82 episodes

Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations features interviews with thought-provoking rabbis, leaders and creators about the urgent issues faced by Jewish people today. As a part of Reconstructing Judaism’s multimedia Evolve project (http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org/), this podcast models respectful, sacred conversations about challenging topics.

Evolve Reconstructing Judaism

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 44 Ratings

Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations features interviews with thought-provoking rabbis, leaders and creators about the urgent issues faced by Jewish people today. As a part of Reconstructing Judaism’s multimedia Evolve project (http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org/), this podcast models respectful, sacred conversations about challenging topics.

    Religion Scholar Louis Newman Discusses Shattered Faith, the War in Gaza and Antisemitism on College Campuses

    Religion Scholar Louis Newman Discusses Shattered Faith, the War in Gaza and Antisemitism on College Campuses

    For a certain generation of Jewish Americans, Israel and the memory of the Holocaust represented twin pillars of civil religion, argues Louis Newman, a scholar of Jewish ethics and religion. While these pillars may have shown cracks for decades, Newman says they came crashing down on Oct. 7,2023. Israel had failed its most basic function: keeping Jews and all its inhabitants safe. What does a people do when its faith is shattered? What can we learn from our history? Where do we go from here? Newman discusses all this and more in a thought-provoking interview. The author of a new book on how to succeed in college also gives his take on campus antisemitism, anti-Israel protests and what colleges might do to restore both safety and the free exchange of ideas and expression.


    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Louis Newman.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Read Louis Newman's Evolve essay, "Living in a Time of Shattered Faith"Where We Stand: The Reconstructionist Movement, Israel and ZionismSign up for Evolve's free newsletter to stay up to date on the latest essays, videos and podcastsSupport Evolve with a donationExplore Evolve's essays about the Israel-Hamas warRegister for Evolve's upcoming web conversation, "The Right-Wing Extremists Are In Charge In Israel" — Rabbi Jonathan Kligler will discuss why he no longer supports a continuation of the war in Gaza despite his passionate commitment to a liberal, democratic Israeli state.Purchase Louis Newman's new book, "Thinking Critically in College"Read Louis Newman in Newsweek: "Look to the Liberal Arts to Lower the Temperature of Campus Culture Wars"Also by Louis Newman for Evolve, "The Other Jewish View of Forgiveness"Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-20011948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War1949: The First IsraelisPalestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East ConflictRead Rabbi Amy Eilberg's Evolve essay, "Lovingkindness in a Time of War" — Louis Newman is married to past Evolve guest and contributor Rabbi Amy Eilberg. Listen to Rabbi Amy Eilberg's Evolve interview, "Lovingkindness in a Time of War" — Louis Newman is married to previous Evolve guest and contributor, Rabby Amy EilbergBook Review | Noah Feldman Explains Us To Ourselves

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Rabbi Katie Mizrahi on being a Zionist and calling for a ceasefire, working for Palestinian rights and the anti-Israel upsurge on college campuses

    Rabbi Katie Mizrahi on being a Zionist and calling for a ceasefire, working for Palestinian rights and the anti-Israel upsurge on college campuses

    Rabbi Katie Mizrahi is a Zionist who was beyond devastated by Hamas’ mass killings, rape and kidnapping on October 7th. She reaffirms Israel’s right to defend itself. And she explains why she is opposed to how Israel has conducted its war and why she joined calls for a bilateral ceasefire. She expands on this line from her essay, “But here is the heart of the matter. I am not ready to become monstrous to defend my people from monsters.” We talk about the difficulty of interpreting events and the deluge of information and making informed decisions about where one stands. She shares how B’nai Havurah Denver Reconstructionist Congregation has responded these last seven months and how Zionists and anti-Zionist still inhabit the same community. Bryan and Rabbi Katie reminisce about what it was like to be in Israel in the 90s a time of hope and optimism. She shares her experience working against Israeli demolitions of Palestinian home and the trauma of witnessing the shooting of a Palestinian man. This episode is dedicated to Bryan’s late father, Robert.
    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Rabbi Katie Mizrahi.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Read Rabbi Mizrahi's Evolve essay, "Zionist Rabbi For Ceasefire"Sign up for Evolve's free newsletter to stay up to date on the latest essays, videos and podcastsExplore Evolve's essays about the Israel-Hamas warPublished in the Forward: "I run the Reconstructionist movement. We believe in Israel’s right to exist but reject litmus tests on Zionism" Read Reconstructing Judaism's public statements about the Israel-Hamas warResources for Shavuot from Reconstructing JudaismThe Art of Rebuke (a Sefaria source sheet)Sign up for Ritualwell's free Omer writing workshopsSign up for Ritualwell's in-person immersion, "Count On Telling Your Story"

