Episode 36: Hip Hop Meets Feminist Kabbalah w/Victoria Hanna

Episode 36: Hip Hop Meets Feminist Kabbalah w/Victoria Hanna

Every Letter, Every Vowel Is Its Own Universe.

-Victoria Hanna

Victoria Hanna is a “vocal artist” – not a singer. What does that mean? The Israeli artist has set herself the aim of creating art through the combined use of language, voice and music. And she has achieved that to a most astonishing degree. Victoria Hanna moves between ancient music and contemporary beats, between philosophical and religious texts. Her compositions are shaped by diverse vocal techniques, both sung and spoken. She explores the boundaries of the human voice, plays with letters, recites the Aleph-Bet.

Having grown up in a strictly orthodox tradition (her father an Egyptian rabbi and her mother of Persian descent), Victoria Hanna has liberated herself from the confines of that orthodoxy while at the same time preserving and continuing its cultural heritage, which she has translated into an idiosyncratic and thoroughly contemporary context. She has stuttered since childhood. This inborn speech disability was actually her greatest gift, and what led her to explore the boundaries of sound and diction. She embarked on an inner journey to explore “the mouth” as creator, which became the inspirational and emotional journey of her life.

Victoria Hanna studied acting and can be seen in various films (such as “Next To Her” by Asaf Korman) and learned a variety of song traditions. She has performed at festivals all over the world. Continue reading “Episode 36: Hip Hop Meets Feminist Kabbalah w/Victoria Hanna”

Episode 35: Poetry: The Anti-Obituary w/Mark Yakich

Episode 35: Poetry: The Anti-Obituary w/Mark Yakich

Dispel the notion that reading poetry is going to dramatically change your life. Your life is continually changing; most of the time you’re simply too busy to pay enough attention to it. Poems ask you to pay attention—that’s all.

-Mark Yakich

Mark Yakich is the Gregory F. Curtin, S.J. Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, where he is also editor of New Orleans Review. His most recent books are Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Spiritual Exercises (Penguin Poets, 2019). He is also co-director of Poetic Advantage, a seminar and workshop for business leaders and managers. Mark was a Fulbright Fellow in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Lisbon. Continue reading “Episode 35: Poetry: The Anti-Obituary w/Mark Yakich”

Episode 34: The Forgotten History of Cooperation and the Horrors of the Kishinev Pogrom w/Steven Zipperstein

Episode 34: The Forgotten History of Cooperation and the Horrors of the Kishinev Pogrom w/Steven Zipperstein

So shattering were the aftereffects of Kishinev, the rampage that broke out in late-Tsarist Russia in April 1903, that one historian remarked that it was “nothing less than a prototype for the Holocaust itself.”

In three days of violence, 49 Jews were killed and 600 raped or wounded, while more than 1,000 Jewish-owned houses and stores were ransacked and destroyed. Recounted in lurid detail by newspapers throughout the Western world, and covered sensationally by America’s Hearst press, the pre-Easter attacks seized the imagination of an international public, quickly becoming the prototype for what would become known as a “pogrom.”

It would also be the impetus for efforts as varied as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the NAACP. Using new evidence culled from Russia, Israel, and Europe, distinguished historian Steven Zipperstein’s wide-ranging book brings historical insight and clarity to a much-misunderstood event that would do so much to transform twentieth-century Jewish life and beyond. Continue reading “Episode 34: The Forgotten History of Cooperation and the Horrors of the Kishinev Pogrom w/Steven Zipperstein”

Episode 33: A Spirit of Generosity Revolution w/Rabbi Art Green

Episode 33: A Spirit of Generosity Revolution w/Rabbi Art Green

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion–its message becomes meaningless.”

― Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism Continue reading “Episode 33: A Spirit of Generosity Revolution w/Rabbi Art Green”

Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim

Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim

“Those who look for seashells will find seashells; those who open them will find pearls.”

— Al-Ghazali

Dr. Celene Ibrahim is an accomplished scholar, chaplain, and consultant. She has been published in numerous media outlets from The New York Times to BBC Persian. Her recently published book is One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets, an anthology of inter-religious voices on the transformative power of ecumenism in America. Her current book project examines female figures in the Qur’an (forthcoming in 2020 from Oxford University Press).  

