Episode 8: Travel and Global Jewish Communities w/Rabbi Elie Lehmann

Episode 8: Travel and Global Jewish Communities w/Rabbi Elie Lehmann

““There are two existential postures that I try to live my life inside of… The first one is: compassionate curiosity. That’s the ability to experience people and places with compassion on the one hand, a loving eye toward who they are and what they do; and a certain sense of curiosity that are questions bubbling up. And always wanting to learn more, and be more in contact with, and ask more, and integrate into. Not in a way of challenging or putting down, but through a lens of compassion and an open heart.””

— Rabbi Elie Lehmann

Rabbi Elie Lehmann is the Campus Rabbi at Boston University Hillel. He has rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Boston. He loves supporting young adults find innovative and meaningful ways to feel confident in their Jewish identity, knowledge, and practice. He has worked with NGOs in several countries over the past decade. As Director of the Kulanu Global Teaching Fellowship, Elie has worked with several Jewish communities in Africa and Latin America. Elie is an alumnus of Mechon Hadar, Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary. In his spare time Elie enjoys cooking, cycling around new neighborhoods, and playing drums. He lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife Anya Manning and their son.

We began our conversation with a bit of myth-busting. When some imagine communities in Africa it is easy to envision a dusty village by the side of the road. Rabbi Elie talked about the diversity in the many global Jewish communities. Some are, indeed, subsistence farmers while others work in the medical field and are very much connected to the broader world through more contemporary avenues.

We also discussed how Jewish communal spaces can be more inviting, warm, and welcoming to not only the breadth of American Jews but also to visitors from the global Jewish communities.

For a fabulous post that shatters stereotypes about what Jews look like, please check out this post by Pop Chasid, here.

 “You don’t have to be white to be Jewish. For real.” A photo by Pop Chassid. (A photo of a young black boy smiling while eating a sandwich.)

“You don’t have to be white to be Jewish. For real.” A photo by Pop Chassid. (A photo of a young black boy smiling while eating a sandwich.)

Rabbi Elie also shared about the amazing and vibrant music that is coming out of the various Jewish communities around the globe.

For one such example be sure to check out the music by the Uganda Abayudaya Jewish Community and the album that they put together in partnership with Rabbi Elie’s mentor Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Traditional World Music.

Lastly, we concluded our conversation with some resources to follow up with to continue the learning:

For a book recommended by Rabbi Elie Lehmann , check out:

  • “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures” by Anne Fadiman.


“When was the first time that you met someone of the same faith/culture that had a radically different family background than you? What was that experience like?

Comment Below!”

Thanks again and looking forward to being on this journey with you!

 “Slowly, slowly. You will fill the jar.” - A Swahili Saying. “Slowly, slowly. You will fill the jar.” – A Swahili Saying.


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