Category: Judaism


Linda Weiser Friedman on Jewish Humor (Encore Presentation)

Yep, we’re still on summer break, but please enjoy a laugh or two and learn something about Jewish humor with Linda Weiser Friedman as she talks about her book “God Laughed,” co-written with her husband Hershey Friedman. In such serious times when our ability to joke has seemed to fade, this interview is a great reminder the role that humor can play in our spiritual and secular lives.

Stay tuned for fresh episodes.

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Colleen Haight on Jewish Peddlers in 19th Century America (Encore Presentation)

In 19th century America, Jews disproportionately filled an important role in the US economy as peddlers and merchants who brought supplies to settlers in the westward expansion. Prof. Colleen Haight of SJSU explains the logic behind this phenomenon and links it to the economics of religion and the role that religious distinctiveness played in solving reputational problems. She also addresses the matter of hostility towards Jews and how this factored in to their chosen profession. This is an encore presentation from the autumn of 2014.

We will return on July 24th with new episodes. In the meantime, search our archives!

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Elie Estrin on the History and Traditions of Chanukah

With Chanukah season upon us, we invite Rabbi Elie Estrin, director of the University of Washington’s Chabad, to explain the history, meaning, and traditions of the holiday. We cover recent archaeological discoveries in Israel, different ways Chanukah has been celebrated over time, and what it is like celebrating Jewish holidays in a predominately Christian nation. For those not familiar with Chanukah, this is a wonderful introduction and Rabbi Estrin also connects it to the importance of religious liberty in our contemporary world.

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Daniel Libenson on Present and Future Judaism

In a wonderful complement to last week’s episode, Daniel Libenson — creator of jUChicago and The Institute for the Next Jewish Future — discusses the religious challenges facing Judaism in contemporary America and what might need to happen in the future. We explore these issues through the lens of his work with Hillel and his other institutional creations, and how he is using “design thinking” to provide creative ways to engage secular Jews in their historical faith.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates about future episodes.

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Carmel Chiswick on the Economics of Being Jewish in America.

How does an economist discuss being a religious minority in America? Prof. Carmel Chiswick returns to the podcast to discuss her new book “Judaism in Transition.” Using the tools of economics — particularly the concepts of full price, time costs, and human capital — explains the challenges American Jews face in a Christian culture and how Judaism has changed over time to reflect responses to various costs and benefits. We also talk about some of the newer demographic challenges facing Jews, including intermarriage, later marriage, and empty nesters.

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Colleen Haight on Jewish Peddlers in 19th Century America

In 19th century America, Jews disproportionately filled an important role in the US economy as peddlers and merchants who brought supplies to settlers in the westward expansion. Prof. Colleen Haight of SJSU explains the logic behind this phenomenon and links it to the economics of religion and the role that religious distinctiveness played in solving reputational problems. She also addresses the matter of hostility towards Jews and how this factored in to their chosen profession.

Visit us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

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Philip Jenkins on Religion & World War I

As we solemnly observe the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, historian Philip Jenkins joins us to discuss the religious dimensions of “The Great & Holy War” (which is also the title of his new book). We survey the spiritual, apocalyptic, and even occult language and imagery that was used to understand the war, mobilize troops, and even guide it on occasion. Prof. Jenkins also lays out the consequences that this pivotal historical event had on the global spiritual landscape … consequences that we are still experiencing to this very day.

Join us on Twitter and/or Facebook for regular updates on guests and some interesting discussion.

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Linda Weiser Friedman on Jewish Humor

A Jewish statistician walks into a podcast … and hilarity and enlightenment ensues thanks to Linda Weiser Friedman, the co-author (along with Hershey Friedman) of “God Laughs: Sources of Jewish Humor.” We talk about why Jews are so funny, the types of humor Jews employ (including Holocaust humor), and how comedy can be found in sacred texts if one looks closely. We also discuss the boundaries of religio-ethnic humor and how religion can bring us closer to God.

Find some additional bits of humor from the Friedman’s book on our Facebook Fan Page.

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Aaron Saiger on Religion and Charter Schools

The rise of charter schools over the past quarter century has altered the way in which we think about the nexus of religion and state with respect to education. Prof. Aaron Saiger of Fordham University Law School documents changes in the American educational system and how religious communities are reacting to the charter school movement.

If you are a Tweeter, tell your followers about this free educational resource!

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Jeff Levin on Judaism and Health

Judaism is known to be good for the soul, but can it help with what else ails you? Dr. Jeff Levin, an epidemiologist at Baylor University, discusses the connection between Judaism and health. We discuss some of the historical links between the Jewish faith and health, the role of rabbis in sorting out bioethics, the importance of pastoral care to the sick, as well as the contemporary Jewish healing movement.

Note: Next week’s episode will air on Monday, January 6.

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