Shtetl on the Shortwave

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Our CFRC funding drive show!!! As a way to honour radio613’s strong relationship with community radio, on this show we interview Tamara Kramer, host of Shtetl On the Shortwave: a bi-weekly Jewish arts & culture radio show on CKUT 90.3fm in Montreal. Malcah, Avi and Tamara discuss the relationship between community radio and jewish community building. We are big fans of Shtetl and it was such a pleasure to connect with Tamara. Thanks to all who support community radio and thanks to community radio for supporting us!

Featuring fun shout outs and great tunes from Mirah, Socalled and The Shondes.

Click here to listen to the podcast (right-click to download).

Beyond the Conventional Prayer Book

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

As a special Rosh Hashanah feature, radio613 interviews Joseph G. Rosenstein, author of Machzor Eit Ratzon – an independent, complete prayer book for the High Holy Day period. Rosenstein is also the author of Siddur Eit Ratzon. In our conversation, Joe talks about why he believed a new Machzor was necessary and what he tried to achieve with his translations, format and additional content.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Those interested in accessible and meaningful prayers and translations will definitely be interested in finding out more about the Siddur & Machzor Eit Ratzon:

Highlight Show

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Malcah & Avi return to the airwaves after a 6 month hiatus and share highlights from the first 50 episodes of radio613. If you are introducing your friend to the show, this episode is definitely a good place to start. We’ve got it all: Yiddishkeit, kabbalistic interpretations, book reviews, conversations with Jewish media-makers, musicians, artists and diasporists, poetry, Jewish political commentary… it’s good to be back.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Trees of Life

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

We are blessed to be able to, once again, present a Tu Bishvat/New Year of the Trees episode. This holiday can serve to remind us, daily, of the possibilities for meaningful connections with Trees, fruits, the Seasons, and the world that surrounds us.

There is a lot of work to be done reclaiming this meaningful holiday from those who have used it to justify colonialism, displacement, and erasure of Palestinian and Bedouin histories. Happily, we are able to feature many voices and texts that help us with reclamation by drawing from deep within the roots of Jewish life. Tune-in to hear a reading from Kingston author Leanne Lieberman’s new young adult novel Book of Trees; an update on displacement and resistance in the Negev; preparations and readings from our Kabbalistic Tu Bishvat Seder; plus, other radio waves turned to branches turned to more beautiful metaphors.

Music from Eekwol ft. Mass and Flipdabird (“The Tree”) and Testament (“Generation Z”).

Click here to listen.

Anti-Racist Action in Toronto

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 speaks with correspondent Yakov in Toronto following the protest against the English Defense League’s talk at the Toronto Zionist Centre on Tuesday, January 11th. The English Defense League is a racist, Islamophobic grassroots nationalist group in England that has been hosting rallies to incite hate for immigrants and people of colour. They were invited to speak in Toronto by the JDL, and facing no troubles at the Canadian border in their quest to spread the hate to Toronto, a robust group of anti-racist activists from many walks of life showed up to protest their talk.

Following the interview, Malcah and Avi discuss the latest in American right-wing anti-semitic lingo. Fear not, the Sarah Palin clip is oh-so-short and our indictments loom large.

Featuring anti-fascist tracks by Kingston’s own Dirty Lickens and Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird.

Click here to listen (right-click to download)!

Soviet-Jewish Alienation within the Bagel & Lox Culture

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 interviews Vlada Bilyak – creator of a new documentary entitled ‘Soviet-Jewish Alienation within the “Bagel & Lox Culture.”‘ As Bilyak writes, “[T]his is a short documentary I created exploring my feelings of alienation and authenticity doubts within dominant Jewish culture in North America as a Soviet Jew who emigrated from the former USSR as a child. The documentary contextualizes my experiences within interviews (mostly done on Skype) with other 20-something Soviet Jews and my mother.”

Be sure to watch the documentary on YouTube: part 1 & part 2.

Our interview follows up on the poignant questions and stories  in the documentary about anti-semitism and xenophobia, immigration to North America and the normative culture that exists here.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Review of Outwitting the Gestapo

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

This week on radio613, thoughtful reflection and conversation about Outwitting the Gestapo, Lucie Aubrac’s memoir of her life and activities in the French Resistance from May 1943 to February 1944, the nine months during her pregnancy.

Music of resistance from Mark Gunnery (“Ballad of the Uprising of the Rootless Cosmopolitan”) and Mirah (“Monument”).

Also on the show, the Jewish Canadian Open Letter Against Bill C49 and the Haymarket Affair Memorial.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Abrahamic Unity/Disregard

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Part one of this week’s radio613 takes a critical look at a recent radio interview with Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah. The interview, featured on CBC’s The Current, explores the thesis in Fatah’s new book “The Jew Is Not My Enemy”. The author claims that his book’s purpose is to challenge anti-Semitism in Muslim communities. Our analysis, however, suggests that Fatah’s unwillingness to acknowledge the realities of Islamophobia strongly discredits Fatah’s work and hinders the work of confronting anti-Semitism and building unity between Jews and Muslims.

Part two of the show features Malcah’s reading of “Goslin Day” by Avram Davidson from Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Music this week from Brother Ali (“Good Lord”) and The Narcicyst (“PHATWA”).

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Jew on This

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

This week: a real shidduch of anti-colonial Jewish collectives! As part of her visit to Turtle Island, Rachel (aka Anzya) from the <a href=””>Jew on This</a> blog came through Kingston to dwell in our Succah, break bread, dip honey, exchange stories, and build bridges. Since discovering one another on the web over the last year, we’ve been more than happy to find affinity with this wonderful blog coming out of Melbourne. From their ‘About’ page:
<blockquote>We want to embrace the idea that living in diaspora is the most significant way in which Jewishness can exist. When we’re in diaspora we’re without state power: this need not be disabling, but can be a source of empowerment and richness. As Daniel Boyarin has stated, “there is power to living on the margins”. Power here is not to be understood as ‘power over’—after Foucault we know that it is too simplistic to think of power in those terms. We’re thinking instead of power as productive of identities, languages and knowledges.
…We also deeply respect Indigenous peoples claims to sovereignty. The two systems can coexist. And so we acknowledge that this blog and our lives take place on stolen Indigenous land, primarily the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We take this seriously: not just the stealing of land which enabled our lives in Australia, but also the continuing colonial rule which exists in so many ways in Australia today.</blockquote>
During Rachel’s visit to Kingston, we ventured into the CFRC studios to record some of the conversations that took place over Shabbes/Succot. Click <a href=”“>here</a> to listen and/or read about her “radical Jewish adventures” <a href=””>here</a&gt;.

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The Velveteen Rabbi, Rachel Barenblat

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Just in time for the close of the Yamim Noraim between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we speak with the Velveteen Rabbi, aka Rachel Barenblat. radio613 collective members have appreciated the mindful Jewish thought emanating from Rachel’s blog for years. Malcah and Avi got the chance to hear Rachel’s poetry and speak with her about rabbinical school, High Holy day preparation, new translations, and the transformation of ritual to social justice. In the last week, the New York Times and the Forward have covered Rachel’s online work to support a New York mosque affected by the recent wave of inhumane Islamophobia in America. Rachel comments on these events as well.

Music from Beyond the Pale and Kol Nidre incantation by Cantor Moishe Oysher.

Tune-in here!

