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Founded in 2002, Reboot engages and inspires young, Jewishly-unconnected cultural creatives, innovators and thought-leaders who, through their candid and introspective conversations and collaboration, generate projects that impact both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. 

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Filtering by Category: Rebooter Spotlight

October Rebooter Spotlight: Jessy Tolkan

Shane Hankins

Jessy Tolkan is the head of labs & executive director of Here Now at Purpose, a creative campaign agency headquartered in New York City. Day-to-day, she helps build cutting edge campaign labs of innovation to solve some of the world's biggest problems ranging from climate change to the refugee crisis. Currently, Purpose Labs is all about defeating Trump with a Super PAC effort entitled, Not Who We Are. Jessy is co-founder of Youth Climate Movement in the United States and former executive director of Citizen Engagement Lab. Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 100 “agents of change” in America in 2008.

City: New York City & Washington, DC (Wisconsinite for LIFE)

Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

I get to spend my days trying to change the world. From combatting climate change, to supporting an anti-Trump Super Pac this election cycle, to working on the refugee crisis - I'm literally in the business of trying to mobilize everyday people to transform the world around them. In retrospect, I think I learned the values of "Tikkun Olam" at a really early age at Jewish summer camp and it just stuck with me in a pretty proud way.

Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

I have been totally blessed with the greatest community of friends I could have ever imagined. My balance in life is ensuring time for awesome meals in my two cities of DC and NY, hosting dinner parties, and making sure that when all is said and done, I'm willing and able at the drop of a hat to be there as much, if not more for those I love, than for the causes and work that I also love.

What’s your favorite bagel topping?

Not so Jewish on this one, I LOVE a toasted bagel with butter.

What has been your most impactful Jew-ish experience?

No question, 13 epic years at Camp Interlaken JCC, and of course two unforgettable weekends on the mountain at Reboot, the closest I've come to feeling that spirit of the Machaneh since my last summer at camp in 2000.

How has Reboot helped shaped your Jewish identity in new ways?

Reboot has breathed new life in how I get to show up as a Jew in my everyday life. It’s the new friendships I've made that give me opportunity to discuss being a Jew more regularly, it’s the way I proudly incorporate being a Jew into my work more visibly than I had before, and it’s my deeper appreciation for what a creative, multi-disciplinary, community of people we are as Jews.

What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

Curb your Enthusiasm would've been my answer for years, but there's just no question that Transparent has taken the spot as my #1 all time favorite and most beautiful form of art celebrating our people and culture.

If you could unplug and spend time with one Jewish/Jew-ish person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I have to go full political nerd on this one. I think I'd have to say, the former (and soon-to-be) Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold. He's been an inspiration for me throughout my political life and went out on a limb and endorsed me for the Madison City Council when I was only 19 years old. He is running one hell of a political comeback fight to rejoin the Senate this Fall. We'd sit on the terrace in Madison, drink a beer, and plot the Progressive takeover of America.

How do you think Judaism is evolving in today’s world?

I think Judaism is evolving in beautiful and kind of sad ways at the same time. We are a people and community changing with the times, more accepting and welcoming of all types of people, families, and ideas, and at the same time - our numbers, our rates of total non-affiliation worry me. We've for so long had a quite beautiful outsized influence on culture, innovation, politics, and more...we are a people that has endured so much - I want and hope we evolve forever, and never cease to be the small and mighty people we are.

What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Family. Tradition. Values. History. Strength. Stamina.


The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  

September Rebooter Spotlight: Yuval Sharon

Shane Hankins

Described by The Hollywood Reporter as "LA's avant-garde opera darling," Yuval Sharon has been creating an unconventional body of work that seeks to expand the operatic form. He founded and serves as Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles, directing and producing the company’s acclaimed world premieres of Hopscotch, Crescent City, and Invisible Cities. His productions have been described as “ingenious” (New York Times), “virtuosic” (Opernwelt), “dizzyingly spectacular” (New York Magazine), and “staggering” (Opera News). Yuval begins a three-year residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with a new performance installation called Nimbus in Disney Hall on October 1.

