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Audio Essays

We know that text is not the best way to learn for everyone. In an effort to make our content more accessible, we've worked with some of our contributors to offer audio versions of their essays.

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Introduction Essays

What is Hasidism? What is neo-Hasidism?

Volume I

Gashmius staff provide a short, non-comprehensive introduction to the basics of Hasidism and neo-Hasidism. 

Read by Gwyneth Hernandez

What Does Gashmius Mean?

Volume II

Gashmius staff go over the history of the word, 

gashmius, and why it was chosen as the name for this magazine.

Read by Eva Sturm-Gross

Mysticism and Moral Action

Volume III

In the intro essay to Vol 2, we argued that the theology of avodah b'gashmius from which we take our name makes moral — and not just spiritual — claims on people. This introductory essay to Volume 3 expands on that by asserting that a “mystical state of unity with God and an ethical state of moral behavior are co-occurrent.”

Read by Daniel Kraft

Volume III

A Lesson From God In Trans Visibility - Lexi Kohanski

In this piece, Lexi Kohanski uses the story of the building of the Tabernacle (the portable sanctuary that traveled with the Israelites in the desert after leaving Egypt) to unpack the experience of gender transition. Using a Hasidic text from R Menahum Nahum Twersky of Chernobyl, she explores the central question: is the purpose of gender transition to the product, or the process? She writes that “Just as the point of the Mishkan is not the product but the Presence [of G-d], so too transition should not be about arriving at the goal of gender; it should be about using gender to build our bodies and our selves into vessels that can reflect just a little bit more of the light of Hashem with which the world was created.”

Read by Lexi Kohanski

New-Ancient Homelands: Zohar, Diaspora, and the Construction of Place - Jesse Noily

In this piece, Jesse Noily explores the Zohar (the centerpiece of Jewish mysticism) as a model for Jews living in diaspora to relate to land and the notion of “home.” Breaking with much of academic scholarship up until now, he uses a linguistic analysis to argue that — although the authors set the narrative in Palestine — they weren’t trying to hide the fact that they were firmly at home in Medieval Spain. He writes that “the Zohar’s reflection of its Spanish context represents a model for Jews living in diaspora of what it means to be in relationship with one’s geographic context and the dual (multiple) identities this experience implies.”

Read by Jesse Noily

Shekhinah: Relating to God Through Emptiness - Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, PhD

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone wrote this essay three decades ago, and we are honored to publish it for the first time . Here Rabbi Tirzah begins to articulate, in a nascent form, the ideas about the Shekhinah and the Divine Feminine in Judaism that she would fully develop in her groundbreaking 2003 book The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom.

Read by Gwyneth Hernandez

Volume II

Our Souls Sing on their Own - Rena Branson

Rena Branson explores how the Hasidic practice of singing niggunim (wordless melodies) reconnected them to their ancestral tradition of Judaism and, eventually, to their birth father. 

Read by Rena Branson

Shattered Vessels: Zionism, Domination, and Redemption - Aron Wander

Aron Wander provides a critique of Zionism through the lens of Lurianic Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism). Throughout the piece he explores themes of domination as it relates to a central mythic motif of Lurianic Kabbalah, Shevirat HaKeilim or "the shattering of the vessels".

Read by Aron Wander

The Reader and the Rebbe: Text Study as Relationship in neo-Hasidism - Jonah Mac Gelfand

Jonah Gelfand explores the experiences of neo-Hasidic leaders and the relationships that they were able to develop with Rebbes by engaging with their written works. These stories can offer guidance for how we choose to develop our own relationships with texts so that they may ultimately impact our spiritual lives. 

Read by Jonah Mac Gelfand

Review of Art Green's Well of Living Insight: Comments on the Siddur - Reyzl Grace

Reyzl Grace discusses whether the questions that Art Green chooses to address in his newest book are still relevant to the issues and experiences of her generation. Additionally, she explores how and if the book will impact her personal davening practice and theology. 

Read by Reyzl Grace

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Grappling with Yitzhak Ginsburgh's Right-Wing Neo-Hasidism - Zev Mishell

Zev Mishell’s article focuses on the prominent Israeli leader Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh and his interpretation of Chabad Hasidism mixed with far right Israeli politics for the most reactionary Israeli settlers. Mishell argues that progressive Jews should contest the Israeli right wing’s impact on Modern Judaism by recognizing Judaism’s multi-vocal heritage, the complexity of the Jewish past and present, and by fighting for our own right to claim and practice the tradition.

Read by Daniel Kraft

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