More info:
ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Jewish Fast for Gaza

Anti-Roma Racism in Europe & Canada

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

In the same week that Romani communities commemorated the Roma Holocaust (August 2), countries across Europe pushed through legislation to expel Romanies and destroy their settlements. Systemic racism and day-to-day violence against Roma persist in Europe – and with impunity. Episode 43 features our interview with Robert Kushen, director of the European Roma Rights Centre, who outlines the current and historical climate in Europe for Romanies. Special guest Laura joins the show to situate anti-Roma racism in a Canadian context. Finally, we speak with Rabbi Jonathan Freirich about shared experiences of exile as radio613 discusses the need for developing stronger Jewish-Roma solidarity.

Music from Boban Markovic (“Balkan Fest”) and Gogol Bordello (“Immigrant Punk”).

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

More info:

Open Source Judaism

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Episode 42 features an interview with Aharon Varady, founder of the Open Siddur Project. Aharon lays out how copyright creates barriers to meaningful prayer and access to the diversity of Jewish traditions. In response, Aharon created – “a Jewish free culture and open source project that bridges bookcraft, scholarship, and spirituality” – a Jewish DIY challenge to for-profit publishing companies. Yasher koach! If capitalism hurts your kavanah, you should tune-in to this podcast!

Music from Alain Chekroun (“Psalm 121”), Andy Statman Quartet (“You Were Revealed”), David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness! (“Electric Sher”).

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Diasporic Temples

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

We mark Tisha Ba’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the ancient Temples. As Jews committed to practice in the diaspora, where do we situate ourselves in relation to the 9th of Av? If there is no redemption in a State, what traditions can we draw upon or create to rebuild following collective tragedies?  A passage from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath inspires conversation about building temples of time, prayer, community, and tikkun (repair).

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Fringes Havurah from Philly

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

Malcah and Avi recount experiences at the recent G20 protests, including inspiring community mobilization and  violence from police and an anti-Semitic attack experienced on the streets of the Toronto.

This week’s show features an interview with four rad Jews from Philadelphia. Lots to learn as they connect non-nationalist Jewish religious rituals and practice with local community building and solidarity. Particular reflection is made on the Philly-based feminist havurah “Fringes” and the work of Philadelphia Jews for  a Just Peace. Tune-in! (original air date: July 2010)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Temim Fruchter of The Shondes

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 interviews Temim Fruchter from The Shondes – Brooklyn`s incredible riot grrrl/yiddishkayt-inspired rock ’n’ roll band. In the last month, The Shondes released their second studio album  My Dear One and completed an extensive tour of the U.S. This week’s show celebrates My Dear One and features its intricate yet catchy songs and Temim’s perspective on an album defined by the politics of heartbreak. Temim also reflects on The Shondes’ approach to building musical community, temples of activism, queer liberation and justice for Palestine and being part of a rich and proud, anti-colonial Judaism.


“My Dear One”
“I Watched the Temple Fall”
“Lines & Hooks”
“Let`s Go”

Click here to listen (right-click to download)

Semitic Soul meets Teruah

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

A very special edition of Semitic Soul with guest Jack from Jack’s has become one of the most influential Jewish bloggers on the internet by way of an incredibly informative, comprehensive and updated exploration of the Jewish music landscape.

In a happy joining of Yids living in rural-ish Christian towns, Jack joins DJ Grenadier this week live over the phone from Grass Lake, Michigan. From Post-Revival Klezmer to Yiddish song, reworked Ladino melodies, Sephardic electronica, Uptown to Downtown, Punk to Cantorial, Jack helps us understand what is happening in the “Silver Age of Jewish Music“. Don’t sleep on this music, Teruah will wake you up! (original air date: April 2010)

Naftule Brandwein – Turkish Yalle ve Uve
Budowitz – Bughici’s Tish Nign
David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness – Moscovitz and Loops of it
Golem – The Rent
Zahava Seewald – Papirosn
Harel Shachal & Anistar – Esh
Oren Bloedow & Jennifer Charles – Quinze Anos
Diwon – Tikkun Klali # 10
Chevan – Psalm 121 Esa Enai
The Sway Machinery – Ivdu Es Hashem
Girls in Trouble – Mountain/When My Father Came Back
Shabbat ReSouled – Borchu
Abraham Inc. – It’s Not the Same (Figure It Out)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Adrienne Cooper and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Memorial

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

Today, April 19, marks the start of the most intense period of  fighting between the Jewish resistance and the Nazi occupation during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. In a week of Holocaust Remembrance, many around the world are celebrating the spirit of resistance against oppression that arose during the Khurbn.  The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring (a 100+ year old Jewish organization committed to Yiddish culture and social justice), for one,  is hosting Warsaw Ghetto Uprisig Memorials today in New York, Toronto, and elsewhere.

On this week’s radio613, we speak with Adrienne Cooper of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring. Our conversation explores Holocaust education and remembrance through themes of resistance and mutual aid,  the work of AR and the Bund, Yiddish music as historical text, and much more. The show begins with the song “Di Shvue”, the theme of the Bundist movement, performed by Adrienne Cooper, The New Yiddish Chorale, and The Workmen’s Circle Chorus and concludes with a rendition of “Zog nit Keynmol” from the Partisans of Vilna album. (original air date: April 2010)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Adrienne Cooper is one of the most acclaimed singers of Yiddish vocal music in the world today. She has written, performed, and produced countless Yiddish theatre shows, was a key part of the “Klezmer Revival”, and worked for a decade as Assistant Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Recommended reading: “The Ghetto Fights” by Marek Edelman

Mark Gunnery of RiotFolk

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

In the midst of our simkhe celebrating movement from oppression to freedom, Avi and Malcah catch up with Mark Gunnery over the phone from Baltimore. Gunnery is a veritable Yidisher kemfer with a lot to share about radical Jewish community building…Tune in to hear about Purim protests and Human Rights seders, the Yiddish-zine “Fun Yidishe Reyd Ken Men Zikh Nit Opvashn Tsen Vasern (Ten Washings Won’t Cleanse You of Jewish Talk)”, reclamation, folk and klezmer, and the all-seeing state in a subversive Jew Town near you.

Gunnery has six albums available through through the Riot Folk collective. This week’s show includes the tracks “Government is War” “Destroy all Dreamers” “Kineahora” “Jew Town” and “Anarkikes”. (original air date: March 2009)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Check out Gunnery’s new album Panopticon.
Learn more about the U.S. Assembly of Jews Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid.

Love Revelation Concrete Revenge Purimspiel

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

It’s a Purim pre-drink this year on radio613 as the show welcomes Michelle and Ariel – two actors from the “Choose your own PURIM!” party in New York City on February 20 presented by Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, the Workmen’s Circle & Great Small Works Spaghetti. A preview of what promises to be a spectacle of masked gentrification fighters, revisioned Esther/Vashti revolution, Haman blasting horns, rebel yids, arbeter theatre-a-la-balagan, and more!!!! (original air date: February 2010)

Music from the Klezmatics, DJ Lil’ Ray, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and Slavic Soul Party.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Poet and storyteller Josh Healey

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

Josh Healey is a writer, poet, and community organizer based in Oakland, California. Speaking to radio613 about coming up in the East, activism in the Bay, being dis-invited from the JStreet conference in October 2009, and more – with knowledge of self, strong words to incite, and a callout for solidarity. Live poetry reading of the pieces “Born in 1984”, “Queer Intifada”, and “Where I Stay.” (original air date: January 2009)

Click here to listen (right-click to donwload).

