48 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 • 32 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.

    America's First Bat Mitzvah

    America's First Bat Mitzvah

    The first American bat mitzvah took place on March 18, 1922. As its 100th anniversary nears, we’ve got something of a departure for our podcast. We’re running an episode that we co-sponsored of Adventures in Jewish Studies, a podcast of the Association for Jewish Studies. In it, guest scholars Rabbi Carole Balin, Melissa R. Klapper, and Rabbi Deborah Waxman consider the history of the bat mitzvah and its evolution over time. They also explore how the bat mitzvah helped pave the way for greater inclusion of women in public Jewish ritual and practice and helped shape American Jewish life.


    Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversions: 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/20




    This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
    Special Guest: Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D..
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    ‎Adventures in Jewish Studies Podcast from the Association for Jewish StudiesJudith Kaplan celebrates first American Bat Mitzvah ceremony | Jewish Women's ArchiveSally Gottesman | Jewish Women's ArchiveA bat mitzvah girl debuts a new way for blind Jews to participate in an ancient tradition - The Washington PostMy Beautiful, Kaleidoscopic Jewish Life (Gina Drangel)This Teen Had a Gender-Neutral 'B Mitzvah' – KvellerMelissa Klapper, Ph.D. (Rowan University)Carole B. Balin (Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion)Association for Jewish Studies

    • 33 min
    Environmental Justice and Race

    Environmental Justice and Race

    We talk with Rabbi Rebecca Richman of Philadelphia’s Germantown Jewish Centre about environmental justice and the legacy of environmental racism, particularly focusing on her adopted hometown of Philadelpha, whose refinery – which recently made national headlines with a massive conflagration – has harmed Black and brown residents' health for decades. She addresses how the Torah can help us conceive of environmental justice and identify environmental racism. And in an emotional segment, we discuss parenthood in a world that seems spinning out of control. “As a parent...if I don’t take care of this place today, then there is no life for my children. And, if I don’t teach my children to take care of this place, then there will be no capacity for them to have children.”


    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 Conversions: 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: Bec Richman.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Evolve - Environmental Racism: A New Year, An Ancient Call for BreathPollution Is Killing Black Americans. This Community Fought Back. - The New York TimesHow Redlining Segregated Philadelphia – Next CityDr Robert Bullard – Father of Enviromental JusticeProf. Laura Goldin | Brandeis UniversityDayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action

    • 43 min
    Liberating Your Passover Seder

    Liberating Your Passover Seder

    At 87, Rabbi Arthur Waskow still proudly calls himself a radical. His most revolutionary act may have taken place 52 years ago, when he wrote, published and organized the original Freedom Seder. Celebrated, debated and criticized, the Freedom Seder upended the contemporary seder by incorporating contemporary, non-Jewish liberation struggles. We talk about the origins of the Freedom Seder and what it means today. We explore Waskow’s life of activism, including his personal interactions with Rev. Martin Luther King Junior. And Waskow shares what keeps him turning out books and, at increasing risk to himself, taking to the streets and facing arrest. He also offers some practical advice on how to make a Zoom seder more compelling and how to take first steps as an activist. And we ask the burning question (no pun intended): is civilization as we know it headed for collapse?


    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 Conversions: 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 Arthur Waskow.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Liberating the Future: Passover and Beyond (Evolve)The Plagues of Exodus and Today: Facing Our Plagues in an Earth-Healing Activist Passover (Evolve)Original 1969 Freedom Seder | The Shalom CenterDancing in God's Earthquake: The Coming Transformation of Religion (Amazon)Liberating Your Passover Seder - Beta 2021 EditionIn Freedom Seder, Jews And African-Americans Built A Tradition Together (NPR's Code Switch podcast)At 87, activist rabbi Arthur Waskow is still protesting - and still getting arrested (JTA story)A Controversial and Beloved Figure Celebrates 80 (Jewish Exponent, by Bryan Schwartzman)Dick Gregory, 84, Dies; Found Humor in the Civil Rights Struggle (New York Times)Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94 (New York Times)

    • 56 min
    Human Composting: Good for the Environment, But Is It Kosher?

    Human Composting: Good for the Environment, But Is It Kosher?

    Natural Organic Reduction — or, more colloquially, human composting — is not only legal in Washington State, but also happening, right now. People are choosing to have their remains rapidly converted into soil. How will Jewish leaders and communities respond to a practice that, on some level, is challenging to Jewish law, to centuries of burial practices, and, maybe, to people’s sensibilities?


    In this live episode, recorded as part of the 2021 Big Bold Jewish Climate Festival, we speak with Rabbi Seth Goldstein and Rabbi Adina Lewittes, two religious leaders who’ve thought deeply about human composting, the green burial movement, and what each means for Jewish communities. We discuss how the adoption of the practice may make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions and how the practice realizes important Jewish values. We get into the details of human composting works and bust some myths about death, burial, and what’s required under Jewish law.


