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Torah Curious

Torah Curious

By Jeremy Borovitz
There's a new brand of Torah coming out of Berlin. Come and hear from some of the city's most interesting and enterprising young Jews, and learn about the wisdom they're bringing to the world.
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S2 Ep 6 w/Anna Schapiro: An artist must be a good person
Anna Schapiro thinks how we live matters. From her earliest memories of her grandparents in Moscow to her travels and travails in school and society, Anna believes in putting more goodness and love out into the world. Anna is rooted---but also wants to use this rootedness to dig deeper. Come and learn from Anna about learning, art, and how to figure out what something is really about.  For more on Anna, check out her website: https://www.annaschapiro.com/
54:09
February 16, 2022
S3 Ep 5: Growing up Jewish in Kreuzberg w/ Dana Vowinckel
Dana Vowinckel was the only child at the Fraenkelufer synagogue when she was growing up, a German-American Jew in a sea of memory, tension, and light. From lighting Hanukkah candles in Potsdamer Platz to summers in Chicago, her confluence of identities have allowed her to see behind the curtain of both the American and German Jewish experience. Come and learn with Dana as she tells us about blessing grandchildren, Art emerging from tragedy, and the complexities of growing up at a Jew in Kreuzberg. 
50:21
February 03, 2022
S3 Ep 4 w/ Paola Pilnik: The Stage is my home
Big welcome to our second LABA fellow, Paola Pilnik! Paola grew up in a progressive Jewish family in Brazil, went to University in the U.S., and now makes theatre and TV in Berlin---but none of those places are what Paola calls home. Whether in drag or confronting his own death, it's on the stage that Paola feels most comfortable. Come and learn from Paola about family trees, being yourself, and the Torah of the stage.  The LABA Berlin Artist Fellowship program is preparing a series of exhibitions and performances in November and December, at Salon am Moritzplatz from November 6-15th and at Framed in Friedrichshain from December 3-5th. This diverse group of 8 Jewish artists has worked and studied together since the spring, exploring the idea of ‘Chosen’ within Jewish texts and literature. Their installations, performances, readings and shows will confront this theme and hope to engage their audiences - you - with something truly special and thoughtful.  For a full schedule and further details about this exciting program, please visit www.aufbruch-am-ufer.berlin/laba-berlin.
50:24
November 24, 2021
S3 E3 Feel the words with Talya Feldman
Talya Feldman's grandfather had his own way of reading Tanach, the Jewish Bible that he passed down to his granddaughter: An internalization of the words and stories, something to be experienced, not just understood. Come and learn from Talya as she talks about being a Jewish artist in Germany, drops quotes from the Psalms and V'ahavta, and tells us the importance of having our own words heard---and felt.  Talya Feldman is the winner of the 2021 Dagesh Kunstpreis!
46:18
November 10, 2021
S3 Ep2: Waiting for the next note with Gur Liraz
Big welcome to our first LABA fellow, Gur Liraz! Gur is first and foremost a guitarist----and the other labels come a bit later. Come and learn from Gur as he tells us about Saul Bellow, why he didn't have a Bar Mitzvah, and why it's never to let to make the next note even more beautiful than the last one.  The LABA Berlin Artist Fellowship program is preparing a series of exhibitions and performances in November and December, at Salon am Moritzplatz from November 6-15th and at Framed in Friedrichshain from December 3-5th. This diverse group of 8 Jewish artists has worked and studied together since the spring, exploring the idea of ‘Chosen’ within Jewish texts and literature. Their installations, performances, readings and shows will confront this theme and hope to engage their audiences - you - with something truly special and thoughtful.  For a full schedule and further details about this exciting program, please visit www.aufbruch-am-ufer.berlin/laba-berlin.
40:10
October 14, 2021
S3Ep1: LIVE with Guest Host Laura Cazes and Sharon Ryba-Kahn
TORAH CURIOUS HAS GONE LIVE! To celebrate our THIRD season, and our Festival of Resilience, we recorded a live episode deep in the heart of Neukolln! Come and learn about the amazing work of Sharon Ryba-Kahn, as her and Laura explore the complexity of heritage, of growing up Jewish in Germany, the meaning of resilience, and the miracle of waking up in the morning. 
53:03
October 01, 2021
Torah Curious S2Ep16 w/Lars Umanski: The Feeling of Family
Lars' memories are filled with feelings----feelings of alienation but also of love, of acceptance, and of family. Just because we don't know each other, doesn't mean we aren't connected. Come and learn with Lars some Yiddish music, the importance of radical inclusion, and why nostalgia for a time we never new is just a means of expression of our Jewishness. 
