#9 Carmel Chiswick on the Economics of Being Jewish in America
Date: July 22nd, 2018

Prof. Carmel Chiswick (George Washington University) is a scholar’s scholar.  Dr. Chiswick is an economist to be reckoned with when it comes to what we usually think about when we talk economics (e.g., labor policy), but she also has the intellectual breadth to be able to address topics outside of the narrow confines of academically-defined fields.   Add to this that Carmel has an incredible ability to teach people through stories, and often overlooked skill in our academic profession.  This podcast dealt with her book Judaism in Transition, which is replete with her own observations of growing up Jewish and raising a Jewish family in Illinois.  The stories are personal, which paints a vivid picture for our listeners, but are also connected to broader themes.  Scholars will often criticize others for the use of anecdotes, but such stories can be very helpful to illustrate causality and bring religion to life.  It was during this interview that I had another “a ha!” moment when Carmel mentioned that not only were younger people not going to church as they chose to marry later, but the “empty nester” parents of these religious “nones” also were not going to church because they didn’t have grandchildren to tend to.  All those ads with senior citizens riding cross country on motorcycles means they weren’t in the synagogue or church on the weekend, an interesting demographic trend that clergy of all stripes will have to confront in the decades to come.

One of my biggest regrets for ending this show now is that I didn’t have the opportunity to interview a number of other individuals about their experience growing up in America from different faith traditions.  I had pursued one potential interview on being Muslim in America, but it never came to fruition.

Original Podcast Link.


Rajdeep Singh on American Sikhs and Religious Liberty.

Shachar Pinsker on Jewish Coffee House Culture.

Ellie Estrin on the History and Traditions of Chanukkah.

Alison Pond on Being a Mormon Missionary.

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