City: Los Angeles

Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

“Tikkun Olam” has been one of the most inspiring concepts for me in Judaism, and I consider the mission to repair the world a motivational force in my life. It took me a while to realize how to do that and also dedicate myself to art — specifically opera, which can seem to so many people elitist, a confirmation of the established order rather than a call to question and change it. But when I think of art’s ability to let people see with new eyes and hear with transfigured ears, I see how it aligns with the mission of “Tikkun Olam." I don’t believe art can directly change the world, but I think it’s one of the most powerful catalysts for inspiring an appetite for change. It’s also why I’ve been dedicated to do work here in Los Angeles that is accessible, affordable, and not removed from daily life — staging opera in train stations, moving vehicles, on the streets, etc. — to show that the everyday always has within it tremendous potentiality. That should be available to everyone, with the hope that “Tikkun Olam” begins in the hearts of spectators who feel inspired by what they see, hear, and feel.

Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

Hmmm…sadly, I don’t think my work/life balance could be called “healthy!” Running an independent non-profit arts organization doesn’t happen within the prescribed 9-5, M-F work week. That said, I feel so fortunate that I make a living doing work that fills my life with meaning, so a lack of balance hasn’t provoked a crisis yet! I must confess that every Rosh Hashanah I vow to myself I’ll honor the Sabbath in true Rabbi Heschel style. The way he describes Shabbat in his book "The Sabbath" has always inspired me and remains a personal goal. (I’m sure I’ll go through the same process of wishful thinking again in a couple weeks…maybe this is the year?!)

What’s your favorite bagel topping?

Avocado! (I’m suuuuuuuch an Angeleno now…)

What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

Since I’m an opera director, I have to choose Arnold Schoenberg’s opera "Moses and Aaron", which I think is one of the most devastating depictions of the elemental struggle between word and image, the spiritual and the material. Moses is a speaking role, and he’s given severe and visionary pronouncements that struggle to find an audience; Aaron is a tenor who rephrases Moses in long seductive vocal lines that are so much easier to connect with. After an orgiastic dance around the golden calf provoked by Aaron’s singing, Aaron defends himself to his brother by saying he was making Moses’ ideas more relatable to the public. Moses responds, “Do I have to see the idea falsified?” The dialogue never resolves — Schoenberg never finished the opera, so when it’s performed now, it ends with the last line he set: Moses wailing, “Oh word, you word that I lack!” I love so many things about the opera, but what I think I love the most is how an elemental Jewish dilemma becomes a parable for truth's struggle to find its expression in the world.

If you could unplug and spend time with one Jewish/Jew-ish person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I would discuss Wagner with Daniel Barenboim (the Argentine-born pianist and conductor who is a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain).

What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Horizons also journey along with you.


The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  

 

 

August Rebooter Spotlight: Tiffany Shlain

Shane Hankins

Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of The Webby Awards. Her recent films are “The Science of Character,” “The Adaptable Mind” and “The Making of a Mensch.” She has received more than 75 awards and distinctions for her films and work. Her film studio, Let it Ripple, in San Francisco hosts a global event called Character Day (September 22, 2016) that explores  the social science and neuroscience behind character development -- shaping and developing who we are -- with screening and discussion events around the world.  Tiffany is currently directing a new film called “50/50,” about the past, present and future of women and power that will be released this fall.

Engage with Tiffany at tiffanyshlain.com and @tiffanyshlain.