46:49
July 20, 2021
Torah Curious Season 2 Ep 15 w/ Anna Staroselski: It's the ideas that matter
Growing up in Stuttgart, Anna didn't know a lot of other Jewish children, and she was often shamed for being 'different.' But as Anna attended Machane and grew into her own as a young Jewish leader, she emerged as a powerful advocate for the richness of Judaism and the rights of people. Come and learn from Anna as she talks about the value of listening, the problem with Sinat Chanim, and why a combination of 'stepping up' and humility is the right concoction for bringing our ideas (and not just ourselves) to fruition. 
49:48
June 30, 2021
Torah Curious S2Ep14 w/ Julia Kildeeva: Activism as a spiritual practice
Julia Kildeeva sees no conflict between her social justice values and her love of Torah Judaism. The Torah is an activist text, and it is asking us to act. Come and learn from Julia about where she feels Hashem (God) in her life, why she tries to keep Shabbat, and why the demands of the Psalms echo in our times. 
43:31
June 10, 2021
Torah Curious S2Ep13 w/ Hanna Veiler: Building up from the margins
Hanna Veiler is a builder. Hanna came to her Jewishness a bit later in life---and as soon as she was exposed to the magic of community, especially Jewrovision, she was hooked. Her first thought was: How do I build the infrastructure so that other young Jews in Germany can be brought inside the communal fold? Come and learn from Hanna about bringing in Jews from the margins, the power of Judith, and the importance of being a fighter.
42:53
May 13, 2021
Torah Curious S2ep12 w/ Lena Prytula: Made of many pieces
Lena Prytula has a lot of pieces to her identity---German, Russian, Jewish, Jewrovision lover. Moving to Germany from Ukraine as a young child, her religion classes at school and in her local Jewish community sparked questions of identity and practice not only for herself, but for her mother and grandmother, as well. Come and learn how she became the Rabbi of her family, the many definitions of home, and why Tikkun Olam speaks to her as a Jewish concept!  Lena is the first in a five-part mini-series interviewing the new members of the Vorstand (Executive Committee) of the JSUD (Jewish Student Union of Germany). 
42:25
April 28, 2021
Torah Curious S2Ep11 w/ Rebecca Rogowski: I'm angry, and I'm a part of the conversation
Of the four children at the Passover Seder, Rebecca Rogowski identifies most with the wicked child. Angry, upset, feeling separate----and yet, at the table, a part of the conversation. Come and learn from Rebecca about her grandfather (who was a real yekke), her 'acting out' at school that made her mother proud, and her willingness to search for spirituality in a secular and academic world. 
51:02
April 14, 2021
Torah Curious episode 10 w/ Dekel Peretz: The language of community
Dekel Peretz is a ubiquitous presence across Jewish Berlin. Winner of every theoretical Theodor Herzl lookalike contest, Dekel is a bridge between communities---religious and secular, Israeli and German. And Dekel doesn't really belong fully in any camp. Born in Israel, raised in the US, 20 years in Germany, Dekel is accented in every language he speaks. Which means he always has understanding of those at the margins. Come and Learn from Dekel about Bat Yiftach, Biblical intertextualism with Greek Mythology, and when he knew he wasn't going back to Israel.  For more information about Dekel, the Judisches Zentrum Fraenkelufer (JCC Fraenkelufer) or Fraenkelufer synagogue, check out these links! https://en.aufbruch-am-ufer.berlin/ https://www.facebook.com/fraenkelufer
59:48
March 10, 2021
Best of Torah Curious: Volume 1
It's been 27 episodes, and we've got a lot of Torah to show for it! Come and join us as we look back at five of our most popular episodes, with powerhouses Andres Bruckner, Dalia Grinfeld, Josh Weiner, Laura Cazes, and Benny Fischer.  Hear their stories, learn their Torah, and get excited for the many lessons we have ahead of us. 
37:01
February 17, 2021
Torah Curious Season 2 Episode 9 w/ Deborah Cohen: Becoming the Jewish Calendar
Deborah Cohen grew up speaking Hebrew and lighting Hanukkah Candles, but didn't know anything about when the month of Kislev heralded the holiday's arrival. She went to Passover celebrations, but it wasn't until she led a Seder in Texas that she began to really own her Judaism. Deborah is thirsty for knowledge, and to be a part of this tradition means an intimate relationship with both text and the Jewish calendar. Come and learn from Deborah about Swiss-German-Jewish identity and that peculiarity of blessings that come in many forms. 
