Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies Releases Podcast Series on Israel and Jewish Identity in the Age of COVID

May 30, 2020

In reaction to UC Berkeley’s closure and shelter-in-place policies, the Berkeley Institute rapidly shifted online and launched a live podcast series. The public release of the full recorded Spring 2020 season comes right in time for summer!

Berkeley, CA – June 2020 – Last week, the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies released its Podcast Series on Israel and Jewish Identity in the Age of COVID.

The 14-episode series includes interviews with experts on topics related to Israel and the novel coronavirus through different lenses – political developments, economic impacts, technology and surveillance, trauma and resilience – as well as lessons from Jewish tradition and the virus’ impact on Jewish communal life. The full season is available online here.

“As a student navigating this unprecedented moment of uncertainty, it has been so valuable to have a virtual community to connect with. The podcast series gave me an avenue to witness nuanced and thought-provoking discussions from experts around the world on topics I deeply care about,” shared Alexa Fosdick, a senior at UC Berkeley.

The first episode of the Podcast on Israel and Jewish Identity in the Age of COVID aired on March 17th, just two days after the campus closure due to California’s Shelter-In-Place policy. From the first days of quarantine until the end of the Spring term, the Berkeley Institute was hard at work pivoting to virtual programming models and hosted live podcast episodes twice a week. Guest experts from around the globe joined virtually via Zoom, and students and faculty attended live for lectures and interactive Q&A.

Maya Shemtov, the Assistant Director of Student Programs at the Berkeley Institute who initiated the project, says the goals of this initiative were twofold:

“We were looking for a way to continue our engagement, and actually ramp it up. We wanted to provide more points of connection for our students, alumni and campus community – to engage in critical thinking and academic thought – and to stay connected in this time of global crisis,” she said.

The series provided a real-time learning experience, analyzing the developments of COVID’s impacts on Israel and on Jewish life as the world navigated a global crisis. For example, Berkeley Institute Visiting Prof. Roy Peled shared updates on Israel’s election process as breaking news came out about what he called a ‘constitutional crisis’ in the early days of the global shut-down. Other episodes engaged on other timely topics including political trauma and national resilience, the impact of Holocaust Museums on our collective memories, and breakthroughs in human evolution.

While the next few months hold many unknowns, the Institute will continue to provide virtual engagement on topics in Jewish and Israel studies. The next installment of this Berkeley Institute’s podcast programming will be released in August 2020.