City: San Francisco

1. Has Judaism had a direct impact on what you are doing in your life today?

Being Jewish has definitely filtered into everything I am doing today. As a filmmaker the first “Jewy” film I made was directly inspired by the first Reboot Summit in 2002--I wanted to bring this conversation about American-Jewish identity in the 21st century to a wider audience. So Ken Goldberg (collaborator, husband, Rebooter) and I wrote “The Tribe: American Jewish Identity through the history of the Barbie Doll...in 18 minutes.” It came with a discussion box including the film, conversation cards, and a book called “Guide From the Perplexed” (based on Maimonides book from the 11th century “Guide For the Perplexed.”) Ten years later, in some ways the “follow-up” to that film is my recent “The Making of a Mensch” (2015) - with a discussion kit about reviving an ancient Jewish philosophy (Mussar) about living with meaning and purpose. So 10 years ago I was wrestling with “What does it mean to be Jewish?” And today, as a married mother of two, I’m asking  “Okay, I’m Jewish, what Jewish ideas can help me live with meaning and purpose, and help Ken and I raise mensches?” (And yes, I want to reclaim mensch for both men and women.)

“The Making of a Mensch” is one of the three films being shown on Character Day on Sept 22, 2016, when people all over the world watch films and engage in discussion materials that focus on character development in the 21st century from different perspectives. There are 20,000 screening events planned at schools, companies, congregations, organizations on who we are and who we want to be in the world. We’re working with Jewish educators to expand our “Making of a Mensch” materials and resources this year which will be available online. We also have amazing thought leaders both Jewish and secular experts in the field on Character Day on our online Google hangout that unifies all of these screenings. I’d love for anyone reading this to bring Character Day to their kid’s school, congregation, alternative shul, work, or home. It definitely seems like the news today is calling for us to think, rethink and focus on who we are and who we want to be in the world. It’s all free -and you can check out a one-minute trailer and information here.

2. Traditionally, there is a day of rest to help us recharge. How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

Since my father passed away in 2009, my family and I have turned off all screens from Shabbat until late afternoon/early evening on Saturday. We started doing it that first National Day of Unplugging. We are now on our seventh year and it has been one of the best decisions we ever made.  Friday morning, I make challah with the girls. In the afternoon we make the table gorgeous with fresh flowers, Ken cooks an amazing roast chicken. We always have people over for dinner. All screens (phones, iPads, computer) go off. Then we go to bed, unplugged.  Saturday morning we wake up to a whole day to just hang out, no screens, reading, daydreaming, in nature, connecting. It resets everything each week, and I value this ritual/practice above all others in my life.

3. What’s your favorite bagel topping?

I like the whole megillah. Cream cheese, lox, tomato, cucumber, dill, salt & pepper, avocado. That sounds excessive as I write this….but it’s true.

4. What has been your most impactful Jewish-ish experience?

Ken and I helping to rethink, plan and experience our daughter Odessa’s recent bat mitzvah.

5. How has Reboot helped shaped your Jewish identity in new ways?

See answers 1 and 2.

6. What is your favorite Jewish text (text defined loosely as film, book, poem, graffiti art…)?

“The Sabbath” by Abraham Heschel. I love the way he talks about Shabbat as being “a sanctuary in time.”  As I move through life, I keep understanding more layers on why it’s so important to truly take one day off and place your mind and soul into a different mode.  It’s amazing for creativity and connection.

7. If you could unplug and spend time with a Jewish/Jew-ish person or several people for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

I’d like to take the following people to Burning Man: Einstein, Queen Esther, Abraham Heschel, Hannah Arendt, Mel Brooks, Gilda Radner, and Louis CK...in one airstream.

8. How do you think Judaism is evolving in today’s world?

Our greatest strength as Jews is to ask questions, and questioning is the lubrication for innovation. It keeps us exploring the best parts of rituals and ideas and then rethinking of how they can be updated for the 21st century.

9. What is your Six-Word Memoir on your Jewish Journey?

Jew. Jew-ish. Ish. Shh.. Jew. Jewess.


The Rebooter network is large and diverse, with creators of all kinds and types that do amazing work to help change the world. We do not endorse or identify with the specific thoughts, views and/or opinions of given individual Rebooters, and any views expressed are the sole opinions of the individual represented at the time.  

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