44:23
February 03, 2021
Torah Curious Season 2 Episode 8 w/Michael Groys: The holiness of the secular world
Mischa Groys grew up hearing Yiddish in Eastern Ukraine, but it wasn't until much later that he began to learn about Jewish tradition. Steeped in Torah, Mischa finds holiness in drinking Gin on Passover and in infusing all of his daily actions with meaning---whether or not they are explicitly Jewish. Come and Learn from Mischa's overflowing wealth of knowledge and multiple identities as they weave into a holy whole. 
46:37
January 20, 2021
Torah Curious Season 2 Episode 7 w/ Sasha Lurje: The way Yiddish feels in your mouth
Sasha Lurje never planned on becoming one of the world's premier Yiddish singers. And her love of Yiddish isn't simply rooted in nostalgia. She likes it; it adds meaning to her everyday life. Come and Learn with Sasha about secular Soviet-Jewish identity, the world of Klezfests, and why the simple joy of jamming together can be the bedrock of community.
52:32
January 07, 2021
Season 2 Episode 6 w/Benyamin Reich: Living in Camera Obscura
Benyamin Reich is looking through the lens of the camera, and sees himself on the other end. Many years ago, growing up in a Haredi family in Zichron Ya'akov, photography was a foreign artform. But along the way, from Baltimore to Paris and finally to Berlin, he learned how to harness the light, and create beautiful images on the other side. Come and learn from Benyamin about Camera Obscura, finding the truth in images, and what being Jewish means for him. 
56:56
December 23, 2020
Season 2, Episode 5 w/ Eli Zaidman: Get yourself a backbone
Eli Zaidman doesn't take the easy way out----it's a lesson she got from her parents. The next challenge, the next obstacle, whatever's next, it's not supposed to be easy. Pushing yourself and understanding sacrifice is a part of what it means to be Jewish, and pride is something you should earn, not be born with. Come and Learn from Eli's belief in having it all and understanding of the real consequences of our choices. 
40:38
December 09, 2020
Torah Curious Season 2 Episode 4 w/Rabbi Neal Borovitz: Ritual as the hook of community
Rabbi Neal Borovitz vividly remembers Passover growing up---his Grandfather at the head of the table, surrounded by his numerous grandchildren, dozens of family members and neighbors crowding around too few tables. Because while he believes religion and spirituality are important, these rituals---of Seders, of Gefilte Fish, of reading Sholom Aleichem---those are the ones we remember nearly 70 years down the road. Come and learn from Rabbi Borovitz the elder about the Kaifeng Jews, Jacob's ladder, and how we can always remember the roller coaster of life is an ongoing process. 
52:16
November 25, 2020
Torah Curious Season 2 Episode 3 w/ Nehama Grenimann Bauch: I'm still finding my way
Nehama Grenimann Bauch has accomplished a lot. A mother of two with an MA in the bag and a PhD on the way, she's lived in multiple countries working with diverse populations. And she's still figuring some of it out. Growing up Orthodox in Israel, rediscovering a love of Yiddishkeit through Reform, finding holiness in the balconies---Nehama doesn't fit into any box, nor is she trying to do so. Come and learn from Nehama about allowing our personal Gd to be the holiness that sets us on our way.
58:52
November 11, 2020
Torah Curious Seasons 2 Episode 2: What will we build when we have the power w/ Benny Fischer
Benny Fischer is searching for the Torah we need. Former President of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and a former Moishe House Berlin resident, Benny is a deep thinker with a commitment to reflection. A real "Berlin Jew," Benny can trace his ancestry here for hundreds of years and yet he is persistently forward looking. He demands empowerment, while also wondering if we will continue to preach the same once we have the power. Come and Learn about Nachshon ben Amminadab with the one and only Benny Fischer!
54:54
October 27, 2020
Season 2, Episode 1 w/ Laura Cazes---Claim Your Space
When Laura Cazes speaks, young German Jews listen.  Laura has worked for the past five years at the ZWST, Germany's primary Jewish social and welfare organization. Whether it is about solidarity with minorities or uplifting the voices of women, Laura wants to push the Jewish community to do and be better----but for Laura, change comes from the inside. She has coined a personal motto of "Claim Your Space"----find the places that already exist, and stake your claim in its future.  Come and Learn from Laura as we explore the power of diverse identities and the story of Ruth and Naomi. 
