What is ancient is new again. That’s part of the philosophy behind Brett Lockspeiser’s Sefaria app, a free digital library of Jewish texts in English and Hebrew. A secular Jew with no formal Jewish education, Lockspeiser, 37, is the project’s chief engineer behind the project. He was nominated for the Forward 50 by a reader who is also a colleague, Tali Herenstein, who said he “is responsible for removing millennia-old obstacles to access and revolutionizing engagement with these texts for every Jew (and non-Jew), everywhere.”
What’s the last thing you listened to on your phone? An episode of the podcast “Dolly Parton’s America,” which described the parallels between her upbringing in Tennessee and that of a friend of hers who grew up in a village in Syria.
Earliest Jewish memory: Running out of shul with all the kids at the end of Yom Kippur to search the sky for three stars so we could run back into shul and tell the adults it was O.K. to eat.
Heroes: Joseph Campbell, Leopold Bloom, Abraham, David Bowie, Solomon.
2019 memory: Holding my breath while a crash of five rhinos stared us down then walked inches from our truck on safari in South Africa. Then the sight of five rhino tushies waddling away up a hill.
Favorite thing about being Jewish: Learning, singing, and storytelling. Explaining to non-Jewish friends under what conditions a grasshopper can be kosher.
What app can you not live without? The Sefaria app, of course :)
Read more A 2017 Forward article about Sefaria
Profile of Lockspeiser in The Washington Post
Brett Lockspeiser: The Torah Technologist