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18Forty Podcast

  • Adam and Mia Raskin: Can Families Live with Denominational Differences? [Denominations 5/5]

    18 GIU 2024 · This series is sponsored by Joel and Lynn Mael in memory of Estelle and Nysen Mael. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rabbi Adam J. Raskin—a  Conservative rabbi in Maryland—and Mia Raskin, his Orthodox daughter.  In discussing the ideological and sociological realities of Jewish denominations, we often lose sight of their real-world manifestation in Jewish life. By hearing how a real family navigates denominational differences, we might, in fact, learn a lesson or two about Jewish unity. In this episode we discuss: - What does a Conservative rabbi think about the practice of his less observant congregants?  - How did Mia deal with religious observance as a Division I basketball player? - How do the apparent barriers between Jewish groups play out when we interact in the world? Tune in to hear a conversation about how we might think more deeply than the labels of “secular,” “frum,” “baal teshuva,” and the like. Interview begins at 6:58. Rabbi Adam J. Raskin is the rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Maryland. Adam is a member of the Executive Council of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative Rabbis, and is a founder of the Potomac-Area Interfaith Communities.  Mia Raskin is a program director and Marketing Analyst for Athletes for Israel, a graduate of Binghamton University, where she played college basketball while References: by Abraham Joshua Heschel by Abraham Joshua Heschel
    Ascoltato 57 min. 27 sec.
  • FROM THE VAULT: Samuel G. Freedman: Can Jew vs. Jew Ever Become Jew with Jew?

    9 GIU 2024 · While we return to Jewish Denominations next week, enjoy this ever-necessary 2020 conversation about Jewish infighting, division, and unity—pulled from the 18Forty vault.  In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with Professor of Journalism at Columbia and author, Samuel G. Freedman, to talk about dissent not as a cause of ugliness and divide, but of beauty and unity. Some would say that disagreement isn’t a bug of the Jewish community, but a feature. We have a rich history of debate in the Talmud and haven’t been able to shake this dubious quality even in the modern day United States. The internet has only exaggerated this, and while one can argue for the benefits of dissent, the fact that Jews seem embroiled in a perpetual state of debate remains. - Is debate a healthy state of mind for our community? - Should we be looking to avoid debate or embrace it? - Does dissent cause only divide or can it be used as a means of understanding the other members of our community? Tune in to hear Samuel discuss the roles that individual Jews play in the larger debate that is the Jewish community.
    Ascoltato 45 min. 38 sec.
  • Marc B. Shapiro: Where Does Orthodox Judaism Come From? [Denominations 4/5]

    4 GIU 2024 · This series is sponsored by Joel and Lynn Mael in memory of Estelle and Nysen Mael. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to author and historian Dr. Marc B. Shapiro about the blurry borders that distinguish Reform, Conservative, yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, and the many other Jewish sects from one another. We take today’s Jewish denominational and cultural differences for granted, but they were not inevitable. Moments in history formed our sects, and Dr. Shapiro helps us unpack them. In this episode we discuss: - How did the Conservative movement diverge from Orthodoxy? - Where did the “yeshiva world” come from? - How have Jews historically maintained friendship despite denominational divisions? Tune in to hear a conversation about Jews’ tangled relationship between ideology and lived experience.  Interview begins at 13:36 Dr. Marc B. Shapiro holds the Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton. Marc received his PhD from Harvard, and he is the author of numerous books, articles, and reviews, including Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy, The Limits of Orthodox Theology, and Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History.  References: by Marc B. Shapiro by Marc B. Shapiro by Marc B. Shapiro on The Seforim Blog edited by Menachem Butler and Abraham Lieberman by Rav Hutner by Marc B. Shapiro by Jeffrey S. Gurock with David Bashevkin by David Weiss Halivni
    Ascoltato 1 h 30 min. 39 sec.
  • Jack Wertheimer: A New American Judaism? The Sociology of Jewish Practice [Denominations 3/5]

    28 MAG 2024 · This series is sponsored by Joel and Lynn Mael in memory of Estelle and Nysen Mael. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish History at JTS, about the radical transformations of American Jewish practice over the last century. We can’t understand the Jewish People without a sobered look at what happens in our synagogues, homes, and communities. We can talk about a movement’s ideological ideals, but amid those discussions we cannot ignore the on-the-ground realities of a community’s practice. In this episode we discuss: - How does a Jewish movement’s "lived religion" differ from its stated ideals? - What is the cost of radical inclusivity? - What misconceptions do Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews have about each other? Tune in to hear a conversation about what Judaism means for us in our current time.  Interview begins at 28:28. Dr.  Jack Wertheimer is a leading thinker and professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is the former provost of JTS, and was the founding director of the Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism. Jack has written and edited numerous books and articles on the subjects of modern Jewish history, education, and life. He won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life in 1994 for A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America.  References: “” by Aaron Lopiansky “” by Cole S. Aronson by Jack Wertheimer by Jack Wertheimer by Samuel C. Heilman by Dana Kaplan “” by David Bashevkin by Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler The 18Forty Podcast: “” “” by Omek Hadavar
    Ascoltato 1 h 40 min. 22 sec.
  • Ammiel Hirsch: 'What Did We Do Wrong?' Peoplehood and the Reform Movement [Denominations 2/5]

