11 - 33:19):  Inspired by their exploration of Silicon Valley ideas, Dan and Lex return to a question they've explored in earlier episodes -- whether Judaism is best analogized to an "operating system" or an "app." [3] They look at this question through both a descriptive lens (is Judaism currently working as an operating system or an app in people's lives) and a prescriptive lens (should Judaism, in the future, work as an operating system or an app in people's lives). In exploring this issue, they discuss a variety of groups of Jews, including Orthodox Jews, Jewish Israelis, and those who are uninvolved in institutional Jewish life.

(33:20 - 44:16): To close the episode, Dan and Lex open up a new question which has resulted from their increasing sense that Judaism may, in fact, be an app and not an operating system today. If Judaism is an app, what is the app for? They also encourage listeners to check out Shavuot Unbound, an online initiative that offers diverse digital avenues for experiencing the tradition of all-night study on the eve of the holiday of Shavuot, [4] and to consider joining or creating "podcast circles" -- book-club-style groups we are organizing that meet regularly to talk about subjects raised in the Judaism Unbound podcast and to experiment with applying the ideas in practice. [5]

Dive into Shavuot Unbound,  Judaism Unbound's all-digital Shavuot experience, at www.judaismunbound.com/shavuot-unbound! With "tracks" ranging from one-hour to twelve-hours in length, on a wide diversity of topics, you'll have plenty of material to fill as much of your night as you'd like!

Dive into Shavuot Unbound,  Judaism Unbound's all-digital Shavuot experience, at www.judaismunbound.com/shavuot-unbound! With "tracks" ranging from one-hour to twelve-hours in length, on a wide diversity of topics, you'll have plenty of material to fill as much of your night as you'd like!

[1] This episode is the last in a seven-episode series that coincides with the counting of the Omer from Passover to Shavuot. For the episodes that preceded it, click the following links: Episode 61: Wandering in the Wilderness - Zack Bodner, Tova BirnbaumEpisode 62: The Geography of Jewish Genius - Eric Weiner, Episode 63: JewTube - Oona King, Episode 64: Judaism By Design - Jesse Dorogusker, Episode 65: Investing in the Future - Oren Ze'ev, Episode 66: Jewish? Community? Center? - Zack Bodner

[2] Lex mentions two digital resources, MyJewishLearning and Sefaria, that are particularly useful. You can explore MyJewishLearning by clicking here and Sefaria by clicking here.

[3] To engage further with the question of Judaism as an "operating system" or as an "app," listen to Episode 21: jOS 4.0 - A New Jewish Operating System?

[4] Explore all the possibilities of Shavuot Unbound, Judaism Unbound's digital Shavuot initiative, by clicking here!

[5] If you would like to create your own Judaism Unbound "podcast circle," please email Lex@NextJewishFuture.org and/or Dan@NextJewishFuture.org.