Rabbi Rant: The Real Lesson in “S-Town”

If you haven’t listened to the S-Town podcast yet, you should.

Not only because everybody else is doing it (though that does seem to be the case – it’s the fastest podcast to ever reach 15 million downloads or streams on Apple Podcasts).

And not necessarily because it’s the greatest podcast of all time. (I think it’s a great piece of storytelling through journalism, but it’s neither revolutionary nor profound.)

Its beauty stems from the simplicity of its aim – to get to know someone else as best as possible, without judgment.

This endeavor is perhaps best encapsulated in a short dialogue between Brian Reed, the host and journalist, and a man named Tyler.

Tyler: Do you see me being a bad person?
Brian: Do I?
Tyler: Yeah.
Brian: No man, I see you as a complicated, normal person, you know?
Tyler: Yeah.
Brian: I mean, I, I disagree with some of your decisions, but you also, you’ve had a very different life experience than I’ve had.

This attitude, of openness to others’ unique stories, is the key to good journalism.

It’s also one that Jewish sages encourage and that more of us should embrace.

By prioritizing curiosity over judgment, we can let go of both the illusion that we understand each other and also the need to force each other into our ideological boxes.

Perhaps this is why the rabbis of the Talmud offer a surprising blessing for one who sees a large congregation of Jews:

Blessed are you God Who knows all secrets. [Why this blessing? Because] their minds are unlike each other and their faces are unlike each other (BT Brachot 58a).

When confronted with differences, our tendency is to try to focus on similarities. This blessing reminds us to lean into our differences. We may all be in the same place, but we’ve all taken a different path to get there. Remembering this, paradoxically, may be the only way to keep us together.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC – Israeli Iced Coffee

Unicorn Frappuccino

Unicorn Frappuccino

Our newest feature – #SpottedinJewishDC – will highlight something we or our readers find in DC that is particularly Jewish. It can be a product, store, bumper sticker, whatever! If you spot something Jewish and want us to mention it, just snap a photo and tag it with #SpottedinJewishDC or email it to us!

While the Unicorn Frappuccino may be winning the Instagram game, our newest feature, #SpottedinJewishDC thinks that Pleasant Pops‘ newest summer drink wins the flavor game. If you’ve been to Israel during the summer, you know how refreshing an Israeli Iced Coffee can be. Their version of an iced coffee turns this morning essential into the best adult slushie the world has ever tasted. Made of coveted cold-brew coffee, local whole milk and organic raw cane sugar, you’ll be wide awake and dreaming of the next time you can have one.

Past Jewish Entrepreneur of the Week, Roger Horowitz, brings this Israeli treat to his shop in Adams Morgan, with an option for the milk-averse made with almond milk. We suggest you try one ASAP (ask for a coffee slushie), and take a photo with it using #SpottedinJewishDC. We can keep the unicorn on her toes (er…hooves).

Israeli Cafe

Israeli Iced Coffee at Pleasant Pops

Spotted in Jewish DC - Aroma

Aroma Espresso at Montgomery Mall

If you’re looking to do a taste-test of this treat, head to Montgomery Mall in search of Aroma Espresso Bar, an actual Israeli brand specializing in coffee and beyond.

If you’re looking for other Israeli flavors, check out this recent post on The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jewish Food Experience, “In DC, Israeli Food is On the Rise,” or their recipe for an Israeli cappuccino (cafe hafuch) you can make at home!

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Happy Purim!

Confused? Good. This was a joke in honor of the holiday of Purim, which begins this Saturday evening, March 11th. Purim is known as the day we eat triangle shaped cookies (hamentashen) and read the story of Esther in the megillah out loud. It’s also known as a day we turn everything upside down by wearing costumes and getting drunk – it’s April Fools meets Halloween.

But, Purim’s not just another excuse to dress up and party – there’s actually a deep spiritual message behind the holiday, one especially relevant in a year where everything seems to have been turned upside down (e.g. Trump defeating Clinton, the Cubs winning the World Series, the Patriots coming from behind to beat the Falcons, the La La Land / Moonlight fiasco, etc.).

Throughout the year, we delude ourselves into thinking that we control our surroundings and that we know everything. Purim is a day to let go of that control and give in to the unknown. To specifically lose control.

There’s a deep fear in acknowledging and sitting with uncertainty – a fear many of us have experienced this year. But, it can also be liberating to appreciate the limits of what we can perceive or know. Purim is about finding hope in the most unexpected places by giving in to surprise and embracing how quickly things can turn around.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Purim this year, there are lots of incredible opportunities here in DC – check them out HERE