A pop quiz, for comic book fans and non-fans alike: what do rival superhero companies Marvel and DC have in common? The answer, at least for the purposes of this article, is that several of their flagship characters (Superman, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk) were created by Jewish artists.
When Shaare Emeth member Allison Worth first learned that piece of trivia, it was a lightbulb moment. Already a budding fan of science fiction and fantasy stories (Dr. Who, Spider-Man comics and Star Trek were some of her first loves), Allison began to look at her favorite pieces of pop culture through a Jewish lens. And the more she looked, the more Jewish cultural connections she found.
So when one of her audio arts classes at Columbia College in Chicago tasked her with creating a new podcast, Allison quickly zeroed in on a concept that would explore the Jewish roots of sci-fi and fantasy stories. Her creation, They Made It Out of Clay, has now taken on a life beyond the classroom, and is available for listening on platforms like Amazon’s Audible and Apple Podcasts.
Allison interviews guests about the Jewish connections to works like NBC’s The Good Place or Jewish creators like Marvel’s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Guests have included several members of the Shaare Emeth clergy. The first season of the podcast is winding down following Allison’s recent graduation from Columbia, but she expects to produce a second season in the near future.
“A lot of my audience right now is Jewish, and that’s great,” Allison, 22, says, “but I’d like to have more of a non-Jewish audience. Especially with growing anti-Semitism now, people knowing that a lot of their favorite stories teach Jewish values could be really helpful.”
Want to listen? Visit sestl.org/clay-podcast, which will route you straight to the show on Apple Podcasts.