    Note: Since we include an audience Q & A, moderated by our executive producer, Rabbi Jacob Staub, this episode is substantially longer than our typical show.


    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 Conversions: 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 Adina Lewittes and Rabbi Seth Goldstein.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Human Composting: A Reconstructionist Rabbi’s View (Evolve essay) — Recently legalized in Washington state, human composting is a new alternative to burial and cremation. How do Reconstructionists balance tradition with innovation in this case?Recompose — Ecological Death Care — Website for alternative burial program discussed in this episodeRecompose, the first human-composting funeral home in the U.S., is now open for business | The Seattle TimesBiodegradable burial pod turns your body into a tree - CNNAmerica's First Composting Funeral Home Is Finally Open | GizmodoAlternative Kevurah Methods (PDF) - Rabbinical Assembly — Conservative movement responsum by Rabbi Jeremy KalmanofskyConcurring Opinion on "Alternative Kevurah Methods" (PDF) - Rabbinical Assembly — First concurrence to Kalmanofsky responsumConcurrence to Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky’s Paper on Alternative Modes of Burial (PDF) — Second concurrence to Kalmanofsky responsum - Rabbi Elliot Dorff

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Silver and Gold: Reparations and Judaism

    Silver and Gold: Reparations and Judaism

    Since Ta-Nehisi Coates published his influential Atlantic essay “The Case for Reparations” in 2014, a number of thinkers have made explicitly Jewish arguments for (and against) reparations for American slavery. Discussions have addressed concerns ranging from West German reparations to Israel, to Talmudic arguments, to the Jewish obligation to pursue justice. Educator and activist Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein argues in an article on Evolve that the case for reparations is presented clearly in the Torah itself. In this episode, Bernstein explores this claim, and what he thinks it means for present-day policies and politics. “I would love to reach a point where it is totally incoherent to be a politically-conscious Jew who cares about Torah at all, who isn’t in favor of reparations because it is the core political principle of our own religious identity.”


    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 Conversions: 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 Aryeh Bernstein.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Live Podcast with Evolve! “Human Composting: Good for the Environment, But Is It Kosher?” — This event is a live podcast recording of Evolve, happening in the context of The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest. We'll be discussing Jewish burial practices and their relationship to current environmental concerns. The event will take place on Friday, January 29 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern.The Torah Case for Reparations: A Jewish View (Evolve Essay) — The biblical narrative of the Exodus from slavery understands the reparations taken by the Israelites to be an essential part of the redemption from servitude.The Torah Case for Reparations. (Longer Medium post)The Rod and the Whip: Accountability for Law Enforcement (YouTube) — Activist and Torah scholar, Aryeh Bernstein, explores what the Torah has to say about accountability for law enforcement, how the existing police contract is antithetical to it, and why it's so vital according to our tradition that we get this right.The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic — Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy - Ta-Nehisi Coates (Amazon link) — “We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time.H.R. 40: Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (2019; 116th Congress H.R. 40) - GovTrack.us — This bill establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans. The commission shall examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. Among other requirements, the commission shall identify (1) the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, (2) forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and (3) lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and society.Jon Burge | The Ma

    • 43 min
    Jews and Money: A Frank Conversation 

    Jews and Money: A Frank Conversation 

    Endowments and donor-advised funds: They may sound like boring financial terms, but they're actually part of a fascinating history of philanthropy in the Jewish community. They reflect the ways in which individuals and organizations use financial resources to impact the Jewish community and democratic society writ large.  For half a decade, Lila Corwin Berman has been raising eyebrows, and sparking conversation, with her writings about wealth and charitable giving, Jewish communities, and democracy. In this interview with Berman, we explore the origins of both endowments and donor-advised funds, and examine how they have shaped communal decision-making.  


    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 Conversions: 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: Lila Corwin Berman.
    Support Evolve
    Links:
    Philanthropy in a Time of Crisis—and Why History Matters (Evolve essay) — How might we re-envision philanthropy so it is less a handmaiden to capitalism and more an agent of the broad citizenry of democracy?The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution (Amazon link)How Norman Sugarman Became $50B Godfather of Charitable Funds – The Forward — If you asked most people why the year 1969 was important in American life, few would mention that year’s federal Tax Reform Act. But Norman Sugarman’s fingerprints on that document may have had as much of a lasting effect on this country’s history as Neil Armstrong’s feet on the moon.Jewish philanthropies acted as if their work was above politics. Until now. - The Washington PostLila Corwin Berman (Temple University faculty page)

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
32 Ratings

32 Ratings

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”!

Barry76Pods ,

Great discussions

I love these in-depth discussions about pressing issues. First two episodes have been great!

mul·ti·tu·di·nous ,

enlightening and down-to-earth digestible

Thank you for this excellent podcast. It made me think differently about Jewish community in a way that was enlightening and down-to-earth digestible. Looking foeward to more.

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