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The Downton Abbey Drosh: Jewish Paradigms in Art and Culture

David EvansFilmed at Limmud Conference 2014

Imagine that the paradigms of Rabbinic Judaism were part of secular European culture; that the aggadic tradition of the Talmud were as accessible to artists and writers, to audiences and readers, as Shakespeare or Cervantes - what would that mean for Western secular culture? What would it mean for Jews in the diaspora? Would that state of affairs even be desirable? I am a director of TV drama and a convert to Judaism; two biographical facts that may seem to have little to do with each other. But my job has made me keenly aware of the power of narrative ideas: knots of moral, ethical, psychological doubt and assertion, wound together by the twine of a story. Finding these rare and beautiful intellectual structures is not easy - but my path into Judaism has been strewn with them. I don’t want to keep my discovery to myself, and I believe there is a way to share these Jewish paradigms in a non-Jewish, non-religious arena, to the benefit of all. My motivational talk - with a little help from the cast of 'Downton Abbey' explains how I would go about it.

David Evans is an Emmy-nominated, multi-award winning director of film and television. Over a twenty year career he has made both drama and documentaries, ranging from a profile of writer and activist Andrea Dworkin to several episodes of ‘Downton Abbey’. He has recently completed two very different projects: the opening episodes of ‘Cucumber’, a drama series about the misadventures of a middle-aged gay couple, written by Russell T Davies, to be broadcast soon on C4 – and a documentary about the sons of two senior Nazis, for ‘Storyville’ at the BBC.

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