Getting to know: Dovid Taub
Dovid Taub and his dog Lizzy discuss the role of canines in the Exodus. (Photo courtesy of Dovid Taub)
Dovid Taub. Dovid Taub and his dog Lizzie explore the role of canines in the Exodus
ProfileDovid Taub

Getting to know: Dovid Taub

Animating puppeteer explores the Parsha, finds rabbinic writings and Alex P. Keaton

Main image by Dovid Taub. Dovid Taub and his dog Lizzie explore the role of canines in the Exodus

Squirrel Hill resident Dovid Taub’s newest venture is like his past ones — it will make you laugh.

The Parshah Rabbit Hole,” which is available as both a vodcast and podcast, employs Taub’s trademark idiosyncrasies. Puns, pop culture references and source sheets steer followers through a whimsical exploration of the weekly Torah reading.

Recorded from his studio, the series is an outgrowth of earlier textual inquiry, Taub told the Chronicle: “Occasionally, if I needed to give a class on something, I would go and look on Sefaria and be like, ‘What weird source sheets do I have?’”

The free, open-source, digital library of Jewish texts permits users to not only comb the corpus of rabbinic writings but isolate and compile selections for later reference.

“Sefaria is amazing. It’s like, in my opinion, the most important thing in Judaism in the past, I don’t know, how many years,” Taub said. “You’ve got all the commentaries on the side, and all the connected texts, and other things that mention the same thing, and you can go back in time, and forward in time and sideways in time.”

Click after click sent Taub on unexpected paths along Sefaria’s interface. He enjoyed the discoveries and began documenting his electronic journey. Reviewing that digital trek prompted a familiar description.

“It’s a rabbit hole,” he said.

But Taub’s resulting weekly series doesn’t just piece together biblical references alongside antiquated rabbinic writings to explore Jewish takes on gremlins — a subject covered in “The Parsha Rabbit Hole: Bereishit.” Taub fills his work with excerpted video from familiar shows and movies.

After mentioning book banning, as he did in “The Parshah Rabbit Hole: Tetzaveh,” Taub references a clip from “Family Ties,” in which Steven Keaton, played by Michael Gross, tells his T.V. son Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox, “To think that book banning is actually bringing us closer together.”

The clips are used to “control the pacing of the videos,” and ensure segments don’t “go too long with a block of boringness,” Taub said.

The snippets, which include scenes from “Ghostbusters,” “Star Trek,” or the musings of Pee-wee Herman, also reveal the creative’s frenetic thoughts: “I’ve probably got very, pretty severe, ADHD, but I don’t know, because I can’t get around to actually making the appointments.”

“The Parshah Rabbit Hole” is available as a weekly vodcast and podcast. (Image courtesy of Dovid Taub)

Taub, 42, grew up in Deerfield, Illinois.

“I think the best way to describe my upbringing is that my family was the only family in our Reform shul on Sukkos. So, we weren’t frum but we were pretty frum for not being frum: we weren’t Orthodox but we were fairly observant,” he said.

After high school, Taub attended yeshivot in Brooklyn and Miami. He moved back to suburban Chicago, lived with his parents and began making puppets.

Puppetry wasn’t always the plan; as a child, Taub envisioned himself becoming an animator.

The problem, however, is that animation is “tedious and difficult, especially for somebody who doesn’t like sitting and doing things,” he said. Creating puppets “lets you just put the character on your hand and animate in real- time.”

Taub was a natural entertainer and quickly learned that puppets were a perfect medium to convey his talent.

In 2003, he and his friend Jonathan Goorvich developed “The Itche Kadoozy Show.”

Though initiated as “an experiment in puppetry,” the show resulted in more than 100 episodes, available on

Taube introduced dozens of new characters over the years. Eventually, he taught himself Adobe Character Animator, a program that combines animation and puppetry by enabling users to create 2-D characters and animate them through motion-capture.

His efforts resulted in various freelance assignments. But the difficulty with such employment, Taub told the Chronicle, is the deadlines: while trying to meet clients’ needs, he is also constantly thinking about personal passion projects.

A conversation with his wife Dena spurred a welcome distraction and new pursuit.

“Creative is a word that I use to describe myself all the time. Judaism is the thing that I’m passionate about. And it just kind of popped up and I wondered if that domain name is open,” he said.

It was, and Taub secured

The site is a storehouse for Taub’s projects. There’s the “Rabbit Hole” series.

There are also documents, including “Guide for the Bored” and “Shivim Panim L’Dreidel.”

Each, with their hilarious, thoughtful and sometimes irreverent takes, offer readers new access to Jewish holidays.

“Guide for the Bored” is a more than 20-page collection of “stuff to look at while you’re supposed to be davening” on the High Holidays. “Shivim Panim L’Dreidel” is a 10-page text of “insights and variations on the classic Chanukah game.”

There isn’t a paywall separating the public from Taub’s work.

“I’m an artist. I’m a creator. I make things. I don’t know if I’m good at it, but I’m better at it than anything else I try to do. And what I’m not good at is business,” he said.

His videos have already attracted 500 subscribers. There’s an option to donate to support the content. Taub hopes users feel compelled to give.

The approach is a combination of self-awareness, nonchalance and keen understanding of hashgacha pratit (Divine providence).

For years, the pattern has netted numerous unexpected successes.

In 2003, Taub wasn’t sure where making a gray-bearded puppet named Rabbi Itche Kadoozy would lead, but two decades later thousands of viewers worldwide have deemed the gravelly-voiced creation surprisingly relatable.

More than a decade ago, Taub and his colleagues created Shmideo, a puppetry arts company.

Since its founding, they have developed wacky, refined and entertaining work for clients, including Adobe, Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Something good can always result even if the outcome isn’t necessarily known, Taub explained.

A prime example occurred 13 years ago, when he and his wife were planning their next move. They had lived in Brooklyn and England — where Dena is from — and were considering whether to relocate to Chicago, where Taub’s parents lived.
At the time, Taub’s brother was living in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t know how he got here,” Taub said. “But he and his family were living here.”

The possibility of being close to family prompted a visit to western Pennsylvania.

“My wife loved the hills, and just the landscape, the texture of Pittsburgh, the community. We just kind of fell in love with it instantly. We moved here. And then a couple years later my brother moved to New York, and we stayed here,” he said. “So, it was kind of a fluke, a happy fluke.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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