Episode 254: The Jewish 1% - Danielle Durchslag
Support for this episode of judaism. Unbound comes from the family. Jcc in palo alto california whose vision is to be the architect of the jewish future. The oshman's jcc empowers you to experience jewish paths toward a life of joy purpose and meaning through innovative jewish learning and wellness programs community building and initiatives to develop the next generation of jewish leaders. Learn more at www dot palo alto jcc dot org this judaism unbound episode two hundred fifty four the jewish one percent. Welcome back everyone. I'm dan lee benson and lex rosenberg and first of all. Merry christmas to all who observe in any way that you may observe. We are excited to share this episode with you a really fun and amazing interview with danielle dirk slug before we jump into it. We just want to note that this is the last friday. We always release are new episodes on friday. And this is the last friday of twenty twenty first of all what a relief. What a terrible year it has been. But there's another reason to mention that it's the last show of two thousand twenty. Which is that a lot of people like to do their annual giving at the very end of the year. Do we have a large stack of contributions to start sending out. And so if that describes you and you'd like to make a gift to judaism unbound that would be really amazing and appreciate it. We're really looking for number of donors amount of gifts so if you can only afford a little please nevertheless consider giving it because we think that other philanthropists will be very excited about the idea that we have a large number of donors that a large number of people who are listening to judaism unbound also feel part of it in some way or at the very least one support it with a little bit of their own money so to do that go. Www dot judaism unbound dot com slash. Donate and now. Let's turn to the topic of our conversation today. Which more or less is big philanthropy. Our guest today. danielle dir. Schlub is an artist and filmmaker based in brooklyn new york. Her great grandfather was a man named nathan cummings. If you've heard that name in the jewish world you probably know it from the nathan cummings foundation which is one of the leading jewish foundations devoted to social justice. Danielle durch lug has been a board member of the nathan cummings foundation and she came to our attention about a year ago when she published an article in tablet called the jewish one percent which was subtitled. It's time to talk openly about the comforts and toxicities avast wealth and power danielle dish. Lug is no longer involved directly with the family's philanthropy. She is still doing some speaking about philanthropy including with our recent guest. Lila corwin berman. The author of the recent book the american jewish philanthropic complex the history of a multibillion dollar institution but as i said and dish leg is primarily an artist and filmmaker. Her work has shown at venues including the jewish museum. Toronto shorts international film festival the invisible dog art center denny. Gallery the ackland art museum and the new york jewish film festival many of her films take footage from old movies and through animation and dialogue changes. Turn them into commentaries about the psychological and political complexities of american jewish wealth. Her short film. Eleanor illinois received a grant from the inaugural cycle of the n. y. a. Made a new york women's film tv and theatre fund. Daniel durch log has also been doing some really interesting work. Rethinking elements of jewish holidays and jewish holiday practices. She's had to amazing projects about sue coat. One called a wondering sucker and then this year responding to the pandemic her project is called sucker in place. She's invited a number of choreographers to develop ways to achieve some of the same experiences through body movement. Danielle dish log was selected as a fellow for the two thousand nine thousand nine hundred thousand twenty cycle of the new jewish culture fellowship. We're really thrilled to have this conversation. So danielle durch schlock welcome to judaism unbounded so great to have you thank you so much. I'm glad to be here. I remember. I think i was on a car ride with my family when your article came out about a year ago and somehow i remember sitting in the car and it popping up and saying oh this is going to be interesting and i read your article tablet and i was like. We're going to have to have you on the podcast because this is the conversation that that we want to have. And i mean there was a particular line where you say. The time demands that we as jews train our frank gays on our own discourse about ourselves and money and i was like yeah. Let's do that can create start by just asking a little bit about when you wrote that article. What what was it that you were trying to say. And what was it that you are trying to achieve. So i wrote the jewish one percent in part because the silence around jewish wealth is well earned an understandable but i think actually quite problematic obviously antisemitic conspiracy theories obsessively focus on kind of outlandish amounts of jewish affluence and influence. That's really the main trope of those hateful conspiracy theories and as a result you know our fear of even touching the subject is so seismic. Because we're really concerned that we will somehow validate those hateful fantasies that we just don't go there and to not go there on a subject as important has jews and money jews and capitalism And how those things intersect with. The state is really a loss especially for a community that is so dedicated to questioning too tough discourse and culturally and this is something i reference in the peace. Tim bluntness you know. One of the things. I love about us. Culturally is that we're willing to go there even when the subject is hard or tough or scary to give you a sense of how tender this area is just the title of the essay jewish one percent. Got me push back. I was told by some you know. Obviously there's a big generational gap here. This tends to be older audiences. Where i get this kind of feedback. That title itself is anti-semitic just acknowledging. The jewish wealth exists is problematic. I i have felt all of this for years. Why did i want to write this article now. In this era a cousin. Jews are disproportionately present in this administration in running the country. You know in the white house and the jews who are there tend to be from quote unquote very successful families. Right which is the language is in our community to mean rich there from wealthy jewish families most of them so i thought it was a really important moment to talk about. What has success wrought you know. Is this what success fundamentally