Episode 27: Death
Is there something peculiar to Judaism that makes us think about death differently? With no proscription for a definitive heaven or afterlife, how does that affect how we live our lives and think about death? Are Jewish rituals an effective way of dealing with grief? Are there better ways to think and talk about death with friends and family? In our final episode from season 2 we address these questions with British comedian David Baddiel (who you might remember from this season’s atheism episode), Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie from NYC’s Lab/Shul, founder of Death Over Dinner and DoD Jewish Edition Michael Hebb and Dan Crane’s 97-year-old nana.
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.
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performance artist, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2016.
Rabbi Amichai is a member of the Global Justice Fellowship of the American Jewish World Service, a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network, a consultant to the Reboot Network, a member of the URJ Faculty Team and the Advisory Council of ORAM, an LGBT focused organization for refugees, asylum and migration. He was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Israel (2008-2009) and serves on the advisory committee of Faith House Manhattan.
Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “rock star” by the New York Times, a “Judaic Pied Piper” by the Denver Westword, a “maverick spiritual leader” by The Times of Israel and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week. In 2016 The Forward named him one of the thirty-two “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in America.
Rabbi Amichai is the proud Abba of Alice, Ezra, and Charlotte-Hallel.
Michael Hebb (@deathoverdinner) is the Founder of Deathoverdinner.org, Drugsoverdinner.org, and Seder2015.org and co-founder of deathoverdinner-jewishedition.org. He is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Washington Communication Leadership Graduate Program and a Trustee of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts; he has served as a Senior Advisor to Summit Series, Theo Chocolate, Learnist, CreativeLive, Architecture For Humanity and Siren.
Hebb has been staging convivial gatherings and redefining hospitality/tablemaking since 1997; co-founding the City Repair project with Mark Lakeman; and co-founding family supper, ripe, clarklewis, and the Gotham Bldg Tavern in Portland OR with Naomi Pomeroy. His expansive multidisciplinary dinners have taken place on five continents, have been exhibited in several museums and featured in the NY Times, W, Art Forum, The New Yorker, GQ, The Guardian and dozens of international publications. Michael strongly believes that the table is one of the most effective (and overlooked) vehicles for changing the world.
He is also the founder of One Pot – a creative agency that specializes in the technology of the common table, and the ability to shift culture through the use of thoughtful food and discourse based engagements and happenings. One Pot has worked closely with thought/cultural leaders and many foundations/institutions including: The World Economic Forum, Republic of Gabon, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, X Prize Foundation, FEED Foundation, The Nature Conservancy.
For more on Death Over Dinner—Jewish Edition check out the website.
Janice “Nana” Lubbin is 95-years-young and lives in Los Angeles. She’s the proud mother of two children, 3 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
He writes about culture and travel for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, California Sunday, Slate, 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 Veep, Spy, The Heat, the animated show Big Mouth out on Netflix 9/29, and the upcoming season of Search Party.