Who The Folk?! Lev Gringauz

After a couple of years on the road, Lev Gringauz is back in the Twin Cities, back at the U, and starting a new project. Lev, whose work you’ve been reading on TC Jewfolk for a couple of years, talks about travel, journalism, and The Jews Are Tired, on this week’s Who The Folk Podcast?!

You can read an excerpt below, but for the whole interview (which you are really going to want to hear), please listen or subscribe to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher, with more to come later soon. Please subscribe, rate, and review. And of course, if you have suggestions of others who would be great subjects, let us know!

What was it like the last couple of years abroad in Israel and traveling around?

It’s hard to boil down two years of totally wacky life experience. But awesome is the word I would use. You have this life experience, where, you know, I was away from family, I was away from friends, I was out in the world. And I got to meet a whole bunch of cool people, started freelance journalism, and it’s like, you get to talk to people who could have been the prime minister of Israel, you get to go to Ukraine, and talk to former Soviet dissidents who are now you know, sort of kings of the Jewish community. And it’s just a really cool experience to see the global level of Jewish life in the world that’s out there.

What did you learn from those from talking to those people from different walks of life, and how do you sort of bring that experience back to this community now?

I don’t have a not blunt way to put this, but I guess America is really a bubble in a lot of ways. And the way that Jews in America tend to respond to global issues is very sort of one track, one way, one mind kind of thing in a lot of senses. But being out there there are so many complexities. You talk about Holocaust remembrance in Eastern Europe: You’ve got Hungary, for example, where you’ve got part of the Jewish community that’s against the way that the Holocaust is being reinterpreted in Eastern Europe (saying) everyone was a victim, as opposed to focusing on the Jews. You’ve got another part of the Jewish community that says, “Oh, no, that’s perfectly fine.” And you’ve got all these complexities of the issue on the ground that you just don’t get here

So what got you interested in journalism?

I always bring it back to, at the end of the day, making sense of the world. It’s my way to process everything. There’s just so many parts of the world that need to make sense of for me, and journalism, I mean, it just sort of evolved that that was the best way to do it. It was the easiest way to walk up to people and just like to make up a reason to talk to them. I can stick my phone in front of who’s ever face and go, “Hi, I’m a journalist, talk to me.” And they will! It was incredible.

There are other ways to tell stories, and starting Sept. 24, episode 1 of The Jews Are Tired is coming out. What is The Jews Are Tired?

The premise is pretty basic: We all hate the news. It’s overwhelming. There’s too much of it. And somehow the Jews are always in the middle of it. And then a certain point, whether it’s on Facebook, if God forbid, you’re on Twitter, or anywhere else, where you receive headlines, you’re like, “Oh, no.” And its been a common refrain of both Jewish journalists and Israeli journalists themselves. Its finally come to the point where I think it might actually be a good idea to, every week, sit down, take under 10 minutes and go here’s this big story. Here’s what we actually need to understand from it, you’re stripping away all of the rhetoric and you know, things that people are saying, getting actually to understanding what that what this is, why it matters.

Nuance in what’s become a nuance-free environment.

That is the other piece of it. I follow and listen to and pay attention to a lot of Jewish and Israeli journalists. For most journalists, they have to cover what somebody says. And when something happens, I can take a step back and strip it to just the essential parts.

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