By Julie Greenberg
Everyone is familiar with the “pandemic puppy” phenomenon by now, but a pandemic podcast?
When considering how best to engage our high school students through a virtual version of our “CHAI Society” program last year, I imagined a way to finally pursue a goal that I have long had of creating an oral archive of our membership. With that in mind and with some grant funding from our generous friends at The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee in place, I reached out to my colleague Batsheva Frankel of New Lens Ed., whose podcast “Over-throwing Education” continues to offer fresh insights and resources for educators both secular and religious. Why not pair Micah’s teens with some of our senior congregants to conduct interviews and then create our own podcast to share their stories with a larger audience?
With intrepid teens on board, we reached out to Micah members Victoria Cohen-Crumpton, Dee Doochin, Jack May, Dr. Bob Smith, and Hope Stringer who all agreed to lend their voices to the inaugural season of the students’ enthusiastically named podcast project, “Getting to Know Jew.”
Once we scheduled and conducted the interviews over Zoom, the much more demanding work of editing began. Over many months, students learned how to script and record intros and outros, create cover art, source royalty-free music for transitions, organize episodes by theme, and then edit the five episodes using the cross-platform software Audacity. The last step was to find and upload all the content to a platform for distributing the podcast. Through Anchor, “Getting to Know Jew” launched last month as a weekly Shabbat gift from these dedicated teens and is now available on Apple Podcasts (under Anchor’s own account), Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Spotify.
The episodes are 18 minutes or less, and they each contain the wit and wisdom of these colorful Micah menchen. Beyond all the technical skills that the students learned through this project, listeners will immediately appreciate the range of playful, sincere, and sometimes sobering conversations that are now preserved for posterity. Students are currently working on Season 2, and I share in their pride that the podcast born of a global pandemic will forever remind us that stories shared across generations are educational, entertaining, and vital to the survival of our spirits. So, tune in and savor the lessons of Jewish lives well-lived – l'chaim!