should and does look like in our community for those who made it this time for me to have that conversation so i'm curious from your own experience before we get into what you have to say about it. I'm curious about when you try to provoke that conversation through this article. Was it provoked like. Did you feel that people started to have the conversation that you wanted them to have or do you feel like that conversation is still not being had. I think it's mostly not being. Had you know i did get surprisingly kind of enthused response from people. Sort of i'm. I'm turning forty this winter people sort of my age and younger. I got a lot of feedback. That was great. Want to have this conversation. It has felt off limits for so long. It shouldn't be. I got some pushback from older generations. But fundamentally i think the the bring up the essay is still are not really being dealt into in a public way. We are so trepidation about touching these topics which is partly why as visual artists. They're really where i make. My space might really write creatively. Go because there's so much to say. And it's so vitally important and it's really there's a couple things that arise from me in a title like the jewish one percent one is it only makes sense to people that title only works to people at and communicate something because we have a concept of the one percent generally in society. That's not jewish specific. And so i'm actually thinking a lot about the ways in which the generational divide you describe is sort of specific to judaism like we could talk about trauma and fear connected to the holocaust. There's all sorts of ways that like older generations of jews absolutely has some distinctive relationships to wealth that that are important to talk about. And i think that there's a broader conversation beyond just jus about how different generations do and don't talk about wealth like honestly. I think my parents and especially like my grandparents forgetting the jewish friends there non-jewish in general. It was kind of off the table to talk about wealth. I think what you hint at with people under forty or wherever. We're gonna draw the line. Like i think i don't know the millennial generation in quotes part of it. Whatever but like. I think we have recognized that the lack of talking about money isn't just some like benign choice. It has an impact when employers for example. Don't want people talking about the amount of money. They make that actually serves a purpose and leads to the employers being able to have a lot of control and and serve injustice in a variety of ways. And so i'd love to ask sort of about those two pieces like what about. This is a very specific set of jewish questions like the jewish relationship to wealth. And what about. This is actually a broader set of faux pas taboos that we have as a society about talking about money. It's a great couple of points i would say. All americans struggle with open discourse about class. Right it's not what we're famous for is talking successfully and in a nuanced fashion about money so clearly. Jewish americans were part of that culture. There's a lot of fear general around kind of going there. I wanted inactivity In a sort of arts group. That i was part of where we had to line up physically by class. So they said you know the poorest of the poor this side of the room the wealthiest of the wealthy opposite room. Everyone else figure it out and can you guess what everyone did probably went to the middle to start exactly right so i march off to wealth to people who were really strongly identified with and proud of having come from poverty. Go to the other side of the room and everyone else and this was probably a room full of like thirty forty people. They crowd in the middle and they are fighting it out over. How many. Tv's what kinds of tv's one car to kars any cars right. And so those of us on the extreme ends are watching. This really pained discourse as people try to place themselves and it takes a long time after we complete the exercise the people who lead it said to us in the uk. This takes ten minutes. Everyone knows where they are in the class. You talked about it. Their whole lives they line up and then we move on. That's a portrait. I think about a lot in terms of general. What your class discourse in this country most people in. Nfl middle class in the numbers. Don't support that as a cultural belief. And i think jews have those same confusions and concerns. What makes the jewish peace specific. And i would say specifically tender and pain is this tether to antisemitic. Conspiracy theory combined with our very well earned identity as victims. You know we combine identity. Honestly it is real and it makes so much sense. That doesn't mean that it isn't dangerous and harmful right When you identify strongly as in in a tribal way as victims self reflection on things like privilege and power become really painful and difficult right because it feels like if i'm acknowledging power if i'm acknowledging affluence somehow that removes this victimhood that i'm so identified with no my argument is it doesn't right is humans you can be wealthy and a victim you can have power in one arena and be scared in another but holding back kind of nuanced portrait especially of a group of people. Humans aren't super well equipped for that acknowledging privilege and talking about privilege also means inherently acknowledging an end referencing a set of responsibilities that we may not want but do exist. See i do think there are. Specific components of what is overall a pained discourse for the country. So i think there's at least two categories of people that would make the most sense to talk about in this conversation although feel free to say that there are more. And obviously this is part of a series that we're doing unfolding therapy. And so i wanna to talk about philanthropy later but before we do. I want to talk about some of the other. Potentially i guess you could call them like warping effects bad effects that come from way you're describing one. One category of people is the jewish one percent. And you started with that. These are people that are working in the administration and these are people that are doing other things that you kind of pokes fun at. In your films you know in terms of the desire to kind of be part of this sense of what the american went percents left to hear you talk about that in the problems that are going on there but then there's also what you just described the problem. Is that these people who i don't know if they're in the one percent that five hundred ten percent but the people who are battling over where they belong in the middle but they're really over on the wealthy end and when we talk about philanthropy one of the things i wanna talk