    • 1 hr 17 min
    A Supersized Passover Episode: Rabbi Nathan Kamesar on the Israel-Hamas War; Rabbi Maurice Harris on his starring role in the new Netflix series Testament: The Story of Moses

    A Supersized Passover Episode: Rabbi Nathan Kamesar on the Israel-Hamas War; Rabbi Maurice Harris on his starring role in the new Netflix series Testament: The Story of Moses

    It’s a supersized Passover edition of Evolve! First, Rabbi Nathan Kamesar drops by to discuss his recent essay, "The Legitimacy of the State of Israel: Surviving in a Hostile Region." Bryan and Nathan reflect on their respective relationships with Israel and Israeli politics. Nathan opens up about what it’s like being a pulpit rabbi and spiritual leader during wartime and how he’s been approaching his job the last few months (5:00). Nathan and Bryan offer some of their personal opinions about the Israel-Hamas war and war in general. Nathan shares which of the many unknowns he would most like to know in order to make sense of things. Bryan asks Nathan about his response to the recent Atlantic Magazine cover story “The Golden Age of American Jews is Ending” (31:05). Nathan reflects on how he’s thinking about Passover this year, how he’s trying to center empathy and why it’s impossible to avoid politics at the seder table (42:30). Then, for a special bonus interview, Reconstructing Judaism’s own Rabbi Maurice Harris stops by for a conversation with Sam Wachs about all things Moses, including his starring role in the new Netflix Docudrama Testament: The Story of Moses (54:30).


    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guests: Rabbi Maurice Harris and Rabbi Nathan Kamesar.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Sign up for Evolve's free newsletter to stay up to date on the latest essays, videos and podcastsRead Rabbi Nathan Kamesar's Evolve Essay, "The Legitimacy of the State of Israel: Surviving in a Hostile Region"Also from Rabbi Nathan, "Building Community is Most Essential"From The Atlantic, "The Golden Age of American Jews is Ending"Buy Rabbi Maurice Harris' book, "Moses: A Stranger Among Us"Read Rabbi Maurice Harris' Evolve essaysRead Bryan's behind-the-scenes story about how Rabbi Maurice Harris was cast in a hit Netflix showWatch "Testament: The Story of Moses" on Netflix

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Rabbi Haviva Ner-David on Life and Death in War and Advocating for Peace

    Rabbi Haviva Ner-David on Life and Death in War and Advocating for Peace

    Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, an activist and author, shares what it is like to live in Israel – and be a parent - right now, with all the heartbreak, confusion and glimmers of hope. In this conversation, the author and spiritual director discusses the personal losses she suffered on October 7 and after (9:18) She also shares anxiety about living in Israel’s north and how and why she’s recommitted herself to interfaith peace activism (22:10) and her work with the Standing Together, the grassroots movement mobilizing Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace . With views on the conflict becoming ever more entrenched, Ner-David’s perspective is refreshingly iconoclastic. Whatever your perspective, left, right or center, she says something to challenge you.


    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Rabbi Haviva Ner-David.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Reconstructing Judaism joins call for ceasefire, release of all hostages and increase in humanitarian aide to GazaSign up for Evolve's newsletter to receive exclusive contentCelebrate 10 years of Rabbi Deborah Waxman's leadership Support Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish ConversationsRabbi Haviva's websiteRabbi Haviva's memoirs, novels, and moreRead Rabbi Haviva's February 2024 Evolve Essay, "The Other Side of the Rain: At a Cemetery in the Galilee"Read Rabbi Haviva's October 2023 Evolve essay, "Let Not Our Anger Blind Us: Jews and Palestinians in Israel"Read Rabbi Haviva's August 2023 Evolve essay, "Standing Together: A Redemptive Vision for Palestinian-Jewish Partnership"From JTA: "I’m an Israeli advocate for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. We’re still in this together."From Rabbi Haviva's Times Of Israel blog: "Minding Our Own Business, and that of the Country"From Rabbi Haviva's Times of Israel Blog: "This is a Story to Open Your Hearts. Are you Willing?"Next Evolve Web Conversation: Against Free Will