More info:
Huffington Post article “Searching for a Minyan: Our Response to Being Censored by JStreet”
Josh Healey presents HAMMERTIME

Eli Rosenblatt on Aggadatah and the contours of Jewish community, secularism and piety in Yiddish literature, historical narratives and Halakhic decisions

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

This week on radio613, Avi’s Talmud khevrusa from Yeshivat Hadar, Eli Rosenblatt, joins the show. Eli is a Phd candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley. His insights have appeared in The Forward,, and other arenas of Jewish thought. The conversation ranges from Talmudic Aggadatah and the contours of “Jewish community”, secularism and piety in Yiddish literature, historical narratives and Halakhic decisions, and a reading of Yiddish American poet JL Teller’s work. (original air date: January 2009)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Virtually Jewish Spaces

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 welcomes Ruth Ellen Gruber – writer, photographer and independent scholar – joining the show via phone from Budapest, Hungary. The interview highlights Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European issues that are critically examined in her book Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture and her recent essay featured in the Jewish Quarterly Review, “Beyond Virtually Jewish: New Authenticitiy and Real Imaginary Spaces in Europe”. (Original air date: December 2009)

Ruth Ellen Gruber shares insights on the state of Klezmer in Europe with music this week from Itzhak Perlman and the Klezmatics (“Dybbuk Shers”), Brave Old World (“Berlin 1990”) and Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird (“Broken Tongue”).

Click here to listen to the show (right-click to download).

Check out articles from Gruber’s Ruthless Cosmopolitan column in JTA reporting on the recent Swiss Minaret ban and anti-Semitic demonstration in the Capital of Moldova.

National Day of Action for Migrant Justice

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 speaks with local migrant justice activist Authman about the Canadian government’s new regulations for temporary migrant workers, restrictions placed on refugee claimants, and the culture of fear and xenophobia fomented by the Conservative party. Authman also provides an overview of Canada’s Security Certificate policy and an update on the status of Mohamed Mahjoub who has been on a 179 day hunger strike to protest his 9 year detention at Kingston Immigration Holding Centre without charge.

Finally, a message of solidarity responding to the Swiss banning of Minarets and a collective call out of Jason (Haman) Kenney, Canada’s Immigration Minister. (original air date: December 2009)

More info:
No One is Illegal

People’s Commission on Security Certificates

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Sacrifice Culture

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

Canadian and American Remembrance Day and Memorial Day celebrations abound in 2009 with myths and messages from a culture in which war is glorified and soldiers are presented as means of sacrifice. Voices from this week’s show include: a syndicated JTA interview with Sholem Keller – a Jewish veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, famous comedian Jackie Mason’s Memorial Day address, Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” and analysis from the radio613 collective. (Original Air Date: November 2009)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Memories of a Jewish Market: Reena Katz returns to Kensington

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

After enduring a campaign of stonewalling and slander from mainstream Jewish institutions, artist Reena Katz and curator Kim Simon’s exhibit ‘each hand as they are called’ returned to the streets of Toronto this October. radio613 caught up with Katz for the exhibit’s finale. Tune in for the results of a public site work that evokes a complex and dynamic representation of Toronto’s diverse personal, political, and cultural Yiddish and Jewish histories. Included in the broadcast – Katz’s haunting musical compositions performed throughout Kensington Market. Inspired by the exhibit, Malcah recounts the landscape of Toronto’s Jewish feminist labour movement in the 1920s and 1930s. (Original Air Date: October 2009)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).
RadioDress Productions

Succos and an Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

Chagim air-time proceeds. Following some harvest-y music, the show begins with a look at the succah as a check on opulence during a period of joy. In light of the succah’s symbol of the temporary nature of ownership, we explore some of what it means to live as a settler on stolen land. Joining us for this discussion is Matt – one of the organizers of the annual Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner in Guelph, ON, Turtle Island. Tune in for  informative words and thoughts. The show concludes with a lament for the loss of Marek Edelman – the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance, Bund Member, committed diasporist, cardiologist, and a lasting anti-fascist voice in Poland. (Original Air Date: October 2009)

Music from Frank London’s Klezmer All-Stars, Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Testament.

For audio from last’s year’s Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner, visit

Click here to listen to this week’s show (right-click to download).

Transgression and Transformation

January 15, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 returns to the airwaves in time for the the Holy Period between the New Year and Yom Kippur. Beginning with sounds from Avi’s chevrusa study at Yeshivat Hadar this summer. The show features an interview with lifelong anti-racist activist Tema Okun – one of the organizers of the upcoming North Carolina Havurah Yom Kippur Retreat. Tema speaks about the possibility of uplift through a process of Teshuva in the context of the ongoing Occupation of Palestine. Efforts to bridge anti-oppressive politics with religious practice and community building are also explored. The show concludes with a Rosh Hashanah themed Hasidic tale about the Baal Shem Tov. (Original Air Date: September 2009)

Music from The Sway Machinery and Davka.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Queering Diaspora

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

Alexis Mitchell joins radio613 this week to speak about Inextricable, an installation that presents three interconnecting videos that queer prevailing understandings of diaspora. the upcoming exhibit. The interview outlines a queered notion of diaspora that does not rely on the restrictive binaries of the nation-state. Mitchell also discusses her own experiences as a queer Ashkenazi Jew living in Canada/Turtle Island and unattached to the idea of a homeland. (Original Air Date: June 2009)

Music and poetry from Charming Hostess, LAL and Kevin Coval.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Blocklisting Jewish Art, an interview with Reena Katz

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

Over the last year, Toronto sound, installation, and performance artist Reena Katz has developed an inspiring exhibit exploring Jewish history in Kensington market. The exhibit – each hand as they are called – was set to launch at the Luminato Festival on May 20, 2009. A last minute decision by the Koffler Centre For the Arts to completely dissociate from Katz, based on their perception of Katz’s Israel/Palestine politics, is currently preventing the exhibit from taking place.

radio613 spoke with Katz this week to talk about each hand as they are called, the process of blocklisting, and the efforts of hegemonic institutions to confine exchange of ideas and expression. (Original Air Date: May 2009)

Click here to listen to the interview (right-click to download).

Purim Hangover Show

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

One week after Purim celebrations, Malcah and Avi  are in-studio to speak about the story of Purim, Megillah reading, today’s Haman(s), Esther-Vashti unity, and other gluten-free-hamentashen goodness.

Also featured this week, an interview with Katie Goldstein, community organizer for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) in NYC. On Saturday March 14, JFREJ, The Workmen’s Circle/ Arbeter Ring and allied organizations in the Lower East Side presented “Lower East Shushan: a Purim of Vacant Lots” a Purimshpiel that weaves current issues of housing justice, oral histories and the story of Purim.

Music from: Galeet Dardashti (“Vashti”) and Le Tigre (“Deceptacon”)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Reading from The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

Malcah reads an article by Julie Iny from the compilation The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage. The reading explores and challenges the complexities of white and/or Ashkenaz privilege, anti-semitism, racism, and marginalization of identities.

The following is a summary provided by the editor of Flying Camel, Loolwa Khazzoom:

“My mom is from Missouri and my dad is from India, she replied. Indiana? he asked, confused. No. India, she clarified. As Julie mapped out her father’s migration from Iraq to India, David informed her that Mizrahim (North African/Middle Eastern Jews) are violent, racist, and greedy, in contrast to civilized Ashkenazim (Northern European Jews). Feeling suddenly paralyzed, disembodied, and violated, Julie realized that yet again, her hazel-green eyes and light skin crossed her over the border and into hostile territory, where she was accepted only if she gave up half of her self.”