about. That category of people is that they're not giving enough philanthropic because they don't see themselves as wealthy. I'm wondering if there are other effects that you think are also problematic among these people who actually are wealthy. But don't think of themselves as wealthy so i should say for those listening who haven't read the essay. I come from a wealthy jewish right. So i was raised in chicago. I'm very much in the one percent. My grandfather nathan started out as a peddler immigrants shoes door to door by the time his ended he was the founder and he'd ranchera league like a cake company for many years. He was a lot of leandra pissed in art collector so he really took that right from poverty into extreme wealth owning the identity of being wealthy. A sign of how scary it is is that people who are just unquestionably in that situation will really do incredible verbal gymnastics. Convince you otherwise. So i tell a story in the essay about being about six or seven years old being in a parking garage with my dad and asking him in my memory. It's the first time i did this. Are we rich and he said end. This is apparently. I've gotten so much feedback on because this language is fairly ubiquitous in well to do jewish families there was a pain long silence and then he said were comfortable and after that we got into his jaguar. That's pretty typical. Comfortable is the jewish. The jewish american. Serve you ms that we put on wealthy because comfort and it's a very fascinating choice. Actually because comfort has nothing to do with power the word comfort you know. What are you. Imagine your cozy on a sofa with a delicious blanket on top of you. That's comfort are associations with that. Have nothing to do with power. Obviously the conversation. That i'm looking to have with my art work. The essay that you guys are referencing is really a conversation. Fundamentally about power so for that for that jewish one percent. I think that's where the language can get on sort of tortured in an interesting fairly systematic ways. I've had a lot of friends. Come back and say people. I've never met before as well say. Comfortable is the word that i was told as well Very few of us no matter how much we have in the bank or how grand our home is or how many homes we have. Depending on the family of us actually sit. Psychologically in a place where we think. I'm wealthy and powerful for. I have so many friends who do not come from experience who are not any grew up nowhere near the one percent have never been one percent at a thing that we talk about a lot is their assumption which i understand that people from my background not only know that we are wealthy and powerful that we think about it consciously quite a lot an average person from that culture. I have to tell you. That's not true feeling empowered. I wish that was purely based on rational data. But it's not you. I have a dear friend who grew up in a situation very similar to mine. And she's never been charitable. She lives off. Trust like i do. She's a jew. Like i am and when we talk about why. That is what she references is. What an abusive home. She grew up as a kid. How destructive the emotional amex were sitting on that money as opposed to giving it away. The money she inherited from the people who really really severely harmed her. That's what psychologically has come to help her. Feel safe now. That's understandable. psychologically. It's political unfortunate. Not fantastic right but it's it's just one example of how someone sitting in the one percent is not walking around feeling powerful and wealthy which happens a lot. You wouldn't sit around the table and talk about being wealthy and powerful. I bought sounds obnoxious. And secondly if implies an awareness that a lotta people in that community frankly don't have. I am finding myself dying to talk about. I don't know like the second through. Twenty fifth percent so talked about the one percent the jewish one percent i so turning the lens inward for a second i was certainly not part of the one percent growing up. Was i close. I think probably. I think if i were in that room i like i would venture a guess that in the grand scheme. Maybe i'm the ten percent even like were comfortable. you know. We lived on a street in the milwaukee area that was like known as being like a wealthy street like lake. Drive on the We lived in a hundred year old house. We only lived in part of the house. And i always told people that i was very quick to say. Oh duplex and so. We only live in the top half of the house. 'cause i 'cause like i was hyper aware that that the term lake drive saying i lived on lake drive was instantly a signifier that i that i was very wealthy and i didn't want to be seen as that But i look. I grew up going to a private school from age. Four through high school with all of the tuition's of private school. It's and honestly. I was immersed in a culture not necessarily of the one percent of milwaukee. Although some of that i was immersed in a culture with a lot other jews who were certainly in the second through ten or twenty percent and i think honestly if we were to look around jewish communities like i talk constantly i lived in providence rhode island all of the quote unquote jewish areas are also like the wealthy areas of of our towns and like you said like we don't say that because we are we are terrified for good reasons about what that could mean to people and how that could be interpreted and how it could be weaponized but i think that i want a name that it's not just a one percent because i think so often for people that are not quite the one percent but you know comfortable wealthy. There's a deflection maneuver that we take at where we say. This is a conversation not about me. It's about that person. I know who's a little who's adjacent to me and a little wealthier but i think this is about us and our communities have been constructed in ways. That assume that we're kind of in that second twenty-fifth percents i'm making up numbers. But they assume a level of wealth and we could go to like. How are we could go to wear. Synagogues are located and where they're not located we could talk about. Why flight connector that we could. There's a million ways in which this has all been embedded in our jewish communities. And so i guess i'd ask you as an outsider to that second to twenty percent for you like you're in the one percent like how would you apply some of this to that next bracket of jewish wealth. I so appreciate that question part of why it's important. I think to me that. I get to make this work that i get to talk in my art and in my other endeavors about these topics around class in silence is because i am the extreme right. So i'll bet part of my what makes it. I think interesting. Potentially hopefully