Season 2 Episode 17: Jewish Atheism

Can Jews be atheists and still be Jews? Hosts Dan Crane and Jessica Chaffin explore the question of Jewish atheism with rabbi Susan Goldberg of LA's Wilshire Boulevard Temple, president of American Atheists David Silverman, British comedian David Baddiel, and founder and president emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America Herb Silverman. 

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Rabbi Susan Goldberg (@therabbisusan) came to Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown in 2013. A fourth-generation Angeleno, she is thrilled to continue her focus on renewing LA’s east-side Jewish community to help it once again be an active part of the multicultural beauty of these neighborhoods. Rabbi Susan revitalized Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock and served as rabbi in residence for East Side Jews a project of the Silverlake Independent JCC. Her leadership has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Lilith Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, the Jewish Journal, and on Southern Calif Public Radio KPCC and KCRW.


David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants) is the President of American Atheists, author of Fighting God, Creator & Chair of the 2012 Reason Rally.

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David Baddiel (@Baddiel) is a a comedian and author. His one-man-show My Family Not the Sitcom returns for a UK-wide tour in 2018. 

Baddiel was first known as one of the stars of The Mary Whitehouse Experience and then Newman and Baddiel In Pieces. In 1992, with Rob Newman, David performed to 12,500 people in the UK’s first ever arena comedy show. He is credited with making comedy “the new rock and roll” although no one is really sure who said that…

In 1994 David and Frank Skinner created Fantasy Football League allowing them to talk about football for a living for over 10 years. The pair, along with The Lightening Seeds, wrote the iconic unofficial England anthem ‘Three Lions’, which has been number one three times and is still heard at games around the world. I guess this would been seen as the ‘new lad’ phase.

In 2000 David and Frank created the hit ITV show Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned, going out live and unscripted for over 60 episodes. They joined up together again in 2006 and 2010 to record one of the first hit podcasts, Baddiel and Skinner’s World Cup Podcasts, live from Germany and South Africa. The show was downloaded over a million times and was one of the first podcasts to be nominated for a Sony award.

Away from the screen David has been writing for nearly 20 years. He has published seven books to date; Time for Bed (1996), Whatever Love Means (2002), The Secret Purposes (2006), The Death of Eli Gold (2011), The Parent Agency (2015), The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked (2016) and The Person Controller (2016).

In 2010 David wrote his first movie with the hit indie film The Infidel, starring Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Matt Lucas and Miranda Hart. Following its success, and a Kickstarter campaign, a stage version premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East in autumn 2014.

After nearly 15 years away David returned to the stage in 2013 with his critically acclaimed show FAME: Not The Musical. The show discussed David’s strange relationship with celebrity and what it is like to live a life in (and out of) fame. In 2016 David premiered his new show My Family: Not The Sitcom at the Menier Chocolate Factory. A sell out, critically acclaimed run saw the show transfer to the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre.

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Herb Silverman (@herbsilverman1)is founder and president emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America; founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, South Carolina; and founder and former faculty advisor to the College of Charleston student Atheist/Humanist Alliance. He is a board member of the American Humanist Association; advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance; and an "On Faith" blogger for the Washington Post online. 

Herb has appeared in a number of debates on topics that include: Can we be moral without God? Does God exist? Is America a Christian nation? He has also debated at the Oxford Union at Oxford University in England on the topic, Does American religion undermine American values? 

After an eight-year legal battle, Herb won a unanimous decision in South Carolina’s Supreme Court, nullifying the state’s religious test requirement to hold public office.



Dan Crane (@dancranehere) is a journalist, musician, Jew (lax, loves lox) and retired professional air-guitarist.

He writes about culture and travel for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, California SundaySlate, and numerous other publications. 

He’s the author of “To Air is Human” and stars in the documentary, Air Guitar Nation.





Jessica Chaffin (@jessicachaffin) is an American actress, comedian, and writer perhaps best known as Ronna of the comedy duo "Ronna & Beverly." Other credits include VeepSpyThe Heat, the animated show Big Mouth out on Netflix 9/29, and the upcoming season of Search Party.