Episodes

  • Washington: Bimah and Beats

    Seattle, Washington has one of the largest communities of Sephardic Jews in the U.S. Rabbi Simon Benzaquen has been serving this community for 36 plus years. In addition to his typical rabbinical duties, he's also part of a Ladino hip-hop group, that is putting a modern twist on classic songs. He says the ancient romanzas they perform were written by the Sephardim to articulate the pain and loss of being expelled from their homeland during The Inquisition. Benzaquen talks about the importance of preserving the Ladino language, and the role rap can play in that mission in this music-heavy season 2 finale of American Rabbi Project.

  • The Festival of Freedom

    In this year's Passover episode rabbis from around the country share some of their favorite memories of the holiday.

  • Behind the Scenes

    In this special episode, go behind the scenes and hear from Justin and various members of his editorial team as they talk about the podcast, the creative process, why they do what they do and answer some of the most common questions asked about the podcast. So wash your hands and listen in as the American Rabbi Project team tells you how, and why, the (kosher) sausage gets made.

  • History is Personal

    This is the third and final episode in a special mini-series profiling Holocaust educators. First, we'll hear from a German college professor who teaches classes on the Holocaust and other genocides. He says it's important to focus on the role individuals play in carrying out a genocide and that real learning happens when students get uncomfortable. Then we'll hear from two screenwriters who wrote a children's book about the Shoah. Specifically, it's through the eyes of the cat who lived with Anne Frank while she and her family were hiding from the Nazis. They say it's a 'gentle' introduction to the Holocaust and is designed to educate and empower the youth.

  • Sharing the Silence

    Rabbi Peter Grumbacher is the child of Holocaust survivors. His father was a prisoner of Dachau who fled to the United States and then helped liberate Europe as an American Soldier. But growing up, Grumbacher's parents told him none of this. It was not uncommon for a survivor household to be a silent one. Grumbacher eventually managed to get the story from his father and today, he shares it with the world. This is the second part in a special mini-series where we hear from Holocaust educators about their thoughts on Holocaust education and remembrance today.

  • Ms. Strobel Weaves History

    Trudie Strobel was four when the Nazis came for her and her mother. During the Holocaust (also called 'the Shoah'), Strobel's mother used her skills as a seamstress to keep them alive. And it was this craft that saved Strobel again later in life when she had a complete breakdown due to the trauma of her childhood. Today Strobel is an embroiderer who uses art to tell her story and to educate newer generations about the tragedies of the past. This is part of a special mini series where we hear from Holocaust educators about their thoughts on Holocaust education in an age where the knowledge of the Shoah seems to be fading.

  • Maryland: Strong Deeds Gentle Words

    Rabbi Haim Ovadia has served at synagogues all over the world, from Israel, to Columbia, to the United States. Today he teaches online, speaks around the world and performs and preserves Iraqi-Jewish songs. In this episode, Ovadia talks about making Halacha (Jewish law) more relevant, his Sephardic upbringing and how Jews in the U.S. can "open up" more to the bigger American culture.

  • Pennsylvania: Out of Egypt

    Rabbi Albert Gabbai used to dream of visiting Philadelphia when he was a kid growing up in Cairo, Egypt. After fleeing imprisonment and harassment in the country of his birth, he would eventually make it to the United States and to the pulpit of Philly's Synagogue of the American Revolution. Gabbai talks about his life, his congregation and the importance of tradition in this episode of American Rabbi Project

  • Georgia: Debtors, Warriors and Comedians

    Savannah, Georgia was originally founded for debtors, paupers and other people European society thought needed a new life in the "New World". Some of those original settlers were Jews, many of whom were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. They would go on to form Mickve Israel, one of the oldest congregations in America. Today its pulpit is held by Rabbi Robert Haas. Additionally, he's a tour guide and interfaith bridge builder who also likes to moonlight as a stand up comedian.

  • South Carolina: The Organ and the Pillar

    The next several episodes will profile some of the oldest congregations in America. Specifically, three that pre-date the United States. That includes Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, South Carolina. Rabbi Greg Kanter gives a tour of the historic sanctuary and how it ties into events like the American Revolution, the rise of the Reform movement and the Civil War. He also discusses his hopes and concerns for the future.