(Original Air Date: March 2009)

Music featured this week from Divahn, Daddo & The Ladino Voice, and Narcicyst.

Click here to listen.

Klezmer Mongrel: An interview with Geoff Berner

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 meets up with klezmer musician Geoff Berner in Kingston. Featuring music from Berner’s trip to Kingston on February 12 and a conversation about evolutions of Klezmer music, reclaiming the title of tradition, Jewish history and solidarity, and Vancouver 2010 – ongoing colonization, gentrification, and homelessness in occupied British Colombia. (Original Air Date: February 2009)

Featured music:
Luck in Exile (live at an unknown wedding hall in Kingston)
Traveller’s Curse (from the album Whiskey Rabbi)
The Dead Children Were Worth It! (live at the Artel in Kingston)
King of the Gangsters (live at the Artel in Kingston)
Authentic Klezmer Wedding Band (live at the Artel in Kingston)

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

New Year of the Trees

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

radio613 celebrates the New Year of the Trees! The collective highlights Tu Bishvat’s call for spiritual revival through a deeper connection with the natural environment. The agrarian, Tanachic, and Kabbalistic origins and interpretations of the holiday are discussed in the current context of industrialization and environmental destruction.  A reading from  Wisdom of the Jewish Mystics, a trip with “The Nice Jewish Time Traveller”, an “uprooting” of Tu Bishvat’s co-optation by the JNF. And more! (Original Air date: January 2009)

Music from Joni Mitchell and Aloe Blacc.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

Tis the season…for assimilation and resistance

January 13, 2017 - Leave a Response

Malcah and Avi chat about the“Chanukah Season.” Why is Malcah’s favourite Chanukah song a Christmas song? How do we connect the struggle against destruction of Jewish life, identity, and culture by the ancient Maccabees and our current struggle against assimilation? Lots of fun airing of grievances and Chaunukah stories.

Chanukah music by Rage Against the Machine, Daddo & the Ladino Voice, the Leevees, Theodore Bikel, and Yurodny. (Air date: December 2008)

Click here to listen.

Levinas & Settler Solidarity with Indigenous Struggles

November 1, 2016 - Leave a Response

radio613 collective member Sean speaks about theories and actions of solidarity. Sean introduces the work of Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas…How does one encounter the “Other” in a manner that works to achieve solidarity? Levinas’ theory is discussed in the context of Settler-Indigenous solidarity on Turtle Island. Related to this, we air on an interview by Aaron from CKUT with Hannah Mermelstein of the Birthright Unplugged program, which takes Jewish youth on tours through the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The show concludes with a call for solidarity with people of colour at Queen’s University facing ongoing racism. Audio from a recent assembly where student’s spoke out about the hostile racist and Islamophobic environment at Queen’s and in Kingston. (Air date: December 2008)

Click here to listen (right-click to download)

“Two Houses and a Longing” An interview with filmaker Dorit Naaman

November 1, 2016 - Leave a Response

This week on radio613, an interview with film-maker and film-theorist Dorit Naaman. Dorit’s DiaDocuMEntaRY film series is primarily rooted in and around her hometown, Jerusalem. The series takes a personal and powerful look at issues of displacement, nationalist/colonial narratives, the effects of the Apartheid Wall, erasure of Palestinian/Indigenous life and history, and much more. (Air Date: December 2008)

Audio from Dorit’s most recent work “Two Houses and a Longing” and music from Ehud Banai, DAM, David D’Or, and Shlomo Bar.

Click here to listen (right-click to download).

New Jewish Feminism(s): An interview with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein

October 31, 2016 - Leave a Response

On this week’s show, Malcah speaks with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Rabbi Goldstein is the director of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning and is the author of ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens and The Women’s Torah Commentary and The Women’s Haftarah Commentary published by Jewish Lights. Her most recent work is the anthology New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future, which will be availalbe in November 2008. The interview covers many of the themes reflected in Rabbi Goldstein’s teachings and writings including a number of perspectives found in the New Jewish Feminism compilation. Tune in for a really engaging interview. (Air date: October 2008)

Click here to download.

Sukkot & Tenant Activism with Sam Kuhn

October 31, 2016 - Leave a Response

The collective shares the Succah building/dwelling experience and reflects upon the significance of Succot. An interview with Sam Kuhn of the Tenant Action Group in Belleville. Sam speaks about direct action activism around housing and homelessness, solidarity, and more. Also, on this week’s show, a review of the wonderful film, “Ushpizin.” (Air date: October 2008)

Music from Suheir Hammad and Golem.

Click here to listen.

Tenant Action Group:
Ushpizin film:

Radical Yiddish Song with Daniel Kahn

October 31, 2016 - Leave a Response

Avi speaks with musician Daniel Kahn (“Verfremdungsklezmer = Radical Yiddish Song + Punk Cabaret + Gothic American Folk + Klezmer Danse”) at the Ashkenaz festival in Toronto. The meaning(s) of Yiddish culture, the notion of a klezmer revival, connections with Jewish history and the Shoah, essentialized idendities, kaddish/kiddush music, and more. (Air date: September 2008)

Click here to listen.

Check out Daniel Kahn at:

Christie Pits Riot – 75th Anniversary

September 11, 2016 - Leave a Response

radio613’s inaugural show recognizes the 75th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot in Toronto. Highlights from the Heritage Toronto ceremony, with reflections from historian Cyrill Mernick and Jews who experienced the Riot and the violent anti-semtism, racism, and xenophobia of the day. Also, a discussion with DIY critical historian Tim Groves of the Missing Plaque Project about Toronto’s hidden past. Playwright Tara Goldstein joins the show to talk about her play “Lost Daughter” set in Toronto at the time of the Christie Pits riot…with a play reading from collective members. (Air date: September 2008)

Music from Geoff Berner and Pharaoh’s Daughter.

Click here to listen.

Klezmer Mix / Honouring Theodore Bikel, ז״ל

August 19, 2015 - Leave a Response

radio613’s DJ Grenadier was on the boards last week to host “World Skip the Beat” on CKUT 90.3fm in Montreal, spinning a klezmer mix and hopping onto the mic to interview Yiddish culture maker/impresario Frank London in an effort to honour the legacy of folk legend and activist Theodore Bikel, who passed away on July 21, 2015. London and his band, The Klezmatics, are part of Der Groyser Kontsert: A Tribute to Theodore Bikel presented by KlezKanada on August 23 at Oscar Peterson Hall in Montreal. Moment-Theo-Bikel-gala-0844-sm-300x200 Listen to klezmer mix (right-click to download) Listen to Theodore Bikel tribute w/ Frank London(right-click to download)

Episode 87: Republic of Love + Disability Justice & Spirituality

November 24, 2014 - Leave a Response

radio613’s November edition features:

An interview with Reena Katz – host of a the new radio program, “Republic of Love: art, cultural resistance and sacred mysticism from Toronto: Huron-Wendat, 6 Nations, 3 Fires Territory or, “the City of Living Corpses” as Emma Goldman liked to say.”

An inteview with Lauren Tuchman on Tikkun Magazine’s Disability Justice & Spirituality Issue. Lauren Tuchman is a 2nd year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. Lauren is passionate about building and creating Jewish spaces that are truly and deeply accessible for all. Lauren has taught about disability and Torah in a variety of settings, including most recently as a Hollander Fellow at the National Havurah Committee’s Summer Institute in Rindge, New Hampshire. See below for a transcript of this part of the show.

