David Brown interviewed by Deborah Fishman

Deborah Fishman is a network weaver interested in new opportunities to create change in the Jewish world. She was most recently Editor & Publisher of PresenTense Magazine. She tweets as @deborahfishman.

David Brown is Social Action Coordinator atJHub in London, working on the Jewish Social Action Forum’s Big Green Jewish and Fairtrade campaigns. He is also the European coordinator of SIACH: A Global Environment and Social Justice network, and was on the core volunteer team recently for Limmud Conference in the UK.

What is a network?
I think of connections between people, projects, and organizations. It can be a group of people who happen to find themselves in the same space, organizationally or physically. Either a given area of content can attract people (I think about SIACH), or it can be getting people together and letting them define the content (like the ROI Community).

I come to the world of networks with a lot of stereotypes in mind. I always thought of it as very utilitarian and transactional – it’s schmooze, booze, and people talking while looking over their shoulders to see if they see someone more interesting to talk to. Continue reading


Church and State: Getting the Balance Right

Being a dual citizen is usually quite easy – I love having both Guy Fawkes Day and Thanksgiving in my November diary. (Of course, July 4 is a bit tricky when I have to decide whether to celebrate American Independence Day or mourn the breaking away of the Colonies.) Yesterday, however, was one of those days when my dual identity forced me to think hard about which country’s policy is the one that best furthers the Jewish contribution to larger society. We had the pleasure last week of welcoming Andrew Stunell OBE MP to JHub for a visit with his staff. In the course of showing him around JHub and watching him interact with our residents, I began to question whether America’s insistence on a separation of Church and State is such a wise policy after all. Continue reading

Jewish innovation & the establishment: creating in ways that connect with what’s already been created?

The blog below is an adaptation of a piece I wrote for PresenTense. I was writing this around Tisha B’Av, which prompted me to consider whether Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai the first truly Jewish innovator?

There were many great leaders before him, but there are some defining characteristics about his actions during the destruction of the second temple that may add to our discussion about what is “Jewish” about Jewish innovation, and what role do Jewish innovators play within the broader communal establishment. Continue reading

Energy and Possibility: Empowering the Future of Jewish Life in Europe

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. …. get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

On a recent Shabbat evening in Uppsala, Sweden, a group of over fifty Jewish young adults from across Europe gathered together to welcome Shabbat. A discussion ensued in the spirit of Heschel’s conception of radial amazement and how it might apply to them individually or as a group. As the discussion circled the room, one particular Romanian woman who had been quiet during much of the past two days spoke up. She looked around the room, at the faces of young, laughing and dreaming Jewish Europeans from London to Krakow to Istanbul (and every point in between), and then she smiled. “This” she said, “is amazing. There is energy in this room; there is possibility.” Continue reading