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People of the Pod

Religion & Spirituality Podcasts

People of the Pod is a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens, brought to you by American Jewish Committee. Hosts Seffi Kogen and Manya Brachear Pashman examine current events, the people driving them, and what it all means for America, Israel, and the Jewish people.

People of the Pod is a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens, brought to you by American Jewish Committee. Hosts Seffi Kogen and Manya Brachear Pashman examine current events, the people driving them, and what it all means for America, Israel, and the Jewish people.


United States


People of the Pod is a weekly podcast analyzing global affairs through a Jewish lens, brought to you by American Jewish Committee. Hosts Seffi Kogen and Manya Brachear Pashman examine current events, the people driving them, and what it all means for America, Israel, and the Jewish people.








How Interfaith Relations Helped Drive the Abraham Accords; A View From Campus

This week, we bring you highlights from AJC Virtual Global Forum 2021. First, in a conversation moderated by Manya Brachear Pashman, we hear from H.E. Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Hedayah, and Rabbi David Rosen, AJC Director of International Interreligious Affairs, in The Siegler Family Annual Muslim-Jewish Symposium on How Interfaith Relations Helped Drive the Abraham Accords. Then, two college student activists, Julia Jassey, University of Chicago ‘23, and Talia Rosenberg,...


High Stakes: What’s Next for U.S. Policy on Iran?

Have American, European, and Israeli policymakers learned anything since signing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal? We sat down this week with AJC Jerusalem Director Avital Leibovich, AJC Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal, and AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer Jason Isaacson to analyze what the next few months could bring. We were also joined by AJC CEO David Harris for a closing message on Iran. Then, in our...


Talking Israel with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and AJC CEO David Harris

This week, we engage Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in conversation about the violence in Israel and Gaza and about Jewish American Heritage Month, with a special salute to another trailblazing Jewish congresswoman, Bella Abzug. Then, as Israel comes under attack from Hamas-ruled Gaza, we hear from AJC CEO David Harris on the immense challenges facing the Jewish state, the importance of confronting misinformation, and the need for solidarity. __ Episode Lineup: (0:40) Debbie...


Israel Under Attack: What You Need to Know

Israel is under attack, with over 1,500 rockets fired from Gaza, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters, and the threat of further violence continuing in Jerusalem and throughout the country. In this week’s episode, we bring you highlights from AJC’s live Advocacy Anywhere online event with AJC Jerusalem Director Avital Leibovich and i24news Senior Correspondent Owen Alterman. Hear their front-line report on the evolving crisis and AJC CEO David Harris’ inspiring closing message. Then, AJC...


Breaking Down the Facebook Ban and Celebrating American Jewish Heritage Month

This week, we speak to Emi Palmor, former Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Justice and a current member of The Oversight Board, which makes binding policy decisions on Facebook and Instagram, to discuss the board’s ruling on Facebook’s indefinite ban of former President Trump and other recent decisions. Then, leading American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University and the author of American Judaism: A History and When General...


What You Should Know About the Iran Nuclear Talks

Earlier this month, six world powers reopened negotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the United States withdrew in 2018. Washington Institute Director of Research Patrick Clawson, a longtime friend of American Jewish Committee, joins us to discuss the implications of those talks and the threat posed by Iran. Then, AJC Project Interchange Director Nisha Abkarian joins us to share her grandmother’s harrowing story...


“I Will Never Forget That Day”: Poway’s Mayor on the Second Anniversary of the Chabad Shooting

On April 27, 2019, in the middle of Passover, a white supremacist burst through the doors of a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California and opened fire, killing congregant Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others. As we approach the second anniversary of the shooting, we speak to Mayor Steve Vaus, a Grammy-winning country music singer, who was serving his first term as Poway’s mayor at the time. Then we’re joined by AJC Paris Director Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache to talk about the case of...


Yossi Klein Halevi on The Third Era of Jewish History

Author and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi joins us to talk about the wisdom of the Israeli calendar in how Israel remembers the fallen on Yom HaZikaron, followed by celebrating its independence on Yom HaAtzma’ut the very next day. Then, we’re joined by Erica Mindel, AJC’s Assistant Director of Program Development for Project Interchange, who served in the IDF as an Armored Corps instructor and shares what this week means to her. _____ Episode Lineup: (00:40) Yossi Klein Halevi (25:53)...


The Art of Inventing Hope: Elie Wiesel’s Masterclass for Humanity

Elie Wiesel walked out of Buchenwald, one of the largest concentration camps in Germany, on April 11, 1945, the same day as the late father of journalist Howard Reich, the legendary former jazz critic for The Chicago Tribune. Reich never talked to his father or mother, both survivors, about their Holocaust experiences. But in 2001 Reich’s mother began to relive those experiences, and his quest to piece together the stories he never knew about led to his book and subsequent film, Prisoner of...