    21 MAG 2024 · This series is sponsored by Joel and Lynn Mael in memory of Estelle and Nysen Mael. In of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and a leader of the Reform Movement, about the way Jewish Peoplehood is understood among the non-Orthodox majority of American Jews. Rabbi Hirsch is known in the Reform Movement and beyond for his decades-long staunch commitment to Jewish Peoplehood. We recorded this interview before Oct. 7, and especially considering Rabbi Hirsch’s leadership on issues related to Zionism, a follow-up conversation with him will follow shortly. In this episode we discuss: - Where should the State of Israel fit into our priorities as a people?  - How has Reform Judaism course-corrected its views on Jewish Peoplehood over time? - How can we be a unified people when we can’t always agree on who is a Jew? Tune in to hear a conversation about how we might improve the state of interdenominational relations. Interview begins at 19:50. Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch is a leader of the Reform Movement. He is the senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and former executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union for Progressive Judaism, North America. He wrote two books: The Lilac Tree: A Rabbi's Reflections on Love, Courage, and History (2023) and One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them (2003), which he co-authored with Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman. References: by Ammiel Hirsch and Yaakov Yosef Reinman by Avner Gold 18Forty Podcast: “” “” by Armin Rosen “” by Armin Rosen by Ammiel Hirsch by Joseph Telushkin “” by Gil Student “” by Omek Hadavar
    Ascoltato 1 h 22 min. 32 sec.
  • Zev Eleff: Is This the End of American Judaism? [Denominations 1/5]

    14 MAG 2024 · This series is sponsored by Joel and Lynn Mael in memory of Estelle and Nysen Mael. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we begin our Denominations series by talking to Zev Eleff—historian, author, and the president of Gratz College—about the development of the denominations of Judaism we have in America today.  We’ve been occupied for months with defending our right to be Jews in America, so perhaps this is the right time to return to considering the purpose of the Jewish lives we want to live. In this episode we discuss: - How did America’s Jewish “denominations”—better termed “movements”—as we know them come to be? - What have the different Jewish movements each contributed to American Jewish life? - How can we get back to not just fighting antisemitism, but uncovering the meaning of our Judaism? Tune in to hear a conversation about how previous generations of American Jews have handled the issues that, to one degree or another, threatened to divide us.  Interview begins at 49:36. Rabbi Dr. Zev Eleff is the president of Gratz College. Zev is the author and editor of nine books and more than 50 scholarly articles in the fields of Jewish Studies and American Religion, including Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History, Dyed in Crimson: Football, Faith, and Remaking Harvard's America, and Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life. Zev’s research focuses on American Jewish history, sports, and Modern Orthodox history. References: “” by David Bashevkin by Zev Eleff by Michael Cohen by Jonathan D. Sarna by Hasia R. Diner by Samuel G. Freedman by Herman Wouk by Abraham J. Karp 18Forty Podcast: “,to%20preserve%20and%20transmit%20meaning.”
    Ascoltato 2 h 7 min. 54 sec.
  • Rachel Goldberg-Polin: A Hostage’s Mother Fighting for His Freedom [Divergence 5/5]

    20 APR 2024 · Our Intergenerational Divergence series is sponsored by our friends Sarala and Danny Turkel. In this special episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Rachel Goldberg-Polin—whose son, Hersh, was kidnapped by Hamas and is still held hostage in Gaza—about heading into Passover with our loved ones still captive. Normally, Intergenerational Divergence feels like something of a choice. But now, Jewish families have been split apart by force. In this episode we discuss: - How do we foster a continued connection to the members of our family who are missing? - What difficult thoughts and questions will we bring to the Seder table this year? - What does it mean to express hope via the Pesach Seder amid these bitter times?  We hope wholeheartedly that this conversation about missing our children at the time of Passover will be made irrelevant and the hostages will soon return home.  Interview begins at 7:17. References: “” by Rachel Goldberg-Polin “” by Rachel Goldberg-Polin “” by Yosef Zvi Rimon
    Ascoltato 51 min. 11 sec.
  • A Haredi Mother Sending Her Children To Serve [Divergence 4/5]

    16 APR 2024 · Our Intergenerational Divergence series is sponsored by our friends Sarala and Danny Turkel. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to a Haredi mother named Dina about her two children who serve in the IDF, one of whom was critically wounded in the current war.  Oct. 7 accelerated the already-complicated conversation about Haredi service in the army. Here, Dina shares with us her first-hand experience as a mother of chayalim. In this episode we discuss: - What is it like being in the Haredi minority of IDF parents—and what is it like being one of the comparatively few IDF parents in the Haredi community?  - What is the experience of religiously raised soldiers remaining observant in the army? - What is it like for a mother to send her son into battle? Tune in to hear a conversation about how we might,, be machmir about how we relate to others.   Interview begins at 7:16. References: “” by Sara Bonchek Book Journeys are already back—and we're making them better than ever. We're partnering with Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers, to ship the books directly to you for an exclusive low price. Until April 24, all the books can be purchased and delivered to your home for $20 per book, or $60 for all three! Get your books and sign up 
    Ascoltato 1 h 8 min. 7 sec.
  • Finding a Home for Haredi IDF Soldiers [Divergence 3/5]

