Podcasting through Shavuot

Approximate image of Judaism Unbound co-host Lex Rofeberg during Shavuot

Approximate image of Judaism Unbound co-host Lex Rofeberg during Shavuot


What is Shavuot…and Why? A 4-Episode Mini-Series

Listen in to four “bonus” mini-episodes of Judaism Unbound, where Dan and Lex explore what Shavuot has been, what it is, what it could be, and why it matters.

Part 1 - What the Heck is Shavuot: So you might have heard the name -- "Shavuot" -- but what exactly does this holiday commemorate? How is it celebrated? In this first mini-episode in a series of four on Shavuot, Dan and Lex provide a basic overview of the history of Shavuot. They look at early iterations of it described in the Torah, shifts in its observance that came in the early rabbinic period, and further updates that occurred leading up to the present day.

Part 2 - The Future of Shavuot: In part two of Judaism Unbound's Shavuot mini-series, Dan and Lex do what they enjoy most -- they look to the future! In part one they looked at various forms of Shavuot observance that have manifested in the past and present, but what are new rituals or ideas that could be "imported" into Shavuot in the future?

Part 3 - What’s the Deal with the Dairy? But why is cheesecake part of Shavuot? Countless people have asked this question over the last few centuries, and a variety of answers have been provided. What are these answers? Why are dairy products considered by many to be an essential part of Shavuot? Dan and Lex look at this strange ritual, along with the (perhaps even strangers) arguments for it that have been discussed in Jewish texts. They also explore how we can create our own meanings for this quirky practice, along with the question of whether Jewish practices need to have tangible meaning at all!

Part 4 - The Book of Ruth: Traditionally, many of the books from the "Writings" section of the Hebrew Bible are associated with various holidays from the Jewish calendar year. The Book of Ruth was connected to the holiday of Shavuot. Dan and Lex dive into this book and ask the question: what elements of this text can we learn from and apply to our lives today?

7 Weeks in 1 Night

Beginning just after Passover, Dan and Lex welcomed 7 different guests onto the show. Together they made their way through the 7-week-long Omer period, which culminates in Shavuot, and asked big questions about the past, present, and future of Judaism. Can you, through a simultaneously traditional and unbound Shavuot all-nighter, listen to all 7 of these episodes in one night? The quest awaits you below.

David Jaffe, author of the National Jewish Book Award-winning book Changing the World from the Inside Out, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about Mussar -- both what it is, and the transformative potential that it possesses for individuals and the world.

Greg Marcus, founder of American Mussar and author of The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance through the Soul Traits of Mussar, joins Dan and Lex to look at what Mussar is, and how it can operate effectively in an American context.

Sarah Bunin Benor, Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and author of the award winning book Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language of Orthodox Judaism, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about Jewish languages, and the deeper discourses revealed through dialect.

Noam Sienna, author of the book A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969, joins Lex and Dan for a conversation about expanding our understanding of the Jewish past.

Rachel B. Gross, the John & Marcia Goldman Professor of American Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, thinks that food is “the world’s most important subject.” She joins Dan and Lex to tell them (and you!) why that is, and why that fact matters when we seek to understand the Jewish past, present, and future.

Ayalon Eliach, Director of Learning and Strategic Communications at the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, [1] joins Dan and Lex for a conversation that re-imagines forms of halachah (traditionally defined as “Jewish law”) that could look different than many might expect, and imbue lives with a deep sense of purpose and meaning.

Andrew Ramer, an ordained Maggid (storyteller) and author of Fragments of the Brooklyn Talmud, among other works, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about ecological crisis, the blurry line between future and past, and Judaism in the 22nd and 23rd century. So nothing major, really.