Judaism Unbound Episode 39: The Pico Union Project - Craig Taubman, Zach Lasker, Jason Chu

Craig Taubman, acclaimed Jewish musician and founder of Pico Union Project [1] in Los Angeles, Zach Lasker, the organization's new Executive Director, and Jason Chu, its Chief Storytelling Officer, bring their insights to Judaism Unbound for a timely discussion of art, "soul," loving our neighbors, and knowing our neighbors. [2]

Image Credit: Pico Union Project

Image Credit: Pico Union Project

(0:01 - 13:04): Taubman begins the episode by giving a brief overview of the history of the Pico Union Project. He also explains that the organization's core is the mission of "love your neighbor as yourself," which requires both knowing your neighbor and knowing yourself. Chu then discusses why he finds his work at Pico Union Project meaningful, highlighting its emphasis on the arts along with its focus on being both ecumenical and inter-generational.

(13:05 - 28:13): The conversation turns to the role of art and artists in both ancient and contemporary Judaism. [3] Taubman looks back on the historically central role of art in Judaism that eventually lost out to what he terms "knowledge and intellectualism." Chu introduces a distinction between the persistence of our existing religious institutions and the persistence of religion more generally. Through the story of Bezalel and Oholiav (the two men who, according to the Bible, led the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness), the conversation then turns to the question of leadership and "first followers." [4]

(28:14 - 47:52): In this latter portion of the episode, Lasker [5] describes his own journey into yoga and meditation, and how principles from those disciplines can be incorporated into Jewish practice. [6]

Image Credit: Inheritance Magazine

Image Credit: Inheritance Magazine

[1] Visit the Pico Union Project website by clicking here.

[2] Check out Taubman's music at www.CraigNCo.com and Chu's at JasonChuMusic.com

[3] Listen to Dan and Lex think expansively about the role of art and artists in Judaism by listening to Episode 32: The Art of Judaism.

[4] To read the original Biblical story of Bezalel and Oholiav, see Exodus, chapter 31, along with Exodus, chapters 35-39

[5] To learn more from Lasker about "embodied Judaism," read his June 2016 piece in eJewish Philanthropy.

[6] You can find more resources related to the growing world of Jewish yoga by visiting JewishYogaNetwork.org.