for me to engage. Because i'm from the heart of the class action that is generally the most silent about these topics but also hopefully what i hope happens is by me opening up this discourse from the extreme position of being from a jewish on percent. Hopefully it also starts to open up the. Let's say two to twenty five percent that's the bracket works using today and i will say this is a funniest response to you. What comes up for me in college. I dated a bunch of guys like you who were from that bracket who had gone to a day school or private school one of the first blueprints i had in college he was a jew and he was from a comfortable family within the bracket that you're describing and hugh really loved citing me as the wealthy one in relationship and i remember some very comical moments like him giving me a speech about that in a rather righteous kind of way at the end of that speech me saying you know where your family going for winter break. And he would say. We're skiing in zurich to write clearly. Yes was there a difference between his class. Crackdown in mind absolutely undeniable. I'm not in any way trying to pretend otherwise but the idea that someone who goes to harvard and does not be financial assistance and is heading zurich to ski for family vacation. Time the idea that for him. My experience is deeply removed from his. That's a fantasy a fantasy. It's an understandable one. But i think your points important this silence in our particular tribe around wealth around the details of that wealth around the fact that we have done disproportionately well in capitalism It doesn't just sit squarely in my community in those who grew up with the most. Actually there's a people are interested in this topic. There's a few books that. I'm sure i'll be talking about today but one that that really started. This journey for me is called capitalism in the jews by jerry muller and he talks about this this theory which i think is really interesting. That anti-semitism one way to look at it is that it is really about the community's relationship that not the jewish community but a non jewish communities relationship to capitalism because jews have been so kind of on congealed pressed against this idea of capitalism until kind of synonymous with it that is capitalism sort of wanes in dozen in terms of its popularity anti-semitism rises in all. I think it's a really interesting perspective on anti-semitism and if he's right it helps to under us to understand why folks in the to twenty. Five percent are as hesitant as the one percent right because that conflation of our community with capitalism means that owning capitalism whether it's fair or not. It's our choice. It's the thing that we'd been sort of assigned to that means that waiting into those waters becomes really tricky especially in a political mom or capitalism is less popular or is deemed more destructive because we are sort of completed with that phenomena. One thing to point out. I think this is what we're saying. But that in that two to twenty five percent. I i think we would point out like that's not we're not talking about their. That's the top twenty five percent of jews. I think we're talking about that. The majority of jews in america are in the twenty five percent of people in america in terms of wealth. That now. that doesn't mean that we should not talk about the jews and there are many who are not in the top twenty five percent but at least for the the very very many jews who are in the top twenty five percent. The question is what would change if they started to think of themselves as essentially pretty wealthy the world in which we spend most of our time in synagogue. Kind of praying to god to help us out. We can't we're we're such the victims of other people's and of nature and all that it it it seems wrong. It feels wrong to me it. It doesn't inspire me as opposed to a service where we might say you know. How could we step up to the responsibility. That we used to imagine that god had so i i wonder about a potential way of reimagining jewish life in jewish rituals where we kind of understand and i've said this many times on the podcast that the character in our stories that we ought to think of ourselves as living in the world of. I want to be careful not to say too much here. I'm not saying that we're god or that. We're like god. But i'm saying that the character in our stories who's the powerful one who's being asked by other people to think about the impact of their own actions that's god and so if we failed to think about god in our stories as somehow relevant to us and we can only identify with the poor victims. Then it feels like our judaism becomes dysfunctional and that sort of part one and then and then partout is really you know and then what are. The warping effects of that in terms of how people are living. You know as you see it right. I mean like i i in other words that thinking about some of your your art and your your film work it makes me think about how the the natural is to kind of start acting like the wealthy folks but not acknowledged that to yourself or others and nevertheless to continue to go through your jewish ritual life in a way that seems increasingly disconnected from anything that matters to the way that you conduct your life but nevertheless you still feel good about it because you're not breaking the chain of tradition or something along those lines. I wanna take that question and mary it first of all. Let's just take one tiny aspect. Jewish ritual. Like which. I happen to know that you and i are both interested. In which is the idea refusing right welcoming the stranger. Think about the amazing shift. That happens if you're welcoming the stranger from an identity of a poor victim verses you're welcoming the stranger from having identity of luck and trim which that's different stranger no right and how you think about the job of welcoming changes dramatically as well if you are coming from a place of understanding owning that you have power that you have privileged that you have things that are very lucky right. so that's just one tiny component of jewish life but think about the ripple effect if that really changes in the way. I think the kind of limp deadening sort of result that you're describing jewish ritual life where we only identify from this place. I think it has so much to do with What mainstream jewish institutions consider frustrating levels of sort of younger disaffection. Why would you want to. I remember years and years ago I'm no longer involved very much at all in the jewish world. But i was for many years. I remember i used to sit behind one way. Glass and watch young jews on be sort of interviewed in these think-tank groups about why it mattered. To be you and in a lot of those rooms they're kind of like a