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Shavuot Budget #2: Three Hours

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Image Credit:

Are you looking for more than just sixty minutes worth of learning, but not quite ready or able to devote your entire night? These three-hour budgets are designed for you. Choose from the following options (all located on this page)!

Track 1 - Judaism: The Big-Picture

90 Minutes: Listen to the first two episodes of the Judaism Unbound podcast (audio above). Show notes, with a short summary and related links, can be found here (for Episode 1) and here (for Episode 2).

10 Minutes: Consider the following two questions. 

1. Richard Elliott Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? plays a key role in Episode 2, as Dan and Lex discuss the transformative role it played in their lives. Does the idea of the Torah being written by human beings have a strong effect on you? In a positive or negative sense? For people who accept the ideas developed by academic Biblical scholars and the discoveries of archaeologists over the last 100 years or so, what kind of meaning can they make of this holiday and of Judaism more broadly? 

2. What does the phrase "Judaism Unbound" mean to you? Are you persuaded by the co-hosts' arguments for an "unbound" Judaism? What role should boundaries play in the lives of 21st Century Jews? One meaning of "unbound" that was not discussed on the episode was the idea that, because of the internet, Judaism may no longer be bound by geography. Does participating in an online Shavuot experience inspire thoughts in you of where things might go in the future?

15 Minutes: Watch Beth Finger's JDOV Talk (below), entitled "The WOW factor."

5 Minutes: Consider the following question:

Finger begins her talk by stating two facts that might at first seem contradictory. First, she states that she has dedicated her life to the Jewish community. Second, she says that she only attends services three times a year. Did that statement strike you as odd? Alternatively, do you share her sentiments -- love for Judaism but disinterest in many Jewish institutions? How could the structure of Jewish life change in ways that would enhance the Jewish lives of Jews like Finger (and you)?

15 Minutes: Watch Stosh Cotler's JDOV Talk (above, on the right), entitled "Discontinuing Jewish Continuity."

5 Minutes: Consider the following two questions:

1. After listening to Cotler's talk, what do you think should be the role of "Jewish continuity." Should it be, as the title suggests, "discontinued?" 

2. What role does social justice play in your Jewishness? What would a 21st Century Judaism with social justice at its core look like?


15 Minutes: Watch Dan Libenson's ELI Talk (above), entitled "The Jewish Innovator's Dilemma."

5 Minutes: Consider the following question:

What role do you think disruptive change could play in American Judaism? Can the changes Beth Finger and Stosh Cotler want to see happen through existing institutions, or do we need to encourage "disruptions" from outside the current institutional structure?

Track 2 - A Jewish TV Binge

NOTES: One of the TV show episodes below (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's pilot) requires a $1.99 payment to view on Youtube. Also, the material in this track is not suitable for children.

30 Minutes: Watch the first episode of the series Transparent (click the image below to access the pilot episode for free on Amazon).

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60 Minutes: Watch the episode of Orange is the New Black entitled "Where my Dreidel At?" by clicking the image below and on the left (Netflix subscription required, not suitable for children)

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10 Minutes: Watch the video on the right, from a later episode in Orange is the New Black, continuing the Jewish storyline from the earlier full episode. Then consider the following questions: 

1. In the full episode, the rabbi states to Cindy, "While I am heartened that you appreciate the works of Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand, I think you've confused cultural Judaism with committed Jewish belief." Is cultural Judaism a shallower or "thinner" form of Judaism than Jewish belief? Why or why not? Could a deeper sense of what the word "culture" means be the seed from which a deeper "cultural Judaism" could grow?

2. Did Cindy's testimonial in the Youtube clip resonate with you? If you had to articulate the value of Judaism for you, as she did, what would you say?

20 Minutes: Watch an episode of Broad City, entitled "Jews on a Plane," by clicking the image below (not suitable for children).

Image Credit: Comedy Central

Image Credit: Comedy Central

40 Minutes: Watch the pilot episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend by clicking the image below (costs $1.99 to watch on Youtube).

5 Minutes: Watch the pilot episode of YidLife Crisis by clicking the video above and on the right.

15 Minutes Consider the following questions:

1. All four of the shows included in this three-hour track featured Jewishness prominently, but in decidedly non-traditional forms. What can we learn from the outside-the-box Jewish identities of characters like Cindy Hayes on Orange is the New Black or Abbi and Ilana from Broad City?

2. In four of these five shows with extensive Jewish themes, the main characters are women (the main character of Transparent is female-identifying, though the actor portraying her is not). What might these portrayals tell us about the impact or potential impact of feminism on 21st Century Judaism?

3. In YidLIfe Crisis, one character, when asked why he doesn't want to eat on Yom Kippur says, "It's not God I'm worried about, it's my parents!" Does the divine (perhaps God) or the communal (one's family) take precedence in your Jewishness? What would or could your Jewishness look like if neither of these external sources of demands was considered?

4. On a less academic level, which show did you enjoy most? Why?

Track 3 - Douglas Rushkoff's Testament

180 Minutes - Purchase Testament, a riveting graphic novel, at this link (you'll be able to view it immediately, it doesn't need to be shipped to you!).  It's well worth the $9.99 price. Once you've purchased it, journey through Douglas Rushkoff's award-winning comic, which simultaneously locates itself in the ancient past (specifically the book of Genesis) and in the future!

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Image Credit:

Track 4 - History in the Bible Podcast

160 Minutes: Listen to the first seven episodes of the History in the Bible podcast, hosted by Garry Stevens. He takes on scholarly issues in Biblical History from a Christian layperson's perspective -- while claiming not to be an expert, he brings a strong grasp of history to the table.

Image Credit: The History in the Bible Podcast

Image Credit: The History in the Bible Podcast

20 Minutes: Explore this page of Stevens's website, entitled "Show Notes: Maps Charts and Timelines for the History in the Bible Podcast," which compares and contrasts Christian and Jewish understandings of the Ten Commandments, unpacks the surprisingly difficult question of who the twelve tribes of Israel are (the Torah indicates different lists of twelve at different points), and provides a variety of maps that are helpful to anyone interested in better understanding the Hebrew Bible. 


We hope you enjoyed your three hour Shavuot budget. To jump directly to one of our other Shavuot Budgets, click the corresponding link below.