Judaism Unbound Episode 109: Open Doors


Dan and Lex reflect on their conversations with members of The Open Dor Project's first cohort. They re-visit how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs relates to contemporary Judaism, explore how issues of social justice could take on a more central place in Jewish institutional life, and interrogate the conceptions of "community" and "variety." [1]

(0:01 – 17:23): To begin the episode, Dan and Lex look back on a theme from their earliest episodes: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. They explore how their recent conversations with Open Dor Project cohort members shed light on the various levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy, and what that could mean for the future of Jewish institutions. In particular, they look at the concept of community, which connects with the “belonging” level of Maslow’s Hierarchy. [2] They ask whether the Jewish institutional world’s success at sustaining institutions devoted to “community” building has made it a challenge for them to reach to the self-actualization level, located at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

(17:24 - 32:50): Lex next asks whether it really rings true for "self-actualization" to inhabit the top level of Maslow's Hierarchy. Instead, he proposes that some form of justice, or "world actualization" beyond any one self may deserve its place at the top of the pyramid. [3] Dan then draws an analogy to extend this point, comparing the Jewish institutional landscape to a recent interaction of his with Comcast, his internet provider (notably, in this analogy, it is not his cable provider). [4] [5] They also examine why, when so many Jews identify social justice as part of their Judaism, there are not more local organizations whose sole or primary purpose is to create a context for Jews to work towards a more just world. [5] They also suggest that that reality may be worth shifting in the future. [6]

(32:51 - 48:01): The co-hosts look back specifically at their conversation with Dan Ain, including how it elucidated the ways music serves a deep, spiritual role in many people's lives. To close the episode, Dan and Lex compare and contrast ideas of "community," discussed earlier in the episode, and "variety," -- a concept that is more important to many people than many longstanding institutions may perceive. 

[1] Listen into the previous five episodes of Judaism Unbound, which this episode is reflecting on, at the following links: Episode 104: The Open Dor Project - George Wielechowski     Episode 105: The Well - Dan Horwitz     Episode 106: Cohere - Ari Moffic     Episode 107: Because Jewish - Dan Ain     Episode 108: The Jewish Studio Project - Adina Allen, Jeff Kasowitz

[2] To view Ari Moffic's ELI Talk, mentioned early in this episode, click here.

[3] For an article critiquing the absence of justice in Maslow's (and others') hierarchy of human needs, see "Justice as a Human Need," by A.J.W. Taylor.

[4] For more on the concept of "Jobs to be Done," see Episode 54: Judaism's Job - Irwin Kula Part II. For a full book on the subject, see Clayton Christensen's Competing Against Luck.

[5] Dan's analogy to Comcast aligns with past Judaism Unbound conversations on bundling vs. modularity. Engage with these ideas through listening to Episode 25: Unbundling Judaism.

[6] One project mentioned, that could be replicated elsewhere around the country, is Carolina Jews for Justice. Learn more about it by clicking here.

[7] For other strategies regarding the potential centralization of social justice in Jewish life, see Episode 91: Is This The Fast That I Have Chosen? - Jonah Pesner.