I've led thirteen Birthright Israel trips in the past few years, and I get asked a lot of questions about Judaism, Jewish history, philosophy, culture, traditions, current events, and modern Israel -- you name it. I realized that many of my trip participants feel like they can't fully participate in Jewish life without basic knowledge. At the same time, their Birthright experience has left them really wanting to know more about their Jewish heritage. But with only ten days on Birthright, there isn't enough time to answer everyone's question in a careful, considered way. And lack of knowledge shouldn't be a barrier to developing a meaningful connection to Judaism.
Jew Oughta Know is my effort to answer every single question I've ever been asked. Starting thousands of years ago at the beginning of the Jewish story, I design each episode around something that I think Jews in their 20s and 30s -- or any age! -- really ought to know. I try to both relate the "Jewish 101" for those who lack the basics, while also going just a bit beyond the major headlines to explain our history at a deeper level.
The great advantage of Jewish history is that there is an endless list of things to talk about. The downside is that there is an endless list of things to talk about. My plan is to slowly move chronologically through the Jewish narrative, relating the stories of the Bible and the earlier history, and gradually working my way up to the present -- and, if I ever get there, to turn around and start from the beginning again. I'll also pause the story here and there to discuss current events or another relevant topic or to share a personal story.
I currently manage Birthright Israel programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, and hold a Joint Masters Degree in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University. I earned my BA in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. I previously served as a senior congressional aide to a U.S. Member of Congress in Washington, D.C., drafting legislation, writing speeches, and advising on foreign national affairs. A Bay Area native, I like the outdoors, playing guitar, and traveling.
© Jason Harris 2017