About Evolve

I’m Bryan Schwartzman, the host of Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations . Evolve is a multimedia initiative of Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist Movement. On behalf of Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D., who directs all parts of Evolve, and the entire Reconstructing Judaism team, I’m thrilled to welcome you to our podcast community.

What is Evolve, you ask? It is a multimedia initiative designed to spark respectful, sacred conversations about the urgent issues faced by Jewish people today. It’s primarily built around a website with videos, essays and learning curricula from thought-provoking rabbis, leaders and creators. The topics of Evolve are Judaism and gender, spirituality, antisemitism, why live a Jewish life, technology, identity, community, race, justice, and Israel/Palestine. On this podcast, I converse with Evolve essay authors and other contributors to discuss these topics. Some of the topics we’ll cover include Judaism and gender, spirituality, antisemitism, why live a Jewish life, technology, identity, community, race, justice, and Israel-Palestine. What we hope will emerge is in ways that we hope produce new ways to look at age-old challenges.

Still want to know more? Here’s a bit about the larger Evolve project from Rabbi Staub:

Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations promotes the ongoing evolution of the Jewish community by grappling with the urgent issues facing the Jewish community in the twenty-first century. We live in challenging times. Many people are alienated by traditional Jewish prayer forms and beliefs about God. They question whether their Jewish identity should be central to their lives, and they question whether the State of Israel should be a central pillar of their identity. Some might not know what it means to belong to the Jewish people. When we say “Jews,” do we mean Jews of all colors? Do we have in mind people with a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as Jews who experience poverty, people who do not believe in God yet consider their justice work or art to be the central expressions of their Jewish identities? Jews who also identify — in equal or greater measure — as African-American, Asian, or queer? Where do spiritual seekers, non-Jewish family members and allies fit into all this? Too often, we are reluctant to address these questions out of a fear of communal conflict, but at Evolve we are digging in...deep.

The ongoing, vibrant transformation of Jewish civilization today depends on surfacing and discussing the challenges we face. We bring the wisdom and riches of our traditions to life by studying and implementing that wisdom in conversation with the Jewish heritage. This podcast, and Reconstructing Judaism, do not necessarily endorse all opinions aired on the show. Central to our mission is cultivating open-hearted listening, even when we disagree. That can only happen when we reduce our resistance to listening to viewpoints that we do not endorse. Our conversations are guided by abiding by the values of tzelem Elohim (regarding and treating all people as created in the divine image), kavod (respect), redifat shalom (pursuing peace) and makhloket leshem shamayim (disagreements for the sake of heaven).

We aim to build conversation and community. We want to hear from you! We welcome your questions responses, comments and suggestions. Write to us at [email protected].

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This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.

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