What We Can All Learn from Rabbi Heschel on Confronting Injustice

This week we hear from Martin Doblmeier, the director of Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story on the history of one of the most inspiring and preeminent scholars of the 20th Century. Doblmeier discusses Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s profound impact on the civil rights movement, the relationship between Jews and the Roman Catholic Church, and the “evil of indifference.” Then, Natalia Mahmud, AJC’s Associate Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations, speaks about the...


The Israeli Election: What Just Happened and What Comes Next

This week we’re joined by Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ha’aretz journalist and panelist for The Promised Podcast, to discuss some of the headliners from the Israeli election: potential kingmaker and Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas and Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who will be the first Reform rabbi to serve in the Knesset. Kaplan Sommer also discusses how democracy plays out in Israel and the United States and what it’s like to live in Israel, a complex, multicultural society. Then, AJC CEO David Harris...


This Is Why Israel is Having Its Fourth Election in Two Years

Ahead of the March 23rd elections in Israel, we’re joined by Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel's senior political analyst. Gur discusses the highly polarized sentiment around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the conflict within the Haredi community over pandemic restrictions, and the gap between the positions of the political parties that represent Arab Israelis and the concerns of Arab Israelis themselves. Then, Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC's Belfer Institute for Latino and...


The Nazi Hunter: Eli Rosenbaum on Tracking Down the World’s Most Wanted Criminals

This week, we’re in conversation with Eli Rosenbaum, Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy at the Department of Justice. For 40 years, Rosenbaum has helped the department track down former Nazis and hold them accountable for their World War II crimes, a role that has earned him the moniker of “Nazi Hunter”. Then, Shira Loewenberg, Director of AJC's Asia Pacific Institute (API) speaks about the wide-scale democracy protests across Myanmar in the weeks since the local...


Non-Orthodox Conversion in Israel: Dividing or Uniting the Jewish World?

This week, the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a ruling on conversions conducted by non-Orthodox rabbis. We hear from AJC's Director of Contemporary Jewish Life Laura Shaw Frank, a leading thinker on this important issue, about how this decision will affect the Israel-Diaspora relationship. Then, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights Felice Gaer reflects on what it means to see the world and human...


Soraya Nadia McDonald on Being Black and Jewish; NBC’s No Good, Very Bad Week

Journalist Soraya Nadia McDonald is the Culture Critic for The Undefeated, ESPN’s platform for exploring the intersection of sports, race, and culture. She is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her essays on theater and film, including The Unbearable Whiteness of Oklahoma. Last year, when her fellow Howard University alumnus Nick Cannon made antisemitic remarks, Soraya wrote a more personal essay about being Black and Jewish. Soraya sat down with us for a conversation about confronting...


Israel and the International Criminal Court; The Power of Music

Last weekend, the International Criminal Court at The Hague determined that it has jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza, taking a major step toward prosecuting Israelis for alleged war crimes. To help us unpack what’s been happening and what it means for Israel, we’re joined by Barak Ravid, Contributing Correspondent for Axios and Diplomatic Correspondent for Walla News. Then we hear from AJC Chief Innovation Officer Belle Yoeli on the power of song during the pandemic, Manya Brachear...


The Real Danger of QAnon; Telling the Jewish Story in Arabic

This week, we’re in conversation with Joel Finkelstein, cofounder and director of the Network Contagion Research Institute, a nonpartisan, multidisciplinary research group of experts who study online disinformation, and Pamela Paresky, a senior scholar at the Institute who focuses on the psychology of thriving in a liberal democracy. Both have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of the antisemitic conspiracy theory movement QAnon and they join us to discuss what we can expect next from...


The Problem with California’s Ethnic Studies; Mayors United Against Antisemitism

A controversial curriculum for teaching ethnic studies in California public schools will face a final vote in March. Since the first draft came out in 2019, a coalition of Jewish organizations has advocated for content that meaningfully includes Jews and other groups, discusses antisemitism, and avoids perpetuating stereotypes that put Jews in danger. We sit down with Director of AJC Northern California Rabbi Serena Eisenberg about the curriculum and why it should matter to all of us. Then,...


International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Mandy Gonzalez; Israel’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout and the Palestinians

In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Museum of Jewish Heritage held a special event, “18 Voices: A Liberation Day Reading Of Young Writers’ Diaries From The Holocaust.” We sit down with Broadway actress Mandy Gonzalez, who read diary excerpts during the virtual reading, and Alexandra Zapruder, curator of “18 Voices” and author of “Salvaged Pages.” Then, we speak to Lahav Harkov, Senior Contributing Editor and Diplomatic Correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, about...


The Biden Administration Gets Underway and Post-Inauguration Reflections

One day after inauguration, we sit down with AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer Jason Isaacson to discuss President Joe Biden’s inaugural address and what to expect from the new administration. Then, we hear from AJC Senior Director of Policy and Political Affairs Julie Fishman Rayman on how to engage with those with whom we disagree, Manya Brachear Pashman on President Biden’s call for truth and his condemnation of white supremacy, and Seffi Kogen on the photo of Senator Bernie...