To me, storytelling is at the heart of what it means to be Jewish. From Passover and Purim to Chanukah and Yom Kippur, our tradition is steeped in the stories of Moses and Miriam, Esther and Mordechai, Judah and Hannah. For centuries, these stories have held our people together. Retold in times of joy and sorrow, they help us make sense of the world, with each generation adding their own layer of interpretation.

But I should make one thing clear from the start: The story I’m about to share is about the wrong podcast. That’s because the podcast this story is about shouldn’t even exist. It wasn’t in the cards for 2020, until COVID-19 came to town.

This story is supposed to be about the podcast I’m writing and producing with my mother—72 Miles—about our experiences as an interfaith Jewish family in southern Kentucky. We raised $5,000 from friends, family and a CJP Arts and Culture grant, but by March it was clear that traveling to visit my immune-compromised parents wouldn’t be safe for a long time. So, this isn’t a story about 72 Miles.

When COVID-19 hit, I found myself sitting at home, unemployed, with big dreams and a microphone I didn’t really know how to use. So, I decided to start a podcast right away, for practice. In March, I launched Modern Torah: Commentary for the 21st Century, and now dozens of people around the world listen to me talk about Torah every week. But this isn’t a story about Modern Torah, either.

Suddenly I was a podcaster. People started reaching out to me for tips about launching their own projects. Many of them were unemployed. All of them had stories to share that were equal parts heartbreaking, inspiring and deeply meaningful, and I wanted to create a platform to share their stories with the world.

COVID Stories launched on July 14 and is available now anywhere you get your podcasts. I’ve spoken with dozens of people from all walks of life—college graduates whose dreams were dashed, sailors stuck at sea, front-line medical workers trying to hold COVID-19 at bay.

I am so grateful to the people who have bravely and vulnerably shared their stories with me, and without whom this project simply wouldn’t be possible.

This is COVID Stories, a podcast raising the voices of everyday people whose jobs and lives have been turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping all of us feel a little less isolated and a little more united as we move forward together.

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