board pause and then someone in a very obligatory kind of voice would say. The holocaust always had that intone h like like the question. The holocaust like i guess you know when we reduce jewishness when we reduced jewish life shirley to our victimhood there is real contemporary data to support that. I am in no way denying. The anti-semitism is real and on the rise and it scares me absolutely. But i don't want my jewish practice to be dictated solely by the people who despise us in the same way that i don't want our discourse about ourselves including matters of class to be dictated by the people who hate us you. Frankly i'm not willing to give them that power. I don't want it to overwhelm my ritual. life. I don't want to overwhelm our public discourse about ourselves which when we say when someone says even the phrase the jewish one percent is anti-semitic would i hear them saying is they want jewish life or even if they don't want they are prepared to accept a jewish life that is predominantly dictated by the people who dislike us the most. That's unacceptable to me. So i'd love to talk a little bit about your heart. I watched a number of the short films that you've created and provocative that's a good word to use for them and arts arts a fascinating thing right because i think in certain ways with like this that are challenging issues like wealth and she was like jewish wealth. There's a way in which creating a film about it in some ways feels like easier and softer than like broadcasting an article with the title jewish one percent on one level on another level watching some of your short films. It's like really stark. And you see statically. Kind of wealth and associations with jewishness watched one of them where one after the other you have. Characters named kohen and levi unlike all of the most traditionally associated jewish names. And they're all in this ornate ballroom with lots and lots of lake villa l- signifier of wealth. You know even though. I like get the argument. You're making the point you're making. It's like ooh a part of me is like squirming around. Is this right. is this comfortable. Oh that's different use of comfortable like this okay. So i'd love to hear like the director's cut a little bit. Like what were you doing with these short films. I mean since many of our listeners haven't watched all of them if you could describe them a little put them in our show notes on the website so people can watch them but like what were you looking to do with those and to the extent you have thoughts on this like what can art do on issues conversations of jewish wealth that like focus groups articles. Words can't necessarily do so. I'll start by a little of a description so the pieces that you watched are from my series called bounty which explores the political psychological complexities of american jewish wealth. And one of the really primal kind of ideas in that series started animating idea. Is this idea of american jewish wealth really as a dedicated form of lost drag. You know that is very much esthetically and culturally true of my experience growing up in jewish wealth and in order to kind of mirror bat in film ick way the way i create these pieces that you've watched very short there between like one in five minutes long generally is i as sort of scouring film history for depictions of dynastic family wealth which are almost never jewish in cinematic history despite the fact that cinema itself is very much an invention of wealthy jewish families. That's another topic for perhaps another day but using animation and voice actors and editing technics reconfigure these stories into one's about jewish wealth so to give an example. I'm one of the pieces i sent. You is called the age of less quits and it is my swore minute. Version of martin scorsese's age of innocence. And it's also very much bow a kind of miserable family dynamic that is combined with tremendous wealth and power. Because that's attention that i'm really interested in. I think our cultural understanding about well. How wealth connects your doesn't connect to happiness is really misguided you know in my experience wealth has everything to do with comfort. Physical comfort has everything to do with power and nothing to do with happiness. So there's a really interesting tension right now in jewish cultural production that i am waiting in two in a major way which connects to our earlier discussion about lampy so in the nineteen ninety s. I'm sure a lot of your listeners. Know this the continuity narrative narrative really takes over in jewish institutional life and i define the continuity narrative as sort of trying to get war jews to have sex with other jews to make new juice. Right that's really what it is. It's a euphemism for more more juice. Police right so when that kind of takes over in the nineteen nineties as you can imagine. It has huge implications for philanthropy and the brilliant and wonderful cohen. Berman was just on your show whose new book the american jewish on top of complex. Everyone should read. It is so good She talks about this right as flannery really shifts from his idea of helping jews with their basic needs jewish immigrants and refugees food and shelter etc to becoming about trying to shift. How we internally feel about jewishness right because of this terror of sort of intermarriage and birth rates meaning that we're not going to continue as a tribe when that happens as you can imagine the implications for jewish cultural production or huge if we are now solely almost solely focused on trying to get as many jews as possible and creating endeavors that really allow for that to happen. Any cultural production that pushes back on jewish norms or has critical content about jewish life or has things to save that are neither about our victimhood or about our success. Those are the two poles of kind of acceptable public jewish content and cultural production. Anything in between those polls feels dangerous. Because it's not necessarily going to lead in in clear slick ways to the kind of baby production. That a lot of these major philanthropies are really gunning for part of why i get to make critical work of jewish. Life is because i'm not dependent on funding and if i was a visual artist wanting to cover these seem topics no one would fund me. It's such a shame because you're exactly right. Artists a space where we can have these kinds of conversations. In a way that feels vivid and lived and visceral and in some ways. I think permits space for younger. Jews who are maybe more interested or connected to their identity as cultural consumers or cultural makers than they are to like a synagogue right. It gives them a pathway and so denying that pathway because our funding complex is so terrified and has so many red lines about