Traditional folk Belarusian Jewish music from Litvakus’ new album “Raysn”

Click here to listen/download our November show
Read the transcript of our interview with Lauren Tuchman

Republic of Love broadcast info and archives
Tikkun Disability Justice & Spirituality Issue
Listen to & purchase Litvakus’ “Raysn”

Transcript: In conversation with Lauren Tuchman on Tikkun Magazine’s Disability Justice & Spirituality Issue

November 17, 2014 - One Response

To listen to the conversation, go to the November edition of radio613 by clicking here

Avi of the radio613 collective: First of all, welcome to radio613 Lauren.

Lauren Tuchman: Thank you so much for having me.

Avi: Great. And so, maybe we will start with what your reaction was to seeing the release of this Tikkun magazine fall issue entitled Disability Justice & Spirituality. Yeah, what was your first reaction to seeing that?

Lauren: I was absolutely thrilled. I am a second year Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and I’m completely blind. So these are issues that I’ve lived with for an incredibly long time and [inaudible] and I do a lot of writing and thinking about disability, spirituality, and religious community and how to really centre the experience and the Torah that Jews with disabilities can bring to the collective discussion. So when I saw this magazine, it was, I really felt a lot of jubilitation, because its not every day that you see things like this.  And, it’s certainly not every day that you see a discussion that goes beyond physical access. Because physical access is really part one. Physical access is, Can I get into buildings? Do I have a prayer book that I can read? But that’s only part one. Part two is, how do we change the culture from the inside out? What do we do with troubling texts? What do we do with troubling metaphors? And these are really important issues for clergy to really be grappling with. Because I think, too often, when we sit down to write a divrei Torah or to give a sermon of some variety, we might throw in a metaphor that we casually use in everyday speech and we don’t really think about the implications. And it was really, really wonderful and refreshing to read several perspectives of people saying, no actually you need to look at these metaphors and see, okay, how are they sending a message of your community not being as welcoming of a community as you might want it to be. And I think it’s important for us to do that work to look at ourselves and to look at the speech that we use and the work that write and the discourse that we engage in and try to make it as inclusive as we can.

Avi: Definitely some of those articles, like you mentioned, kind of go right to the heart of some of those questions about oppressive metaphors. Metaphors that re-enforce disableism, for example. The article “Holy Access” by Darla Schumm speaks to what you were just saying. Maybe you could share some of your thoughts on how to engage with, like, some of the oppressive metaphors that are very normative and just, texts that can be, like, an impediment to true accessibility.

Lauren: Absolutely. So, this is a very pertinent time of year for this discussion because next week’s parsha has a story that I personally find incredibly difficult. It’s the story of Yacov giving the birthright, and the means by which he does so. And our tradition, pretty much, takes Esau as being, sort of captured, as really a negative character. The rabbis  have all kinds of midrash about why it is that Yacov is, of course, the right recipient of the birthright. But we don’t ever look at the means by which he gains the birthright, and I think that’s a really important conversation to engage in.

Avi: Hmm.

Lauren: And so, were I to look at the article “Holy Access” in light of this text and I’ll give a brief summary for your listeners. Yacov and Rivkah, or Rebekah, basically, have a strategy devised, I guess for lack of a better word to disguise Yacov as Esau and to trick Isaac – who, at that point, is pretty much completely blind, at least that’s the reading that I get from the text – to think that Yacov is Esau and that, therefore, Yitzhak will gave Yacov the bracha meant for Esau. And so, there’s a scheme devised. He dresses up in Esau’s clothing, and brings the game that Itzhak wanted Esau to bring him and, there’s a whole ruse devised. And, so, through that, I look at that text, and I think to myself, ok, first of all, this is an experience that blind people, often wonder, there’s always a fear in the back of your mind – am I being given all the information? Are people pulling things over me? People have had experiences like this in various ways that I read in this text and I also see Yitzhak really wrestling with, I don’t think this is a the child that I think it is. And, he’s claiming to be Esau, but I’m getting all of these hints that he’s really Yacov, but I’m going to go with it because he’s claiming to be Esau and because I can’t see him, I really can only trust what he’s telling me and he seems to be wearing the clothing that Esau would wear and he has the game, and I know that Jacob isn’t really into that kind of a thing. So,  ya know, I’m gonna go with this. And, at the risk of retrodressing twenty-first century thought onto Yitzhakh’s thoughts, because we don’t know the back-story, and I can only imagine that, after the akedah, Yitzhak is not the same as he was before, shall we say. So, I look at this text and I think to myself – how can I approach this as somebody who can relate to this in a way that, perhaps, others cannot or have not? With the disclaimer that my views are mine alone and do not represent anybody else. And think, ok, how can I give a drash, or how can I study this text in a way that’s reverential toward the Torah and towards our sacred tradition, while at the same time, bringing a highly critical lens to the interchange here? And, so, when I’m looking at an article like “Holy Access” I think that is a very good paradigm that we can use when we’re dealing with difficult texts or when we are dealing with difficult metaphors and things that we can do as conscientious religious and spiritual leaders to say, “I have this text here, this a sacred part of our story, and this text can be harmful or hurtful to people in my congregation or my community, what can I do to be reverential of our tradition, while at the same time saying, this is not an easy text and really, honestly, grappling with the text?” My personal view is that, it’s much better to know the difficult texts very, very well, to be able to wrestle with them, to be able to contend with them, than to pretend that they don’t exist. I think that it’s considerably more intellectually honest and more integral to the tradition to say, “These are texts that we have, these are texts that we grapple with, and these are texts that we wrestle with, but ultimately Torah has much to teach us, and through bringing our own Torah to the table as we engage with the thousands of years of tradition that we have, we can somehow come to find a way to relate to this text.” And, the way that I may relate to Parshat Toldot this year may be completely different to how I relate to Parshat Toldot next year and the year after. And, I think that’s really important to have a religious community in which those sensibilities of marginal people can be really centered and in which that Torah which has often been relegated can be brought to bear when we encounter a difficult text. And it is very difficult, I understand that there may be a lot of resistance, we have a lot of tradition, you know, that has Yacov portrayed in a particular way, and, I don’t feel for myself when I think of our ancestors. If I, I don’t believe that my wrestling with an action they have taken in any way detracts from my reverence of tradition; in fact, I think it enhances it because I am then in relationship to that tradition in a really authentic way and I believe that that’s what we, fundamentally, are called to do as Jews, is that we are called to wrestle deeply with text.

A: As far as the reverence that you speak of, but through a critical lens, I think that Darla Schumm kind of puts it as “engaging sacred texts and stories with suspicion, asking where and how they function as tools of oppression and exclusion while simeoultaneously mining those same texts for messages and models of iiberation”. So I do think that relates a lot to the process that you’re speaking of and it’s something that I feel strongly about, as far as, like, the prophetic tradition within Judaism pervading throughout, and that it doesn’t go away when there are oppressive aspects of our sacred texts. But then I have to admit, you know, there’s also points of, kind of, wondering to myself, well, is that a cop-out? Or, is that a fair kind of approach? So, I dunno, I wonder if you could go a little deeper into how you kinda grapple with that?

