TanakhCast: The Taxonomy of Endings Edition!

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hqdefaultIn this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 32–34.  We look at how television series wrap things up and consider whether Moshe’s departure from the people proves to be a fitting end to the Torah.

And here’s the piece by Jason Mittell about The Wire and Lost.

And here are the endings for Newhart, St. Elsewhere, Cheers and Six Feet Under.

TanakhCast: The I’ma Get Medieval on Your Ass Edition!

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movie-jerks-Marsellus-WallaceIn this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 28-31. We consider the blessing and the curse in light of choice architecture and wonder what might have happened if Moshe did a little more nudging instead of threatening people’s tushies with harsh medieval treatments. 

The paper by Thaler, Sunstein and Balz about “choice architecture” is here and the Nudge blog is here.

Next Judaism at its Best: The Third Temple Indiegogo Campaign

In Chapter 1 of End Of The Jews, I wrote about the Temple Institute and their drive to rebuild the Temple of Solomon on Mount Moriah.  As part of their state of constant vigilance, Institute artisans have prepared all the vestments, implements and ritual objects so when the time comes, members of the organization will be ready to assume all the duties, responsibilities and functions of that institution – including animal sacrifice.   Though calling back to a Judaism that predates the common era, the folks at the Temple Institute also employ 21st century tools, namely the internet and the power of social media.

In other words, even the Temple Institute folks are NEXT JEWS!

And like many a thoughtful Next Jew in need of financial support for their project (see also Jewcer), the folks over at the Temple Institute have launched an Indiegogo campaign.

This piece in the Forward brought a smile to my face almost as wide as the old man’s at the end of the YouTube clip below.

You can read the details of the campaign here.

My favourite: If you donate $1,800, you get an autographed headshot of the Kohein Gadol!

Okay, that was a joke.  But for $5,000 you can get a VIP tour of the Temple Mount and the Temple Institute led by the Institute’s director!

I wonder what will happen if they reach their modest goal.  Will they have to build the Third Temple within a set period of time or merely break ground or… ?

And I also wonder: Was Kickstarter not mehadrin enough for this campaign?  …Because going with Indiegogo makes a definite statement about taste and affiliation.

What remains now is the ol’ “wait and see” until September 25, Rosh HaShanah 5775 which, if the campaign launches, could be a really interesting year.

TanakhCast: The Redeem My Blood Edition!

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reddawn-avenge-meIn this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 16-19.  We explore the novel legal construct of “home free” for accidental murderers, and how a sanctuary system once set up for unintentional killers has been employed to shelter asylum seekers from persecution.  And, last, we consider the practicality of private revenge and the rights of the blood-redeemer in the present day. 

TanakhCast: The Moral Hazard Edition!

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istock_000003834478mediumIn this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 12-15.  We look at the Shemitta or “Release” and consider the arguments for and against debt forgiveness before concluding that besides being the right thing to do, it might stimulate economic growth and make our lives better!

And if you’re curious about the millennium debt forgiveness movement, click here.

Consider this counterfactual

The following was crossposted at The Jewish Futures Blog as part of a thought experiment on the Jewish future.  Enjoy!

Consider this counterfactual.

In 1994, after having coffee with me, Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt decided, rather than funding flashy 10 day junkets to Israel, to create Areivut insteador as it came to be known: “The Pledge”.

“The Pledge” was simple.  In conjunction with the Israeli government, private philanthropists, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Jewish Federations across North America, Areivut would provide every Jewish child in North America with a free Jewish education from junior kindergarden to Grade 8.

The launch announcement, made on Erev-Erev Shavuot, 5760, (or June 8, 2000), was met with typical Jewish verve.  In other words, many opinions were expressed.

Jewish parents committed to public education responded to the Pledge with a polite “no thank you”, but the legion of working and middle class Jewish parents who groaned under the rising costs of Jewish education (costs which far outstripped the rate of inflation) fervently signed up to become Areivim over the intervening summer months.  The surge in signups at www.kolisraelareiv.im threatened to bottleneck internet traffic anywhere east of the Mississippi.

Jewish day schools which saw numbers dwindle and communities which faced the loss of their sole educational institution were suddenly overwhelmed by demand.

Universities and teachers’ colleges in major metropolitan areas also rose to the challenge of this new demand, expanding their programs to train a new cohort of Jewish educators.

In the first five years of the Areivut, over 55% of Jewish children were enrolled in five-day-a-week programs across North America.  In Year Ten, the percentage rose to 70%.

In the meanwhile, day schools themselves were transformed.  Denominational education was still attractive to many families, but community institutions, representing the broadest spectrum of Jewish experience, began to command more attention.  Banding together was a move that was once driven by economics, but in this new age, creating “open tents” was inspired by the Pledge’s message of shared responsibility and mutual obligation.

And these community spaces evolved to serve different sectors of the community depending on the time of day, week or year.  In the early morning, as parents headed off to work, the day school provided day care.  During the school day, trained Jewish educators taught and learned with the next generation of kids.  And in the evening, a different cohort of educators learned with adults.  On the weekends, the space was open for people to congregate, pray and learn.  And, in the summer, the space housed a variety of Jewish day camps.

And though the financial debacles of 2008 could have easily resulted in the shuttering of many a Jewish school, Areivut had set aside funding to keep the program running at least until 2048, when they projected to have educated not only a (nearly) complete generation of Jewish children, but also theirchildren and grandchildren.

And thus, the words from Shir HaShirim Rabbah were fulfilled.  For when God said to Israel: “Bring Me good guarantors and I shall give you the Torah,” they said: “Indeed, our children will be our guarantors.”  And so, God said: “Your children are good guarantors. For their sake I give the Torah to you.”

TanakhCast: The Moral Panic Edition!

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panic-disorder-971In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 4-7.  We explore the favourite sport of the elder generation – worrying about the future and the dissolute behaviour of young folk who indulge in the carnal rites of Ba’al and consider whether society is really in peril when those same youngsters eventually become the elders.

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