what is culturally acceptable in jewish cultural output. It's a really big loss opportunity. I'm very aware that. If i was in a any other kind of class situation than my own i couldn't make this work impossible. And that's a very damning portrait. i would say of our giving culture that's fascinating and it's also fascinating in that. I think it's the most dysfunctional thing in the world. Meaning that the reason why people would be attracted. I think to judaism or any kind of cultures because it's alive because it's fun part of what makes it fun is that it's it pokes fun at itself. It's self critical. It's striving for something. It's saying that we haven't achieved yet if we've achieved yet then it becomes boring so a world in which like we haven't yet met our. Our potential is actually. I think something that would attract young people so if your goal is to attract young people almost by definition you need to put in that kind of tension in that element and artists would be the kind of people you'd want to recruit and i get why it's also threatening. I guess my question is what do we do about it. Because i always think about how a lot of times in the after the destruction of the second temple and the done of rabbinic judaism like i think. It's helpful to see those early rabbis. As as artists they were reshaping judaism. Judaism was the material of their art. Judaism was the paint that they were using to basically use the paints that had once painted a temple. And now they're taking the saints and they were painting a new picture which turned out to be rabbinic. Judaism it's very different and yet very similar in in many ways and if we were hoping that something like that would happen today. Well we could look back at some of those early rabbis and we could see that a lot of them were from family. Wealth you know. A lot of them were independently wealthy. A lot of them had another job. That's why we have rabbis sandal maker rabbi weaver some of the greatest rabbi. Yeah the great story in the talmud about how the very very wealthy family wealth. Rabbi gamliel goes over to the house of the of the charcoal maker rabbi joshua who is also one of the greatest rabbis and he's shocked to see that he has a charcoal maker he says. Why are you making charcoal and rabbi joshua says to him if you have to ask me a question like that you shouldn't be in charge you know basically you don't you don't understand that your faculty can't afford living based on what you're paying right and so i guess the question is as somebody who knows the world of philanthropy from the inside as well. What do you think a possible. Solution is meaning. Should we just kind of say second up the reality. Is that in a time like this. This is not a time where philanthropy is going to solve this problem. This is this is a problem that is going to be solved by people who are just so passionate that they're willing to do it as a passion and if that means they have to have another job or if that means they have to be a jewish professional you know in in the daytime. They teach bar mitzvah lessons night. They go crazy you know. Then that's that's okay too. Or is there some possibility to imagine something like a jewish medici on the one hand i would say. In general jewish be really has failed to meet this basic kind of metric of funding things that are dynamic and and push back on accepted in ones and all that stuff simultaneously. And by the way i would also say having been no longer active in the jewish landfill world but i was part of my family foundation. I sat at table for eighteen years. And i would say the you from that insider view. I do not have a ton of optimism that jewish philanthropy is going to sort of wake up and think. Oh this is actually such an important meaningful way to create real discourse with young jews who might not come in through the normal channels. you know. it's so funny right. The continuity actually cuts that all in this case content which asserts itself as a survival. I would say turns off so many juicy for so many reasons. That fear the core of that discourse and and i know you guys recently finished up your your feminists sort of a section of shows but you know any jewish idea that reduces female contribution to jewish live to ovarian output simply should not be unacceptable. It's disgusting actually. So you know for continuity to sort of overwhelm. This is so ironic and such a shame. I don't have a ton of optimism. That jewish planter b is going to wake up to sort of need an important mandate to shift that being said. I am very lucky this year to be part of the new jewish culture fellowship which comes with a small amount of funding and my funding. I donate your. I donate any funding that comes to be professionally because it simply feels totally inappropriate for me personally financially benefit. I'm there for the ideas. The community that. I'm there for all the other reasons not the money. So i donate my but that being said that is funded by federation much to my own surprise right and the members in this group myself talking about jewish. Well there's someone in this group who makes anti-zionist musical theater right. These are not traditional ideas around cultural output that you would expect to have jewish funds so why is federation funding us. Frankly real honest answer is i. Don't have a clue. My guess. And this is a very optimistic guess. Is that there some understanding that if you really want to engage my generation and younger you have to allow artists to be artists. We reach those communities. Because we're making stuff that's telling the truth even when it's hard if you're going to have a jewish life that is based on being alive and not just not dead. Those are two different categories. If you want to jewish life that is truly based on being alive alive as a community and not just not dead. You can't erase cultural output smart difficult tough cultural output. it's impossible so i hope that awareness is growing. This is obviously a tiny endeavour for federation. They probably ten grand a year on this. I wouldn't say it's a major shift but just seeing it even exists especially when places like six points and other really exciting jewish arts opportunities simply don't have funding anymore Talks about a little bit. We'll even her book haven't gotten that section yet. I'm she does a lot of these endeavors at one time. Funded have just dissolved. Because they didn't lead to jewish babies as directly or clearly as something like birthright. There is a beautiful ss. That came out this year. By maya it. A really incredible thinker and writer called cottage an unborn avant-garde that. I can't recommend enough where she really talks about. You know what we're talking about here right like where. Where did the jewish funding go for. Art