8 Soul-Searching Questions with Devorah Baum

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Monday, February 27, 2017 - 13:38

We caught up with Devorah Baum, author of Feeling Jewish and The Jewish Joke, and co-director of the feature documentary The New Man, ahead of her appearance in How Do We Live with Death? on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 March.

Name three things you want to do before you die.
I want to be braver. I want to get the better of my death-drive. I want to go to Japan and lots of other places I've never been before -  with my husband and children, and also with my husband and without my children.

What would your funeral poem be?
‘Ashrei’ by Lea Goldberg

Do you believe any part of us continues to exist after death?
I have no idea what I believe, nor on what basis I would have any idea.  

If there is an afterlife, what would you want it to look like?
It would be roughly the same as this life, but without the endless wondering about an afterlife - so unimaginably different.

Name a work of art (can be any art form) that has made you think differently about the meaning of life.
Ozu's film Tokyo Story somehow seemed to show me the workings of time and so on certain rare occasions when I remember it that film has helped me to experience my passing moments differently.

Do you think a more spiritual world would be a better place?
To answer this simply would assume I shared some understanding of what 'spiritual' means with whoever reads this, so I'll say instead that I think what would likely make the world a better place would be a greater sense of awareness of what we a) don't know and b) can't know - and that awareness, for me, might be construed as spiritual.

Do you think comedy is important in dealing with matters of life and death?
I think it's important to have a sense of humour when dealing with pretty much everything, though I don't think one should always display it.

What do you believe in, above all else?
The kindness of strangers.

As part of our year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival, Devorah Baum takes part in a panel discussion on Saturday 4 March about What Happens Next? after death. Devorah also appears on the panel for Apocalyptic Religion on Sunday 5 March.

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