For Jews around the world, the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah/the New Year, and Yom Kippur/the Day of Repentance) are a period of both celebration and contemplation, individually and communally. It’s a time to reflect – and, more importantly, to turn that reflection into action, into doing more good in the coming year. We can use this time to imagine the kind of community we want to build.
Perhaps a dose of inspiration will help kick-start that process…
For your pre-High Holiday viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite “inspired Jewish ideas.” These ELI talks videos can help you open up the conversations you need to have to build the community you dream of. Which video fits your vision best?
To Inspire Inclusiveness
Pam Schuller is a stand-up comedian who was once diagnosed with the worst case of Tourette’s in America. Her ticks were so disruptive that she was ejected from her synagogue; she almost left Judaism altogether. This powerful, touching, laugh-out-loud funny talk is a great way to start the conversation about inclusion in your community.
To Inspire Heroism
Is Superman Jewish? The “Comic Book Rabbi,” Simcha Weinstein should answer questions like this. He knows more about this subject than, well, he might care to admit. Torah tales have been the inspiration for superhero narratives since their inception in the early 20th Century. Rabbi Weinstein’s delightful tour of comic book history examines everything from the role of dual identities to the impact of the Holocaust, and may just help you unleash your inner Jewperhero.
To Inspire Empathy
Kashrut (the laws of keeping Kosher, meaning “fit” to eat) has set the standard for what it means to eat Jewishly since biblical times. But the actor, educator, and chef Simon Feil uses his time on the ELI stage to remind us of a parallel set of laws meant to keep the humanity in our meat. His talk is the perfect jumping-off point for conversations about animal welfare from a Jewish perspective.
To Inspire Justice
The #BlackLivesMatter movement has brought racial justice to the forefront of the American mindset and is helping raise our collective consciousness. Jews have classically been strong allies in achieving equality. But the thing is, reminds Ilana Kaufman in this truth-to-power talk: not all Jews are white. Turn the conversation about racial justice inward with her talk about race, racism, Jews of Color, and the Jewish future.
To Inspire Resilience
What do Hank Azaria, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Maimonides all have in common – and why is it in danger of being lost? The singer-songwriter and educator Sarah Aroeste shares the simple, but the compelling message: Sephardic culture is Jewish culture. And the language of the Sephardic world, Ladino – a richly textured amalgam of Spanish, Hebrew, and a dozen other linguistic and cultural influences – has, and can only endure if all Jews recognize the collective responsibility to preserve it. Scrap the Yiddishisms and learn a few survival skills from Judeo-Spanish with this pop culture-laced talk.
And a Bonus Talk To Inspire Thankfulness!
Twelve-year-old Tal Dimenstein is the youngest ELI speaker yet, but her talk packs a heart-wrenching punch. An emotional family story woven seamlessly together with central Jewish texts and stories makes for a compelling reminder to appreciate the things we’ve got – right now.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu! Here’s to a good, sweet new year!
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