is it mostly does not exist. So i'm not super optimistic that it will but this one thing obama part of has made me wonder you. Are we starting to shift a little bit. I hope so. I'm curious from your experience in the world of philanthropy. Is there a way to make the case that even if we accept your goal of continuity the best way to achieve it is through putting some space into it right meaning so so something like that. Is there a way to make the case that says. Well we accept. We can accept your goal but still nevertheless say you're really missing out by not having art not having an avant-garde but it also connects to the other question that i wanted to raise at some point. Which is the question of an. It's eluded to in your article where you talk about how folks and foundations. I think Sir think of themselves as when they're giving five percent a year which is what the law requires and really they could. They could give so much more. It reminds me of. It's trying to explain to my kids recently. About roy where i live is. There's a question on the table about changing a flat tax to a progressive tax. And they were trying to ask you. Why is that right geno. Everybody pay the same percent. You know nice head. Well i think the way to think about it is how much is left after you pay that percent and in the case of somebody like jeff bezos. Who has you know two hundred million dollars. Even though he sorry two hundred billion dollars even if he pays ten percent he still has one hundred ninety billion left. Whereas you know somebody who makes a hundred eighty billion you you you you you messed. He's got a lot of money left. You made a ten billion dollar mistake din ten billion here in there but whatever the number is he still has so much left that the fact that he gave that even though it's billions and billions of dollars didn't make much difference whereas somebody who's poor and only you know let's a has twenty thousand dollars if they give to only have eighteen thousand dollars left trying to kind of explain it to them and i think there's something more or less right but in that explanation but again it comes down to the psychology of of when you feel that you're not really so wealthy and and again there's the one percent here but then there's also that twenty five percent that i'm talking about because you know if you think about tithing how many people out there who are making a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year we're not talking about the one percent but we're talking about the twenty five percent. How many of them are really giving twenty thousand dollars a year in jared in philanthropic giving i. I don't think very many and it's because they you know you start writing the checks and you feel like i. I can't afford that and so the question is is there a way to convince everybody. I'm talking about the one percent and the twenty five percent that there's actually a moral imperative to give away that money. It doesn't belong to you. And again i go back to how you talked about your your grandfather your great grandfather and how he was rarely talked about as lucky and of course he was. You know i would read something recently about james and how he absolutely is an amazing basketball player but he is so lucky that he happens to be born in a country. That's obsessed with basketball at the time when it's most obsessed with basketball. He didn't do any of that. All he did was be really good at basketball. So sure envy born six foot eight and that born six grow today but not to take anything away from him. He's great at basketball but he is so lucky. That basketball is something that people are willing to pay for it. And that's true of jeff bezos. Everybody who has any success whether it's the greatest successor moderate success. There's so much luck involved. In therefore i understand my understanding of the idea of tithing and sacrifice is fundamentally to say. None of it belongs to me. I'm lucky that i get any of this. And all god is asking of me is to give ten percent of it away. The question is do you have a sense of how to reframe the way that people think about this at every level. Well here's why. I by no means am trying to take a big poop on your optimism. I love optimism. I believe it optimism. I would optimistic person. But i'll tell you why i'm suspicious about this working. Currently why i left the sector. I left for a lot of reasons But but one of them is you know there was a really big push for this when i was in my early twenties To sort of advance the argument the you just put forth. Which is you know if you really care about continuity if you really care about younger jews being engaged in a way that feels alive and personal and deep to them. Culture is the way to do that. We saw a ton of funded endeavor. Start from that narrative shift. We saw things like six points fellowship. Just no longer with us of blessed memory. We saw things like he magazine. It didn't work and not saying it didn't work to engage jews in fact a lot of the jewish cultural of makers and consider my peers. We reference that stuff all the time it mattered to us. But the sort of sheldon adelson model for lack of a better phrase right Which is like no no forget all of that. What really matters is jews who agree with my politics having sex with other jews who feel the same way in making new jews together that just one out so we've tried this in the film profit sector. I thought it produced great stuff in amongst my peers. We deeply cared about that stuff. But frankly just wasn't as satisfying to those funders. As hearing x number of people met on this birthright trip they made love and now x number of jewish babies exists who didn't exist before that's a much more tangible easy kind of You can put your hands around it. And i also think it's important to say on because we've we've touched on here a little bit but if you're really going to open the doors for funding jewish cultural production that is honest and tough about where jews my age and younger are. You're gonna get sentiment about israel at the film. Profit sector cannot enroll not accept the truth so in less that ceases to be a red line. Good luck and i have not seen any signal that is going to cease to me a red line anytime soon. And for cultural makers like myself when that red line is in the room. We no longer want to be in the room. Even if we don't agree with the person who saying anti-zionist things we want to jewish life where everyone gets to speak and say what is true for them you know. I spend a lot of years in that sector. And i'm not like lila corwin berman. I'm not a historian. I'm not an academic. But what i am. Something of an expert on is what it feels like to sit at one of those board tables for two days of meetings and make a decision as a family