Bryan Schwartzman is an award-winning journalist, critic and fiction writer. He has approached the question of “What does it mean to be Jewish in today’s world” as a 20-year reporting project. His search for deeper understanding has taken him from his cultural Jewish upbringing in Queens, N.Y., to the mystical northern Israeli city of Tzfat, a kibbutz chicken coop, the mountains of the southern Sinai, the Tunisian Island of Djerba, a Jewish enclave in Johannesburg, post-Katrina New Orleans, the slot canyons of south central Utah, the classrooms of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the newsroom of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent and, now, Reconstructing Judaism in Wyncote, Pa., where he’s a member of the communications team. In his spare time, he writes fiction that’s occasionally published and seeks inner peace in the lap pool.
He was co-creator and co-host of #TrendingJewish: The Jewish Podcast About Everything. (Archives from the show remain available on this site.) He is a blogger for The New Normal, a New York Jewish Week online publication focusing on issues of inclusion. He and his wife, Amy, live in suburban Philadelphia and are the parents of two daughters.
June 12th, 2018 | Season 0 | 42 mins 37 secs
BimBam, a nonprofit Jewish media studio, has created more than 350 animated video for children and adults. Youtube analytics reveal BimBam’s content has been viewed online for thirteen million minutes, or 24 years. BimBam’s founder, Sarah Lefton, and executive director, Jordan Gill, explain how they have sought to revolutionize Jewish education through digital storytelling and meaningful screen time.
May 29th, 2018 | Season 0 | 52 mins 54 secs
This episode introduces another theme we’ll be exploring over several episodes: How is technology impacting Judaism and vice versa? The hosts of Judaism Unbound, Daniel Libenson and Lex Rofeberg, argue that the internet has revolutionized the Jewish landscape and made Jewish texts and knowledge radically accessible. They argue that, rather than entering a period of decline, Jewish life is migrating into an era that is at least partially defined by digital connections.
May 22nd, 2018 | Season 0 | 41 mins 38 secs
Like a number of upcoming episodes, this show focuses on how Jewish communities are evolving. Rabbi Sid Schwarz, author of Jewish Megatrends, discusses the phenomenon of “tribal Jews” and “culture Jews” and the how the two groups, which largely break down along generational lines, view Jewish life very differently. He also shares lessons learned from his nearly 40 years in the rabbinate.
February 19th, 2018 | Season 0 | 48 mins 33 secs
Taking a page from the Judaism Unbound podcast, Rachael and Bryan ask the questions: What does Judaism do and what it is for? What does it do for those who don’t feel compelled by God to live life according to Jewish law? Rabbi Maurice Harris fields these questions, and also explains why he avoids “outing” himself as a rabbi while he’s a passenger on a commercial flight.
January 26th, 2018 | Season 0 | 34 mins 8 secs
Filmmaker Joshua Gippin discusses his antipathy to the idea that Jews are the chosen people and his journey that led him to embrace Reconstructionist Judaism, which rejects the idea of chosenness. The directory of "The Chosen People? A Film About Jewish Identity" also examines the challenge of presenting multiple perspectives on chosenness while holding such a strong personal perspective.
January 5th, 2018 | Season 0 | 38 mins 27 secs
David Lubell discusses what brought him to Ecuador, how we’ve unwittingly taught our children to fear immigrants, and why he’s dedicated his professional life to making America more welcoming to immigrants.
December 5th, 2017 | Season 0 | 46 mins 52 secs
Too often, people overlook the blessings of being alive. Judaism has, it seems, a blessing for every occasion. Bryan and Rachael are joined by Rabbi David Teutsch, Ph.D., and storyteller puppeteer Marilyn Price to discuss the relevance of Jewish blessings today. Teustch and Price read from their new book “From Gratitude to Blessings and Back” and put up with Bryan’s invocation of Fiddler on the Roof.
November 28th, 2017 | Season 0 | 30 mins 56 secs
Abigail Pogrebin, a noted print and broadcast journalist, isn’t an observant Jew but spent a year observing the major and minor Jewish holidays and writing about her experiences. Abigail discusses with Bryan and Rachael about what each holiday asks of each of us, and how the Days of Awe challenge us to consider our own mortality and think about how will prioritize our lives and spend our time and energy.
November 21st, 2017 | Season 0 | 37 mins 9 secs
Bryan, Rachael and guest Rabbi Jordan Gendra go medieval, medieval history that is. The Barcelona-born Gendra delves into Spanish history, including the 15th century roots to the recent standoff surrounding Catalan separatism. Bryan and the rabbi get into a friendly debate whether there are analogies between the independence movement in Barcelona and the secession of the South that led to the American Civil War. Oh, and he also charts his own journey from converso to Reconstructionist Rabbi and how that’s helped him reach Jews outside the mainstream.
November 14th, 2017 | Season 0 | 40 mins 22 secs
First, Cosmo Kramer made a coffee table book about coffee tables. Now, we record a podcast about a podcast. In this episode, Bryan and Rachael chat with Emily Cohen, a rabbinical student and creator of Jew Too: Tales of the Mixed Multitude. They discuss the podcast medium, the influence of Star Wars in Bryan’s moral development, and the profound role that non-Jewish families have played in Jewish lives.
November 7th, 2017 | Season 0 | 36 mins 15 secs
What happens when a rabbi and a spiritual seeker carpool to work, stick a camera on the dashboard, and invite the world to watch? You get “Carpooling with Rabbi”, a 36-part Youtube series. Rabbi Seth Goldstein and Kirsten drop by #TrendingJewish to talk about the power of talking and the challenge of driving safely while discussing weighty philosophical topics.
October 31st, 2017 | Season 0 | 33 mins 23 secs
It was not easy to find faith for Jennifer Janes after years of chronic illnesses. But this spiritual hospice social worker from San Antonio has used Judaism as a guide help her help others in difficult times. How does someone raised as a nominal Christian find a Jewish path in the middle of Texas? Bryan and Rachael will find out!
October 24th, 2017 | Season 0 | 40 mins 43 secs
Rabbi Jon Cutler had an incredible career as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. After celebrating his recent retirement, Jon tells Bryan and Rachael about his challenges being a gay man in rabbinical school and the U.S. military while also being a voice for minority soldiers. Jon also unveils his secret plans for Bryan’s fitness routine!
October 10th, 2017 | Season 0 | 40 mins 35 secs
Rabbi Leiah Moser has two passions: studying Talmud and composing electronica music. In this episode, Bryan and Rachael uncover the links between Jewish tradition and funky modern music.