L: Yeah, so, I have thought an incredible amount about this, very intentionally. Umm, because, sometimes when you see texts that have such oppressive metaphors in them or are sending really difficult or problematic messages it is really hard to keep top of mind the fact that we as Jews have a prophetic tradition. And, I really like the quote that you shared, I think that it is absolutely true – that’s basically the hermeneutic that I use when I look at our tradition. Because I do think that there are important ways in which texts have been, and continue to be, used as metaphors and weapons of exclusion – not only for people with disabilities, but for many marginal groups. And that’s why, thank G!d, there are a variety of new, hermeneutical ways in which we talk about texts and we talk about theological belief around these texts. I’d like to see that happen more in that Jewish community than we’re doing now. Umm, I think that there are a lot of very critical readings that we can bring to texts. And I don’t think that those critical readings detract, I think they actually enhance. So, I think that it’s a very deeply personal process, and I think that everyone’s process is different and I think that everyone’s process is dynamic.  And I am right now trying to reclaim my reverence in a different way in light of my critical lenses that I’m applying, simultaneously trying to maintain that reverent spirit, however defined– and I’m still working on how to define that.  Because it’s really– and I’ve often been tempted to say, “Well these are really ancient texts, these are texts that are born out of a cultural context that is completely different from our own, so I can just dismiss them.” But I think that’s intellectually dishonest.  I also think it’s intellectually dishonest to do the opposite and say, “Well, Hazal, our sages, torah, whatever you want to say– they are infallible, they are always available to teach us, turn it turn it, you always find something in it.”  Absolutely that’s the case, and I certainly think there’s always– we mine the depth of torah all the time and we are always finding new insights.  But I think if we don’t apply our own sensibilities to text, we really are not able to connect with it in a really authentic way.  And I feel that grappling with stories such as Yaakov and Yitzhak and Rivka from my lived experience as somebody who is blind, that helps me then move forward and figure out what to do with this text that is part of our sacred tradition but I find incredibly painful.  But at the same time, I can’t just say “Alright, I’m gonna dismiss this because this is a terrible act.”  So it’s this constant– I can be angry, I can be outraged, I can wrestle, I can grapple with the text, but if I then turn around and walk out the door and say, “I’m not doing this anymore,” which is something that– you know, who doesn’t have days when they think to themselves, “Why am I doing this?  I should just turn around and walk out the door.” If I do that, I’ve lost.  I’ve given up and I can’t do the work that I want to do in the world.  And so I really feel it’s my sacred obligation to figure out what do we do with these texts.  Especially given the world in which we live, which we don’t really think in a nuanced way about texts anymore.  You’ve got the beautiful passages about inclusion that are brought out for certain– for disability awareness month– and then you’ve got people on the other side who are bringing out texts to support their own views. And there isn’t really an honest and heartfelt and deeply anguished wrestling with text.  

A:  Yeah.

L:  And I think that that’s a really important thing for spiritual leaders in formation to do, as a general rule, because I think that if we’re gonna have to develop our own relationship with these sacred stories, and I think that if I’m going to be the best pastoral presence for the people that I’m gonna come in contact with, I need to take care of my own stuff, so I can sit down in a genuine relationship with somebody else and say, “How can we work through this difficult thing together?”  And I think that’s a really important thing to do.

A:  Yeah absolutely.  And first of all, I just want to say that I appreciate that you are doing that work and it is heartening, as a disabled Jew who doesn’t put aside as much time as I’d like into this process, but it’s heartening at the same time just to know that folks like yourself are doing that and that there’s gonna be more tradition to build upon.  One reflection I also thought was I think that sometimes in contemporary places around Jewish torah interpretations, there is this idea of how to reconcile the ancient culture in torah with the modern world that, with the built in assumption that the modern world is where it’s at, you know?  Maybe not perfect but…

L: Right.

A: This is very much my kind of issues that I have when I studied at Hadar, for example, that there’s a lot of “How do we reconcile this tradition, this halakhic tradition, this torah tradition, with our modern values?” But our modern values with regard to people who don’t have normative minds and bodies are abhorrent and completely against, in my view, our tradition of respecting the holiness of each person and, we live in– our modern society is one that has created barriers to marginalize certain minds and bodies and create this rigid idea of normal.  This is not to say that, you know, we should romanticize the past, but I also feel like there’s an acceptance of the status quo that I’m not exactly comfortable with either.  I don’t know if that makes any sense to you.

L:  I absolutely resonate with that.  I think that it’s a trap that a lot of progressives tend to fall into, is assuming the work’s been done.  We passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Unites States and similar legislation in other countries.  We’ve done the work to try to make our buildings accessible, we’ve tried to introduce more inclusion language.  But the work hasn’t been done.  And we need to really look at our society as a whole– not that a lot of disability activists are doing.  When we talk about disability justice and we talk about disability justice from a religious perspective, which is really what I’m interested in– really we’re talking about looking at every human being as truly being created b’tzelem elokim, in the image of God.  And looking at disability as a natural part of the human condition.  That disability is diversity.  Disability is not a thing that has happened to you and needs to be fixed necessarily.  Disability is something that is dynamic and changing and different people relate to their disabled identity in whatever way works for them.  I certainly relate to mine very differently today than I used to, and I’m sure in the next couple of years from now I’ll relate to it very differently then.  I think that it’s really important for us to be honest about our modern society.  This is not to say that the progress that we have made is not phenomenal progress.  I mean, I am grateful to be living today as opposed to in another era.  I am grateful for the opportunities that I have, I am grateful for the access that I have.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done.  There are a lot of challenges that I have, but I am certainly incredibly privileged, incredibly blessed– to be the first blind woman that I am aware to be in rabbinical school ever.  I claim that tentatively because I don’t know of anyone, though if there are others I would be more than thrilled to know.  So our society has opened up so many doors for people with disabilities.  But it also has really reified a lot of really difficult normative ideas of what is a normal body, what is a normal mind, what does time look like, what does a life look like– all of these things that people with disabilities who may go through the world in a different way or a way that’s different from the normative mainstream are writing and thinking about in really deep ways and saying “How can we apply a lens of disability justice in a way that actually makes the world better for all of us?”  I truly believe that when we talk about issues of disability justice– as an example, and there are many examples of this in a variety of different marginalized perspectives– when we bring these ideas to the table, we are helping everyone.  We are all, in many ways, constrained by the messages that society gives us about the perfect body, the perfect mind, the perfect life, the certain ways in which we demonstrate the ways in which we demonstrate our success in the world by reaching certain milestones.  And when disability activists say, “What do these things say about our larger culture?” we’re really saying, “How can we make the world more liberating for everybody?”  Not just for people with disabilities but also for our allies, for our families, for our friends, for anyone.  And that’s really the hermeneutic that I’m trying to bring.  It’s not about only bringing disability torah to the table, because I really do believe very strongly that there is no such thing as The Disability Torah, because we are all different, we all have our own experiences, we’re not going to have the same experience as another person.  And so, as I speak about these issues from my perspective as a rabbinical student, I am aware that I speak for myself and only myself.  I do not claim to speak for anyone else.  And I think that being aware of the diversity within marginalized identities is as important as it is to bring the marginalized identity to the table.  I feel the same way about feminists’ spot in this way, as well.  I’m thrilled that there are feminist torah commentaries in the world, but I’m also very aware that there are multiple voices in the feminist conversation and we have a more robust feminist discourse around religion when we bring all those things to the table.

A:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  I think that that work of disability justice that you’re talking about, that in and of itself is very Jewish work.  Because it’s not about changing what kind of minds or bodies we have, but changing the world that we live in.  Which is very much part of the work of repair that we have to do. You mentioned a lot of those issues of intersectionality and making these connections for justice. I appreciated the description in Tikkun Magazine that says “Disability justice demands that human lives be valued, not for their ability to create profit but for the divine spark within each of us.  Meeting this demand, in practice, requires nothing less than what Tikkun has been calling for– a radical turn toward a society based on love and care rather than on profit and domination.”  So anyway, I liked that connection and I think that also leads into the second article we wanted to discuss by Rabbi Julia Watts Belser called “God on Wheels:  Disability in Jewish Feminist Theology.”  Rabbi Watts Belser is pushing a lot like what you’re talking about in terms of what disability culture, as she refers to it, can bring to the world broadly and the change we’re seeking. I was interested in your reactions to the thoughts that she was putting out there.

L:  Yeah. So her piece was phenomenal.  I think there are a lot of different angles that we can take when we talk about the things that Jewish disability culture, or disability culture more generally– outside of Judaism, can bring to the wider conversation.  And I think there are several things that disability culture as it’s defined in activist literature can bring to that.  I think a lot of it has to do with how we redefine the notion of a good life and a life well-lived.  I think also bringing a disability reading to text and to our conception of the Divine is really important. Because I think that these are really important things for people to grapple with.  I think that for a lot of people with disabilities, religion is very important– as it is for a lot of people without disabilities– and we’re as diverse in our religious beliefs as any other group of people on the planet.  And so I used to hold that disability theology was kind of like, “Yeah, this is nice, alright, but I’m not so into it, I’m more into feminist theology, I’m more into learning torah through these other lenses.”  But my view has really shifted.  Because I think the way we talk about God and the way we talk about text is really a reflection of how we think about ourselves.  And I think that as I have thought more about how disability really does affect every aspect of my life, I have thought about, “How do I relate to a Divine in the body that I inhabit, in the world that I inhabit, with my own life experiences?”  And the notion that God has wheels is pretty amazing!  In the sense that, what does that mean?  If God goes through the world on wheels or if God goes through the world with a cane, or if God goes through the world with any kind of a disability what does that say?  I’m not necessarily in favor of making a claim about God having certain attributes. I believe those things are important for us as people to better relate to God, I haven’t really, I’m still kind of like in process when it comes to how I think about God, but I really think that the idea of God going through the world and having an access problem is really phenomenal.  It blows open a lot of things.  And it really makes us look at our own communities.   There’s this notion in parshat terumah about the Israelites build a sanctuary that God may dwell amongst us, right?  And if we relate to God as having a hard time dwelling amongst us for whatever reason, what does that charge us with? We have some beautiful teachings in our tradition about how we are to relate to the stranger, how we relate to the other.  What does it mean for God to dwell amongst us, what does it mean to have those connections with the Divine and with other human beings who are created in the image of God?  And when we aren’t inclusive of all who are trying to seek a spiritual home in our communities, does that exile God in some way?  I think that’s a really powerful idea to think about.  I think it’s really powerful to look at the text of Ezekiel’s vision, which is really really complicated, especially when you read it at 5 in the morning on shavuos morning it’s even more complicated, right?!  But when you look at it from that perspective, it really challenges us to look at ourselves and our communities and say, “Is God having an access problem?” I’m really just blown away by it, I’m still processing it, and I certainly haven’t come to any definitive conclusions, but I’m still very much processing it.

A:  Yeah, I really like– I think you’ve brought out a lot more from the article for me, hearing you talk about it.  I think it can also be powerful, this image of God bound to a wheelchair basically.  This is the picture from Ezekiel’s vision.  It kinda goes to this idea of people who experience disability challenging the capitalist, individualistic idea that the normal person is independent and does not rely on others, while disabled people do.  Which of course is not true, everyone is relying on people in different ways.  And this article brings out the importance of the experience of asking for help, building community, doing that in a just way is so valuable for everyone.  And how can we be in relationship with God?  With the idea that God is seeking us out– what are the sort of barriers that God is facing?  I feel like the world that we live in, which needs to be healed, including healed of the structures that marginalize and oppress– how are those keeping God from us as well?  Or how are those even oppressing…

L:  Yeah, I think that thinking of God as seeking us out and having a hard time seeking us out– I think that’s a really powerful image.  It challenges us to look inwardly and outwardly at who we are as people, as individuals, as communities, as societies, as the world in general.  I also think it’s really important to think about the ways in which when we alienate people from our communities, that can not be– that can often translate into them feeling alienated from spirituality, from God, from something larger than themselves.  And unfortunately that’s a common experience.  It’s a common experience across a lot of different groups of people, not just people with disabilities.  Something that a lot of people experience.  I think that if we’re all being honest with ourselves, those of us who are spiritual seekers are engaged in– you know, common religious leaders, our religious leaders are trying to do this work– who hasn’t had a difficult taxing spiritual journey?  That’s something that we’ve all been through and I think those can teach us a lot about who we are.  I also think that it’s really important that when we look at these articles together, they’re teaching us not only to think about God and to think about text and to think about tradition and the sacred differently, they’re also looking at us and saying, “If I believe, which I do, that human beings are partners with God in the work of creation and the daily renewal of the work of creation, in what ways are we doing that and in what ways might we do it better?”  I think in a world in which community is really elusive, one of the things that we Jews have, that we can really bring to the human family, is this notion of being in community.  And when that community is not inclusive of all of its members, or when you have people who have a disability that might result in them feeling isolated from community– what ways can we as a collective, bring that person in?  Even if that person can’t physically be at services for whatever reason, what can we do?  What kind of things can we as communities do to send that message that, “Hey, we are here for you, you are a valued member of our community, you are as created in the image of God as anyone else in this community.”  That’s one of the most beautiful teachings in our tradition, and I think that when we see this image of God as being on wheels, that’s pretty powerful!  It’s really bringing that to the fore in a really really visceral way.  If everybody is created in the image of God, whether your body is normative or not, it doesn’t make a difference because we are all children of God.  That’s just the bottom line for me.

A:  Absolutely.  I just wanted to ask if you have, before we wrap up, any other… anything else you wanted to add?

L:  I really urge anyone who’s interested in these issues to read this.  Really phenomenal pieces.  And I’m incredibly grateful to Tikkun for having this issue.  I had no idea until I saw it myself recently, and it’s just a real breath of fresh air because often these experiences and these perspectives are not part of the mainstream discourse.  A large part of what I hope and pray to do with my own rabbinate, to bring these voices to bear, to really center disability torah in a way that disability torah hasn’t really been centered.  Because so much of the activist, which I am incredibly grateful for the amazing work that has been done already, has been focused on physical access, on attitudinal adjustment.  And those are really important.  But once we get people with disabilities in the door, how can we bring the rich array and tapestry of talents and gifts that people with disabilities can bring to bear in our communities in holistic ways?  Without making sure… not to pigeonhole someone into being, “You are the blind rabbinical student.”  There is much more to being me than a blind rabbinical student, though that certainly factors a great deal into how see my rabbinate is going.  And just as I see myself as a multifaceted person with a variety of interests and a variety of things I care deeply and passionately about, so too do others.  And religious communities and communities of all kinds are enriched when we bring the full personhood of all of our community members to bear.  And I would love to see a world in which there are more communities that are really intentional about allowing people to be who they are in that space in a really genuine and authentic way.  And I think that we’re seeing a movement towards that in a lot of the more grassroots Jewish communities.  And I think there’s going to be an effect on the larger community as well, and I pray that it happens speedily in our days.

