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Hi, I’m Jesse Paikin. I’m an educator, designer, facilitator, and rabbi. I teach internationally, with a focus on Jewish Spirituality, Talmud, and experiential education. My strategic and consulting work involves curricular design, staff training & culture, and branding & communications strategy.

Right now, you can find me on the short-form explainer podcast, Shoot!, which I created and produced. It answers one big Jewish question each episode, with the untold stories behind the questions. My writing and work have also been featured in Maclean’s, Fast Company, Jewschool, Sh’ma, My Jewish Learning, and Times of Israel.

Want to work together?

Let’s talk! I’m available for teaching engagements, design projects, curricular development, and consulting in staff training & culture

Episode #5: Why is Judaism Called Judaism? Shoot!

When a student asked about the nature of Judaism – about why it’s called Judaism – the stakes, for her, had suddenly grown very high. The Washington Post had recently published an article with the provocative headline: “Is Judaism an ethnicity? A race? A nationality? Trump signs an order and provokes an identity crisis,” and people began asking: “if other people who aren’t even Jewish are going to tell us about the very nature of Judaism, we should probably know ourselves.” To answer the questions: "Is Judaism an ethnicity?" and "Is Judaism a nationality?" we uncover the roots of why Judaism is called that, and what it means for our understanding of the very nature of Jewishness. We also learn about what Life of Pi can teach us about how to think about truth, history, and facts, and why memory is what makes Jewish stories good. Read a transcript of this episode.  Credits Shoot! is written, hosted, and produced by Jesse Paikin. You can always say hi, share your thoughts, or ask your own questions at hello@shootpodcast.com  All audio credits for this episode can be found on our website. Shoot! is supported in part by a grant from the Hadar Institute.
  1. Episode #5: Why is Judaism Called Judaism?
  2. Episode #4: What's a Jewish Response to Crisis?
  3. Episode #3: Is Judaism a Religion? (Part II)
  4. Episode #2: Is Judaism a Religion? (Part I)
  5. Episode # 1: The 1,200 Year Old Question

From my blog…

What I’ve Learned from my Anxiety & Staying Awake until 2:30 am

The game goes like this: since I know that every night, mostly without fail, I will wake up – somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 am in a cold sweat of anxiety and generalized fear fuelled by whatever chemical imbalance or chromosomal abnormality or inherited trauma of which I am the beneficiary – if I can make it to 2:00 am or so, I might be able to head off the exasperating jolt of awaking, and stay blissfully unconscious until the morning. The alternative means opening my eyes, bathed in the red light of my clock-radio and the irrational fear of both everything and nothing in particular.

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May You Always Be Surprised

We know that each and every human being on the face of the earth is ultimately the same. We know this.

We are fashioned in the image of our Creator, in the tzelem Elohim, as our tradition teaches. And that therefore we are infinitely valuable.

There is no way to assess the value of a human soul. You are worth more than any number you could possibly conceive of.

I am not looking for a kumbaya message to share in a troubling time…

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Can We Really Be Comforted Right Now?

What does it mean to be turning to words of comfort right now? To say nachamu, nachamu? To be honest – I don’t know if I buy it. While life locally is slowly returning, that is not the whole story. We may be entering a period of consolation, but for many, it’s still the bein hameitzarim – the dire straits.

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