47:58
October 15, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 18: SEASON FINALE W/ Rabbi Blady
Rebecca Blady is a powerhouse. Rabbi, Orthodox, Feminist, Partner, Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter, CEO and everything else. Come and learn her Torah as it oozes from her every word. She is one of the greats of the generation---don't miss her!
41:12
July 22, 2020
Torah Curious 17 episode w/ Avital Grinberg: Change is on the way
There weren't any other Avitals in her West Berlin Kindergarten as a child---but anyway, she made a place for herself. Whether it is as a Jew in a German world, a woman in a man's world, or a student in an establishment world, Avital is putting her voice, and her narrative, inside the bubble. Come and learn how Avital is making change throughout Jewish Germany, and how change is in the wind for this growing community. 
44:14
July 08, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 16 w/ David Schapiro: Comfortable as you are, in any language
David Schapiro grew up speaking four languages at home---and can be himself in any of them. At the young age of 21, he's developed a life philosophy which is at once consistent and profound: Be Yourself. Come and Learn with David as we talk about wholeness, family, and the importance of having a foot in multiple worlds. 
38:53
June 24, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 15 w/ Anna SIrkina: Home is where you create it
For Anna Sirkina, Home is an emotion. So is creativity. It's about imbuing your feelings and yourself into a space or a moment or a time and allowing those feelings of comfort, of taking your shoes off and sitting on the floor, to be the ritual expressions of feeling one's self.  Join Anna on her journey from Hanukkah parties in Hamburg to airport floors in Israel, as she creates her home, wherever she is. 
42:35
June 10, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 14 w/ Valentin Lutset: It's all connected
Valentin Lutset is constantly making connections. Between throwing big Jewish gatherings in Berlin to seeing behind and between the text, Valentin (or Velvel as he is known) wants to bring people and ideas together. His whole life is a synthesis---Torah and Music, Russian and Jewish, Modern and Hassid. Come and learn the deepest meanings behind the simplest of ideas, and see the world of Torah in a whole new way.
49:49
May 27, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 13 w/ Anastasiya Pletoukhina: The Social Priestess
Nastiya Pletoukhina is deeply rooted. Raised by three generations of ancestors, her knowledge of her heritage came later but she was born with a deep sense of identity and belonging. Join us on her journey of moving to Germany, relearning her great grandmother's chulent recipe, and fighting to show that the next generation of leaders can come from anywhere, especially those who might be at the margins. Meet Berlin's Social Priestess!
42:31
May 13, 2020
Direct Connection to God: Episode 12 w/ Martin Schubert
At the age of 5, Martin Schubert's mother told him he had a direct connection to God. The rest, as they say, is history. Join us as we take a look through Martin's theological and spiritual explorations, from the plains of Germany to the hills of Tzefat and Nepal. Martin's Torah is a part of Berlin's spiritual renaissance----come and learn what it's all about!
40:45
April 29, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 11: Mimouna Extravaganza!
As the sun sets on the last night of Passover, Jews break out the bread. In many Arabic countries, this ushered in the Mimouna, the party/festival/meet-your-neighbors block party that brought together Jew and Gentile in food and celebration. Normally, Berlin is full of Mimouna celebrations. This year, given Corona, we've moved online for the First Annual International Mimouna Festival (https://www.facebook.com/events/580538189229905/) Jeremy Borovitz talks with initiator Dekel Peretz about the founding of the International Mimouna Festival. Poet Mati Shmuelof reads an iconic Mimouna poem by Rabbi David Bozaglo (https://web.nli.org.il/sites/nlis/he/song/pages/song.aspx?songid=8412&fbclid=IwAR0gu9pR8chYnx9XFXC6FumDaPwa3lRHTMziuuAU145kDuQ6M1Ac-h8_0no#2,20,15319,23)  and author Erez Majerantz reads excerpts from his new book "Life is the best of a bad lot" recently published in German by AphorismA Verlag. (http://en.erezmajerantz.de/category/biographie-1?fbclid=IwAR3t7yJGgdfd0-tTt0Kj3kQml2r_f2ocRzmK_1hHdkc49y6OxgtJGd_eDHA)
43:10
April 14, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 10 w/ Sabrina
Sabrina reserves the right to reject her Judaism---she just isn't choosing to exercise it at the moment. Raised secular-Russian in Philly, she flirted with Islam before finding herself in the Orthodox Jewish world. Come and learn with Sabrina as she balances her multiple roads on route to forging her own path. To learn more about Sabrina, or about our work, check out basehillel.de! We have lots of Passover resources!