A:  Amein v’amein.  I want to wish you ongoing strength and inspiration in the work you’re doing at rabbinical school and elsewhere.  And we look forward to speaking to you again.

L:  Absolutely.  Thank you again so much for the opportunity.  It was a pleasure speaking with you.

A:  Take care.

L:  Thank you, you too.

Episode 86: Doing Jewish Off the Grid

October 17, 2014 - Leave a Response

Image description: Photo of the lobby of the Federation CJA building in Montreal. Over the banner of the second floor, a banger hangs reading "Massacre à Gaza: CIJA is Complicit. CIJA (Centre for Israel-Jewish Affairs) offices are located on the second floor near the banner.

So squirrels are stealing schach from your Succah, cold rain is soaking everything, and you’re looking for some radio to extend the season of simkhe, warm sun and golden leaves? Happily, radio613 is back on air, with brand new programming for 5775!!! This episode’s feature interview is with Emily and Julia, two members of the organizing committee for the upcoming conference, Doing Jewish Off the Grid: Politics, Identity, and Spirituality, which is set to take place in Toronto, October 25-26. The conference aims to “create a space that recognizes the diversity of Jewish perspectives, to movement build with progressive Jewish community, and to generate alternative discussion around issues that do not currently hold enough space in the mainstream.” The show begins with coverage from a late summer action at the Montreal Federation CJA building where a group of Jews gathered to denounce the Israeli government’s assault on Gaza and the organized Jewish community’s complicity in it. Special thanks to Courtney Kirkby of CKUT Radio in Montreal for offering her reporting on the action.


With music from Shuly Rand, the star of our favourite Succos movie “Ushpizin”.

Click here to listen/download the show.

For more information and to register for the Doing Jewish Off the Grid conference, click here.

Read the press release from the Jews who took action at the Federation CJA building in August here.

Stay tuned to our blog for new episodes of the show every month, or listen live on cfrc 101.9fm in Kingston.

Episode 85: People of the Book(s)

May 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

On this episode of radio613, Malcah and Avi share and discuss a list of books they are reading or are prominently on their radar:

He, She and It by Marge Piercy

Living in the Shadow of the Cross: Understanding and Resisting the Power and Privilege of Christian Hegemony by Paul Kivel

None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948 by Irving Abella and Harold Troper

The Issue is Power by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy

Also featured, some new music arrivals at CFRC 101.9fm from artists Aviva Chernick, Lenka Lichtenberg, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.

The episode begins with a review of the Harold Green Jewish Theatre production “New Jerusalem” that explores the interrogation and excommunication of Baruch Spinoza at the Talmud Torah Congregation in Amsterdam, 1656.

Click here to listen/download.

Episode 84: “A Jew is not from scratch” – Miriam Hoffman Interview

April 1, 2014 - Leave a Response

Miriam Hoffman is a Yiddish  language, literature, and culture educator, author and sage. She is also a groundbreaking Yiddish playwright . We highly recommend tuning in to our interview with Hoffman, especially if you have a strong connection to Yiddish and diasporic languages. The interview took place at the Arbeter Ring’s “Vokh in Yiddishland” 2012.

Click here to download Part One of the interview.

Click here to download Part Two.

Ginzburg Geographies w/ Jewlia Eisenberg of Charming Hostess

February 10, 2014 - Leave a Response

We are very happy to share with you our interview with the prolific artist Jewlia Eisenberg. Over the years, Eisenberg and her band Charming Hostess have created art at the “intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness”. Charming Hostess’ latest work, the Ginzburg Geographies, unearths the lives and geographies of two Jewish anti-fascist intellectuals and organizers in Italy – Natalia and Leone Ginzburg along with Italian regional musical traditions, anti-fascist songs, and Italian Jewish liturgy.

Download and listen to the interview here.

Learn more about the Ginzburg Geographies here.

Charming Hostess website link.

Episode 83: Decline9 in Solidarity with Elsipogtog

December 4, 2013 - Leave a Response

This week’s broadcast coincided with the Emergency Day of Action – Solidarity for Elsipogtog on December 2, 2013. The call was made by HWY 11 Land Defenders. Hwy 11 is the site of one of the encampments in Mi’kmaq Territory where Mi’kmaq peoples are protecting the water from Houston Based company SWN who are trying to conduct seismic testing for fracking on unceded Mi’kmaq lands. The RCMP are attempting to repress resistance to fracking there, through harassment, violence, and arrest.

Malcah spoke with a representative of decLINE9-Cataraqui for an update on local solidarity actions in the Kingston area. decLINE9 Cataraqui is a grassroots group based in Kingston, Ontario on contested Mohawk (Kanienkehaka) and Algonquin (Anishnabek) territory. The group is “dedicated to resisting the proposed reversal of the Line 9 pipeline, a project that would see Tar Sands Oil carried through this land, from Sarnia to Montreal.”

Click here to listen to the interview

Learn more:

Episode 82: Turbo Folk Stories with Briga

December 3, 2013 - Leave a Response

A few years ago an album called Diaspora by Montreal based violinist Briga found its way into the CFRC library – a happy surprise for our collective that yearns for such fierce, beautiful music rooted in Balkan, Ashkenaz, Romani, and Middle Eastern traditions. Briga released Turbo Folk Stories in 2012 -an album produced after Briga’s return from a  tour through the Balkans playing Romani weddings & funerals with Bulgaria’s top violinist and mentor Georgi Yanev. You might have also heard Briga’s playing on one of our favourite Geoff Berner tracks, “Daloy Politsei”/”Down with the Police”. Avi caught up with Briga for an interview before her band’s performance at the “But is it Jewish?” showcase at this year’s Montreal Jewish Music Festival.

Click here to listen to the interview plus musical selections from Briga’s repertoire.

Track listing:
Briga – “Igraj Devojko”
Briga – “Qalbi (Mon Coeur)”
Briga – “7/8 Makedonska”
Briga – “Duj Duj”
Briga – “On The 40”

Episode 81: Censorship @ lemood

November 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

Tune-in to hear our first ever remote broadcast from November 4th, 2013 when we broadcast live with Malcah in-studio at CFRC and Avi joining in from Montreal. We were also joined by Sarah Woolf, a writer and researcher who was recently uninvited from participating in the Le Mood “festival of unexpected Jewish learning, arts and culture.” Woolf was scheduled to moderate two panels – one about a historical walking tour of Montreal’s garment industry and another titled “Where are all the radical Jews?” about the radical history of Montreal Jews and Jewish institutions, until she the panels were cancelled, effectively banning Sarah along with co-panelists Aaron Lakoff, Moishe-Volf Dolman, and Lisa Vinebaum from participating in Le Mood. We spoke to Sarah about the censorship and what she and the other scheduled panel participants did afterwards. Sarah also shared content from the upcoming walking tour about labour organizing and the Montreal garment industry.

The show also features previewed tracks from the new album of Geoff Berner covers, Festival Man, which accompanies his new book by the same title (“Unlistenable Song” covered by Rae Spoon & “The Rich Will Move to the High Ground” covered by Kris Demeanor and Cutest Kitten Ever!). Finally, we rebroadcast an excerpt from our interview last year with Jonah Aline Daniel from Narrow Bridge Candles.

Click here to listen to the show.

Click here for more information about the Le Mood censorship.

Learn about the Interactive Museum of Jewish Montreal here.