    9 APR 2024 · Our Intergenerational Divergence series is sponsored by our friends Sarala and Danny Turkel. This episode is sponsored by the incredible organization, a non-profit organization serving lone soldiers from Haredi and Hasidic homes who are serving in the IDF.  In of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to four Haredi soldiers who served in the IDF about breaking from family and communal expectations by enlisting, and the subsequent Intergenerational implications.  We also speak with Yael Ruzievich of the “adoptive family” of lone soldier David Mittelman, who was killed on Oct. 7. Hashem yikkom damo. In this episode we discuss: - How do soldiers from the Haredi world relate to their parents after joining the IDF? - What does the “adoptive family” of a Haredi lone soldier look like?  - How can we do more for those who make immense sacrifices to defend the Jewish People? Tune in to hear a conversation about how to handle divisive debates—such as Haredim enlisting for Israeli military service—as a unified Jewish family.  First soldier interview begins at 16:47. Second soldier interview begins at 26:06. Interview with Yael Ruzievich begins at 50:46. Third soldier interview begins at 1:32:01. Fourth soldier interview begins at 1:40:45. Haredi soldiers are in a difficult place, often struggling with a lack of social and familial support, due to their community’s stance on army service. The organization Osey Chail fills this gap, supporting soldiers from Haredi backgrounds with kosher food, foster families, apartments, and unity events, among other programs. We’re honored to speak to Haredi soldiers who were part of Osey Chail, as well as families that adopted them. References:,_by_Avrohom_Davis,_1981&lang=bi&lookup=Shomer%20Yisrael&with=Lexicon&lang2=en by Idan Amedi Pesach is approaching—and has what you need. New customers can use the coupon code 18Forty to get $18 off of orders of $139 or more. (Keep an eye out for their one-of-a-kind
    Ascoltato 2 h 16 min. 28 sec.
  • Haskel and Josh Lookstein: Finding Your Path in a Rabbinic Dynasty [Divergence 2/5]

    2 APR 2024 · Our Intergenerational Divergence series is sponsored by our friends Sarala and Danny Turkel. A pre-Pesach message from our partners at You can use the coupon code PESACH18 for $18 off all orders of $250  or more, or use the coupon code PESACH36 for $36 off all orders of $350 or more.. In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we sit down with an intergenerational rabbinic pair: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and his son, Rabbi Joshua Lookstein. Following in the footsteps of a successful parent can involve a crushing degree of pressure. In the Jewish world, perhaps the quintessential case of this is the challenge of being the scion of a prominent rabbinic family (what some might call a “dynasty”). In this episode we discuss: - How did family, friends, and congregants react to Joshua leaving the family pulpit?  - How can children find agency amid family expectations? - How do leaders of Jewish institutions manage the most foundational Jewish institution: the family?  Tune in to hear a conversation about how we can grapple wisely with professional divergence across generations. Interview begins at 12:53. Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein is the Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan, where he served most of his entire rabbinic career. He was also the principal of the Ramaz School from 1966 through 2015. R. Lookstein has been highly involved in leadership in the Jewish community for decades. He serves as the Joseph H. Lookstein Professor of Homiletics at Yeshiva University, where he has taught since 1979. He also serves as a Vice President of the Bet Din of America.  Rabbi Joshua Lookstein is the Associate Head of School at the Ramaz School. Rabbi Lookstein previously served as the Head of School at Westchester Day School and a Major Gifts Officer at UJA-Federation of New York, and as Executive Director of the S. Daniel Abraham Foundation. Rabbi Lookstein is responsible for ensuring the values of the school are sustained throughout a student’s education. References: “” by Adam S. Ferziger by Matthew Walker This episode is sponsored in honor of Robert and Sandy April, loyal congregants and students of Rabbi Lookstein for many years. May they continue to learn from Rabbi Lookstein's lessons and actions for many years to come.
    Ascoltato 1 h 17 min. 8 sec.
  • Supporters Club

    Sara Susswein Tesler: What Should We Teach?

    10 AGO 2020 · In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, David sits down with Sara Susswein Tesler, an educator from SAR Academy in Riverdale, to talk about her experiences incorporating Biblical criticism into the Orthodox Day School environment. For more, visit Biblical criticism has long been an elephant in the room of Orthodox institutions, even among Sara’s classmates while doing a master’s in Bible studies at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. She has always been struck by the deafening silence regarding the questions it asks, and set out to introduce the topic to her students in SAR. But she also has a persistent anxiety and fear of driving her students away from Orthodox Judaism, and thinks carefully about the effects her teaching has on her students. -How can one go about incorporating Bible studies into their faith? -How should one go about teaching Bible studies without risking their students’ religiosity? -Is there any superior approach, or are there multiple valid ones? -And how have her students responded to her curriculum? Tune in to hear Sara discuss some of the ramifications of Biblical criticism, both educationally and for her own religious identity.
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