Lori Schneide Shapiro: Judaism Unbound Episode 160 - Open Temple

Lori Schneide Shapiro joins Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg for a conversation about Open Temple, an emerging Jewish community she founded in Venice, California.

00:01 - 15:32: Lori Schneide Shapiro begins this episode by telling the story of a Jewish journey that started from scratch. As someone who began with very little Jewish knowledge and eventually came to her Jewish identity through the arts, Schneide Sharpio founded the organization “Open Temple.” Founded in Venice, CA, as a way of reaching Jews on the periphery, [1] Open Temple seeks to integrate spirituality, music, and arts into Jewish ritual.

15:33 - 29:26: Schneide Shapiro discusses how Open Temple seeks to meet certain unmet Jewish needs, creating a space for “weavers” who can make connections between Jewish people and the arts. She describes an Open Temple Yom Kippur service involving a Rolling Stones song blended with liturgy, multimedia performance, and a former antisemitic “life after hate” member seeking forgiveness as an example of teshuva for our modern political moment. [2] The conversation turns to use of digital media in Judaism and questions about the integration of digital media into Jewish experiences. Schneide Shapiro says that using screens and digital media in ritual is another way that Jews are interacting with contemporary American culture, just as Jews have always done with their surrounding cultures.

29:27 - 42:40: Schneide Shapiro explores the intersection of Judaism and pop culture, along with ways in which organizations can encourage Jewish creators to make Jewish creations. She praises Reboot in particular, [3] an organization that provides Jewish education and engagement for people involved in popular culture — including “Transparent” Director, Jill Soloway. [4] The conversation moves briefly to the role that museums can play for Jewish creativity. Schneide Shapiro sees these as multi-media experiences and as places that are like temples: spaces where people go to come alive. She remarks that spiritual communities should be places that people go to feel something through a type of spiritual alchemy, emphasizing the importance of creating a Judaism that has levity and joy. She explains that a traditional Jewish God is a God who writes, and that as contemporary Jews we should honor that concept with our own creations. Schneide Shapiro concludes the episode by describing Open Temple as an open door for anyone to go on a “soul journey” to find their Jewish identity. [5]

[1] Learn more about Open Temple by visiting OpenTemple.org. Read a full bio of Lori Schneide Shapiro here.

[2] Take a look at LifeAfterHate.org to learn more about that project.

[3] More information about Reboot can be found at Rebooters.net.

[4] Watch a Reboot interview of Jill Soloway, director of Transparent, here.

[5] To explore two programmatic elements of Open Temple that were mentioned in this episode, check out the following links: Arts 36, Soul Journey