Every Choice Matters: Confronting and Embracing Risk with Rabbi Aviva Richman
Fall Lecture Series 2020

Aviva Richman

Life under a global pandemic has brought into focus the fundamental role that risk plays in our lives. Every decision, from where we grocery shop to how often we see our families, carries weight - the weight of knowing that our actions carry some degree of risk to ourselves, those around us, and beyond. What sources of wisdom can help orient us while we navigate choices that feel daunting and impossible?

Session 1: Dignity and Risk with Jess Belasco and Rabbi Jonathan Malamy

Our first session will focus on the importance of human dignity in the face of risk. We will explore whether and how our sense of self and identity is tied to the ability to make our own choices about the risks we are willing to take. How can communities navigate risk in a way that honors everyone’s dignity when we know that some people are more vulnerable to risk than others? Our conversation partners will be Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life at The New Jewish Home in Manhattan, and Jessica Belasco, a disability rights writer and activist and rabbinical student at Jewish Theological Seminary.

Session 2: We Are Born Of Risk with Dr. Chavi Karkowsky

Every individual can trace their origins back to a period of risk, the pregnancy and birth that brought each of us into the world. We don’t always think about these experiences as formative, even as they are how we build our families, and start our own continuity. But these experiences are definitively human, and the most ancient of liminal and insecure times that individuals, families, and communities go through. How can the uncertainty and risk of bringing life into the world - even in these modern and curated times - be a resource to navigate the uncertainty we face in the lives we live out in the world, in general, and especially in these times? Our conversation partner will be Dr. Chavi Karkowsky, an ob-gyn who specializes in high risk pregnancies and is the author of the recently published book High Risk: A Doctor’s Notes on Pregnancy, Birth and the Unexpected.

Session 3: Zooming Out, Zooming In: Risk, Values, and Hard Choices with Dr. David Slusky

The array of choices we have to make each day can be overwhelming, especially as we try to weigh various risks against various gains. What rubrics exist to understand the meaning and impact of these choices? How can these rubrics help us make sense of our own intuitions around what levels of risk we are willing to tolerate and for what purposes? Can this period of heightened awareness of risk offer revelatory insight into what we care about most and how to live out our values, even during challenging periods? Our conversation partner will be Dr. David Slusky, De-Min and Chin-Sha Wu Associate Professor of Economics and Associate Professor of Population Health at the School of Medicine at the University of Kansas.


Dignity and Risk with R. Aviva Richman, Jess Belasco, and R. Jonathan Malamy
(audio/mpeg, 32.62MB)

We Are Born of Risk with R. Aviva Richman and Dr. Chavi Karkowsky
(audio/mpeg, 31.65MB)

Zooming Out, Zooming In: Risk, Values, and Hard Choices with R. Aviva Richman and Dr. David Slusky
(audio/mpeg, 33.47MB)