43:16
April 01, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 9 w/ Itamar Gross
There weren't so many Itamars growing up in Vienna---in fact, there weren't many who grew up like Itamar in very many places at all in Central Europe. Shabbat observant and open to the world, strictly Orthodox but still trying to understand the outside world. Come and learn how his agnosticism makes him more open, and take a listen to some people tunes that comprise the Torah of his soul. 
41:07
March 18, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 8 w/ Tanja Berg
After a chance encounter with a group of secular Israelis in her small German town at the age of 14, Tanja Berg began to understand that there was a whole other side to her Jewish identity. From London to Berlin to Israel, Tanja is an activist, a feminist, and a committed leader. Come and learn about her volunteerism, especially with Beit Deborah (https://www.bet-debora.net/), and get some amazing Torah from Bertha Pappenheim, the founder of the Jewish Women's Association in Germany in 1904. 
51:49
March 04, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 7 w/ Benjamin Schapiro
Benjamin Schapiro isn't your average medical student---or, for that matter, your typical Jew, or your typical Yeshiva bochur, or your typical Sociologist, or....the list could go on. His otherness, in fact, is such a huge part of his existence, that wherever he goes, he is bound to become atypical.  Join Benja (born Anatoly) as we go on a journey exploring the meaning of spirituality, Jewishness, and the mundane, and how all of it might be the same thing, after all. 
40:27
February 19, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 6 w/ Naomi Henkel-Guembel
Naomi Henkel-Guembel stands at the intersection of Jewish, Israeli, and German identity. Which part of ourselves is that which we choose, and which part is our burden? Please join us on a fantastic journey that will take us from Rabbinic gurus in the bay area to ancient family houses outside of Mainz, as we learn from Naomi what it means to grapple with an identity made of many parts. Oh, and also, she's going to be a Rabbi!
41:50
February 05, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 5 w/Josh Weiner
Josh Weiner is standing on the chair at his parent's Shabbat table, reaching for a more meaningful existence. From Jerusalem to London and eventually to Berlin, Josh finds meaning---and G-d---in the everyday. Come and learn with Josh as we explore Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and the Torah of sitting with friends by the Spree river. 
46:06
January 22, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 4 w/ Nina Peretz
7 years ago, a Rabbi's wife convinced Nina Peretz, along with her husband, Dekel, that they had to do something to help their local synagogue. Fast forward, and Fraenkelufer has turned into a young and vibrant communal hub in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood. From a timid public speaker to a powerful leader, learn how Nina's work transforms her community, and how her community has allowed her to be transformed.  Source sheet here: https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/182373?lang=bi
42:17
January 09, 2020
Torah Curious Episode 3 w/ Mendel Itkin
Mendel Itkin is an inheritor of the legacy of Ibn Ezra---a thinker and philosopher who still stays within the bounds of Jewish tradition. Part-time Academic, part-time anti-Missionary activist, full-time Orthodox Rabbinical student, Mendel is a force to be reckoned with! Don't miss our fascinating conversation, with some impassioned Torah! Source sheet below! https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/208580.1?lang=bi
40:51
December 24, 2019
Torah Curious Episode 2, with Dalia Grinfeld
Dalia Grinfeld is a force to be reckoned with! Assistant Director of European Affairs for the ADL, Dalia is always front and center as an active representative of the Jewish people. A thinker, an activist, and a friend, Dalia does a bit of everything. Our conversation ranged from growing up Jewish in Germany, to feminism, to why Jews in North America and Israel only pay attention when something bad happens. And of course, we get to learn about Jewrovision! 
45:38
December 11, 2019
Torah Curious: Episode 1 w/ Andres Bruckner
There's an amazing Torah coming out of Berlin. Have you heard it?  Andres Bruckner is a Rabbinical student at the Zacharias Frankel Rabbinical College. Born in Colombia to a Jewish father and Colombian mother, Andres only became interested in Judaism in his teenage years, eventually converting by age 20. Andres will teach us a bit about the Noahite laws, the seven laws which, according to the Torah, non-Jews are also obligated. Check out the source sheet link below to follow along! https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/203068?editor=1
39:24
November 27, 2019