    • 54 min
    Rabbi Elyse Wechterman on the State of the Reconstructionist Rabbinate

    Rabbi Elyse Wechterman on the State of the Reconstructionist Rabbinate

    The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association was founded in 1974 to serve as the professional association of the small but growing number of rabbis affiliated with the Reconstructionist movements. These rabbis were trained with a very different approach than their peers in other movements. Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, the RRA’s CEO for roughly the past decade, discusses the transformation of the rabbinate and why it matters to everyone who cares about Jews and Judaism (5:00). She shares how disparate factors ranging from COVID to the emergence of the gig economy have shaped the rabbinate in unexpected ways (31:50). The discussion turns to how the events of October 7 and subsequent Israel-Hamas War have placed unprecedented strain on rabbis (44:45). There are some lighter moments as well. Wechterman quotes Billy Joel: “The good old days weren’t always good. Tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”


    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Rabbi Elyse Wechterman.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Sign up for Evolve's newsletter to receive exclusive contentSupport Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish ConversationsRead Rabbi Elyse Wechterman's Evolve essay, "Evolving Roles of Rabbis in History and TodayCheck out Evolve's new essay collection, "Ever Evolving Rabbinate" in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the RRA "Keeping The Faith" by Billy Joel

    • 58 min
    Bestselling author Jay Michaelson on his new book of fiction, covering the Israel-Hamas war, campus antisemitism, and more

    Bestselling author Jay Michaelson on his new book of fiction, covering the Israel-Hamas war, campus antisemitism, and more

    After 20 years of work, Jay Michaelson —scholar, rabbi, lawyer, activist, meditation teacher —has published his first book of fiction, “The Secret That Is Not a Secret: Ten Heretical Tales” (03:30). The linked short stories focus on a range of Jewish characters: Men and women, Orthodox and secular, straight and gay, Israeli and American. Yet each carries a secret desire that could be described as queer, and their stories explore the nature of heresy, queerness, kabbalah, mysticism and the sometimes-thin line between erotic desire and religious yearning. Michaelson would probably have preferred we discussed “The Secret That Is Not a Secret” for the full episode. Yet, we’re living in a post October 7 world and Michaelson, who’d stopped writing about Israel about a decade ago, felt compelled to jump back in. In the Forward and Rolling Stone, he’s written about the ethics of war, the charged nature of the term genocide, the debate about campus antisemitism and the fates of the two Ivy League presidents forced to resign after public uproar. We delve into some of these op-eds (31:40) and discuss how’s he taken care of himself during one of the most emotionally trying times of his life.


    Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/miriammarglesandthehadarensemb


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations: http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org


    Subscribe by Email at http://subscribebyemail.com/evolve.fireside.fm/rss


    Read these show notes on the web at https://evolve.fireside.fm/1




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Jay Michaelson.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Support Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish ConversationsSign up for Evolve's newsletter to receive exclusive contentOrder Jay Michaelson's new book, "The Secret That is Not a Secret"Jay Michaelson's writing in The ForwardJay Michaelson's writing in Rolling StoneTen Percent Happier (meditation and mindfulness)Jay Michaelson's Evolve Essay, "The Allure of the Antinomian … or How Jacob Frank Seduced Me"Jay Michaelson's website

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
44 Ratings

44 Ratings

XarifaBedford ,

Deeply Relevant

I just discovered this podcast through the Reconstructing Judaism website. I have been delighted with the content. Highly recommend.

Fetch a ball ,

Food for many thoughts.

If you are listening for the first time, I encourage you to start with the episode featuring Rabbi Michael Strassfeld.

What’sMyNameAgain! ,

FRESH!

Well I am so happy to have found this. Having been raised as a ‘secular Jew’, focussed mainly on Tikkun Olam, until now, I had not found many of my values and morals in Torah, just because I have not taken the time to study. I LOVE listening to an educated person make connections for me. THANK YOU for your show and for “EVOLVE”!

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