Dr. Ibrahim is a public voice on issues of religious pluralism and civic engagement. She teaches religious studies and philosophy on the faculty of Groton School and served as the Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University. Previously, she held a joint faculty appointment as Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School where she co-directed the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE).

Dr. Ibrahim earned a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations and a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies and Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University. She earned an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and completed her bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern studies with highest honors from Princeton University. She is a graduate of the United World College of the American West (a boarding high school for a diverse and international student body). Continue reading “Episode 32: Islam, Feminism, and Interfaith Dialogue w/Dr. Celene Ibrahim”

Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber

Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson on the notion that a great person does not have to think consistently from one day to the next. This remark comes from the essay “Self-Reliance”.

Zev Farber writes, teaches and edits for a living. He holds an M.A. from Hebrew University (Jewish History), a Ph.D. from Emory University (Jewish Studies/Hebrew Bible), and ordination (yoreh yoreh) and advanced ordination (yadin yadin) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School. He currently holds a fellowship at Project TABS and writes/edits for their website, TheTorah.com. He is a founding member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), blogs actively at Morethodoxy, and answers questions for Jewish Values Online. He lives in Zikhron Yaakov with his wife, Channie, and their six children. Continue reading “Episode 31: A Godly Bible Filled with Errors? w/Zev Farber”

Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek

Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek

“Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, where we go matters less than what we notice.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, by Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch and by Newsweek as “a rabbi to watch.” He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation.

Before coming to Beacon Hebrew Alliance, he served as the Rabbi-in-Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York.

Rabbi Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a Masters in Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship.

Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children. Continue reading “Episode 30: No Bad Jews, Keeping It Real w/Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek”

Episode 29: Patience To Learn And Humility To Lead w/Dr. Erica Brown

Episode 29: Patience To Learn And Humility To Lead w/Dr. Erica Brown

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

— African Proverb

Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the George Washington University and the director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. She is the author of twelve books on the subjects of leadership, the Hebrew Bible and spirituality. Her forthcoming commentary is The Book of Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile.

She has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Tablet and The Jewish Review of Books and wrote a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week. She has blogged for Psychology Today, Newsweek & Washington Post’s “On Faith” and JTA. She tweets on one page of Talmud study a day at DrEricaBrown. Continue reading “Episode 29: Patience To Learn And Humility To Lead w/Dr. Erica Brown”

The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job

The connection between Netflix’s “When They See Us” and the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Job.

On a mid-August day of this year there will be Jews all around the world avoiding activities that bring them pleasure. It will be the commemoration of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av), a holiday that acts as the catch-all day for the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the past three millennia — it is the date of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto to name a few.

In order to create a solemn atmosphere, Jewish ritual mandates that ordinary, even necessary activities, be avoided. That means no eating food, drinking water, and observers of this day must even refrain from studying Torah. The only text that is permitted to be studied on this mournful day is the Book of Job. Continue reading “The Exonerated Five of the Central Park Jogger Case and the Book of Job”

Episode 28: The Messy and Beautiful Truth Behind Philanthropy w/Charlene Seidle

Episode 28: The Messy and Beautiful Truth Behind Philanthropy w/Charlene Seidle

“A pious Jew is not one That worries about their neighbor’s soul and their own stomach; rather, a pious Jew is one that worries about their own soul and their neighbor’s stomach.”

— Rabbi Yisrael Salanter

Charlene is the Leichtag Foundation’s Executive Vice President. She has played a key leadership role in the development and implementation of Leichtag Foundation’s strategic framework and oversees grantmaking. She has designed innovative and creative programs such as funder partnerships and consortia, the Jerusalem Model, the International Office for Jerusalem Partnerships, the Hive at Leichtag Commons, and others; and provides overall management and strategy development.

Charlene won the 2013 JJ Greenberg Memorial Award, an international prize given to one outstanding philanthropic professional under the age of 40 each year. Continue reading “Episode 28: The Messy and Beautiful Truth Behind Philanthropy w/Charlene Seidle”