with staff in the room as well in my experience about where the money's going to go and how much of it we're going to give away and you know i have no interest in telling on my family members. I love them. But i'm more than happy to tell on myself. And this is what. I'll tell you about me and that see. I was so seduced by ego games so seduced. Imagine sitting with your relatives at a big long board table. I talked about this in. The essay communicates and importance right. I i said at that table when i was fifteen. Imagine being fifteen years old and you're sitting at the equivalent of king arthur's table and the some of the most important incredible thinkers on the topics. Your family cares about or coming into this room and not only giving you the enormous benefit of their wisdom their knowledge but they are telling you for hours upon hours at a time about how fabulous you are an all the wonderful things you're funding wouldn't exist without you and that really fundamentally the country would be worse off. If it wasn't for your family this might feel like it doesn't relate to your question but here's how does. Why should that sector change. Where does the impetus come from. You know what's really interesting about the film profit conferences that i used to attend the board meetings that i used to go to is that they copy huge parts of what i would call professional ritual. You wear a nice outfit. You sit at a table. You've got a computer in front of you're taking notes. You're listening to speakers. You're brainstorming ideas. All of that kind of mirrors traditional professional space with the really meaningful exception. That no one ever tells you you're doing a bad job about anything so when you're talking about these changes that you hope for and i hope for as well you know. It's hard to be optimistic about them in the philanthropic sector because i know how complete and effortless that seduction is. I left the sector. Because i can't handle it. I remember this so well. I would be like hi. You've just saved the everyone told you you did. You know i really don was raised. My hand to say yes to the docket are very diligent and brilliant staff at actually produced and worked on for months but the optics of the rule made it feel like myself and my relatives were the ones who admitted happen which is entirely untrue and walk out on the tenth avenue and i would think wow thank god. Our family exists so embarrassing mortifying typical sector. So you know it's just. It's like moving an enormous boulder with no self reflection if the boulder doesn't know it's a boulder wanna look at itself as a boulder. It's hard that sector is just losing with self-congratulation all of these components come together to create a sector. That i think is really hard to move and really has a culture of non reflection close really open floor other any directions. That we haven't quite touchdown that you want to revisit. What are some last thoughts for us. As we head after whatever's next what should we leave this episode thinking about when it comes to do his philanthropy the jewish world. More broadly end. You know the broader will be introduced to question. I get a fair amount. Is you know why even talk about jews separately in this way because the hotel products space has this is by no means particular to jews at all. I think the thing that makes both jewish wealth and jewish philosophy flan therapy singular in a way that is potentially really interesting is about that combination of victimhood empower. You if you come from a major giving on piscopo alien family i'm guessing. Victimhood is not a big part of your narratives right. It's been a long time since christians were in trouble in that fundamental way real on time. So it's no longer sort of a part of how you think about yourselves. Skippers for juice. It is absolutely a center of how we think about ourselves as giving as givers in the philanthropic space and that righteous chosen miss. This is obviously a very particular definition of chosen. This that i'm employing for this argument you know that is what denies the opportunity in the mandate for serious self analysis as a sector. Because why would you need that when you are clearly the good guy. And what makes you the good guy because you've historically and currently also are in trouble right. It makes so much sense. It's so logical emotional sense. Unfortunately it has ramifacations that are really troubling and potentially harmful right and holding all of that simultaneously can be challenging and also who wants you given the choice as lantis or is a jew. It's totally understandable that we tend to think we're comfortably. I'm the one who's been victimized as opposed to. I'm the one who's sitting in a see that could potentially victimize others because of systemic equity. That's a tougher thought. It's not as satisfying so i. You know you. You cited anger Critique of of the space. I think part of what makes lila's such force and hopefully also i hope what makes my pieces at times resonate because is that both sets of work acknowledged jewish suffering care about jewish suffering But then moved past back toward what we want for jewish life right and anything that doesn't acknowledge jewish suffering is personally think is dead in the water because it's you're asking people to deny a huge part of their identity. Neither history in their their current. Reality i will say you know. I don't know if you guys are familiar with her work. But do you know anything about who miata recommend her for you guys because i gave a talk with her this year. She is one of the world's first ultra-orthodox female tenured academics and her specialty is haredi poverty so we gave a talk where i should my work about american jewish well. She shared her work about haredi poverty. And what was fascinating. The through line that we really saw in our presentations is that both communities exist and and move under an assumption of exceptionalism specialness. So it's not only tethered to the very wealthy these. These narratives around being exceptional actually have harmful outcomes across class. Realities in the jewish world. You know what unraveling chosen this. I think in a lot of ways is going to be one of essential questions for my generation than younger. What does that mean when we are sitting on so much power and access as american jews in this time. And how do we live with that. And cope alongside rising anti-semitism. That's going to be a major point of sort of focus as we move forward. Thank you so much really excited to open this up further in the future. And thanks for what you brought today. Thank you so much for having me guys really appreciate it and thanks so much to all of you out there for listening. 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