Episode 26: Six Months In

It's hard to believe, but this episode marks Judaism Unbound's six-month anniversary -- 26 weeks! In honor of the occasion, Dan and Lex look back at what they've learned from the topics we've covered thus far, and offer a lens into the next six months of the podcast and beyond.

(0:01 - 12:19): We begin by exploring a theme we discovered in many of our guests -- they often start organizations to solve their own problems, engaging individuals similar to themselves in age and life experience. We also explore ways that our podcast is providing a space not merely to engage in Judaism, but also to talk about it. While we initially didn't realize that there was an audience out there looking for conversations about Judaism, we have since realized that Judaism Unbound is one of the only public-facing spaces that provides a way to participate in those discussions. [1]


(12:20 - 26:16): Dan brings up Hello Mazel, an initiative we have explored in many of our past episodes. [2] Specifically he and Lex consider their inclusion of margarita mix in their summer box, implying that Jews themselves can make any object relate to Judaism -- not just those that we see as inherently Jewish. We also ask how to balance the element of surprise with the familiarity that many people desire, especially in religious institutions. [3]

(26:17 - 43:36): We close by looking at the question of nature vs. nurture. Is there something inherent to particular people that gives them the ability to craft exciting new Jewish ideas? On the other hand, are there particular skills that can be taught? Some combination of the two? We also introduce the idea of "plausibility structures," along with the important role they can play in re-inventing Judaism. We also come back to the title of our initiaitive -- Judaism Unbound, exploring why it is we need to push past some of the limits we've imposed on genuine expressions of Judaism. [4]

[1] In this opening section of the show, we allude to some of our early episodes. If you were intrigued by some of our references to these early episodes, you can listen to them at the following links: Episode 3: Exodus - Benay Lappe, Episode 4: Exodus IIEpisode 12: Minhag America - Anita Diamant

[2] We have mentioned Hello Mazel, an initiative of The Kitchen (a San Francisco emergent community), a few times in past episodes. For our most in-depth look at it, check out Episode 23, featuring the individuals who created it -- Yoav Schlesinger and Noa Kushner of The Kitchen

[3] If you're interested in exploring the episodes we allude to in this segment, you can listen to Episode 5: Leviticus - Vanessa Ochs (on inventing and re-inventing Jewish ritual) and Episode 14: Putting the "American" in American Judaism (where we discuss the "Bernie Sanders Jews").

[4] We allude to a conversation about Judaism as an operating system towards the conclusion of this episode. To explore the question of Judaism as an operating system vs. Judaism as an app, listen to Episode 21: jOS 4.0 - A New Jewish Operating System?.