Almost two years ago, I got the crazy notion that it would be a good idea to write my own original translation of the Hebrew Bible. And, since the Torah is read aloud in synagogues each Shabbat, my translation had to be read publicly, in front of a live audience. And since it’s the 2010s, it also had to be recorded as a podcast. The show started on October 15, 2012 at the Parkside Lounge with writer Joe Winkler in front of a curious crowd of friends and family.
22 months later, in front of a packed house at Manhattan’s Beauty Bar, I put to rest the first book of my translation. To celebrate, I collected all my previous guests (either live or prerecorded) to read pieces of the trippy blessings Jacob gives his sons in the final chapters of Genesis. Anchored by the reading of the very talented Julie Sugar, it was a heck of a night, all preserved in podcast form.
Before the reading began, there was a moment of reflection. Reversing how this usually goes, Julie took on the interviewer role, and asked me about my translating, “Has anything surprised you about this process, about your relationship to all this stuff, over the last two years?” My answer began:
I’ve been surprised at how close I’ve gotten to it. Like, I think when we started doing this, and I’ve listened to the older episodes somewhat recently, I was a lot angrier about it and a lot like “ah, this is ridiculous.”
To hear what changed, my first memory of Torah, my thoughts on the concept of God, and, of course, the jam-packed reading in this extra-long episode, listen here:
Bringing this show to life has been an incredible journey, during which I’ve learned more than I ever expected. At this crucial juncture, I’m asking listeners to partner with me to generate the funds to keep the show going. That’s why I’m launching an Indiegogo campaign to cover the cost of the show and a whole lot more. Below, you’ll find a video where I make my pitch. If you’d like to donate or share the campaign, please visit the Indiegogo page here to become a partner in this project.
What do you think of Jacob’s blessings and of Genesis so far? Let us know in the comments.
David will be hosting a public mocking of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Beauty Bar (231 E. 14th Street) at 8:00 PM on July 28, and will begin Book Two of his translation at the same location on August 25.