(JTA) — It sounds like a too-good-to-be-true social media stunt — a rabbi, a priest, and a gay atheist smoking marijuana together, talking about spirituality, and bonding over a shared hope for peace in one eight-minute video.
But digital content producers Cut have made all of that happen. The Seattle-based company’s video, uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday, has over eight million views as of Thursday morning.
To assuage any doubts about authenticity, it is worth noting that the video’s participants are real people. They are Rabbi Jim Mirel, rabbi emeritus at Temple B’nai Torah, a Reform synagogue in Bellevue, Washington; Reverend Chris Schuller, a former Episcopalian rector at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida; and Carlos Diller, a self-described conservative homosexual atheist.
Part of Mirel’s interest in the recreational drug might stem from his experience as a musician. A page on the online-only Washington Jewish Museum describes Mirel as an “accomplished” klezmer player who helped found “Music of Remembrance,” a classical music ensemble that commemorates Holocaust victims through commissioned works.
“I’m here to experience one of God’s creations,” he says towards the beginning of the video.
Schuller recently left the Episcopal Church to “minister outside of its boundaries.”
While he says that he hasn’t smoked since high school, he recently starred in a different online video praising marijuana and arguing that it should be legal and regulated like alcohol.
“Thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first,” Schuller says in that video.
Diller, who spent time in Baptist and Roman Catholic churches growing up, is the advanced weed-smoking pro in the group — and he helps Schuller use a bong properly in the video. Mirel looks comfortable with a joint on his own throughout the smoking session and requires no help to imbibe.
After some typical high-minded conversation (like a debate over the existence of a god), Mirel says that the anointing oil found in the Book of Exodus had some qualities that would “elevate” the user, and that one theory says that the oil came from the hemp plant.
Then the rabbi blesses both the priest and the atheist in Hebrew. Schuller says he got chills at the word “Shalom,” or peace.
“If [marijuana] lifts you up and gives you something, a new view of life, it’s a very positive thing,” Mirel says.