268 episodes

Unorthodox is the world’s leading Jewish podcast™ - but you don’t have to be Jewish to love it! Hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine, each episode we bring you interesting guests, News of the Jews, and so much more.

Unorthodox Tablet Magazine

    • Judaism
    • 4.8, 40 Ratings

Unorthodox is the world’s leading Jewish podcast™ - but you don’t have to be Jewish to love it! Hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine, each episode we bring you interesting guests, News of the Jews, and so much more.

    Investigating Histories

    Investigating Histories

    This week on Unorthodox, we’re observing Tisha B’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem. Observant Jews typically fast on this day, and because the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av falls during the summer months, it makes for one strange and somber day at Jewish summer camps.

    Because the destruction of the ancient temples can seem a bit, well, distant, the Ninth of Av has become in recent years a kind of catch-all day for Jewish mourning: a commemoration of all the historic suffering we’ve faced as a people.

    Today we’re focusing on the legacy of the Holocaust, as seen through three different families. Our guests are the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who pieced together their family’s story through research, travel, and interviews, and who now are sharing those stories in book—and podcast—form.

    Our first guest is Esther Safran Foer, whose memoir I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is about her journey to uncover what happened to her parents during the Holocaust. Tragedy followed her parents when they immigrated to America, and only later in life did her mother finally open up about her painful past.

    Next we speak with British musician Andrew Evans, who was raised in the Church of England but was inspired by Brexit to dig into his unspoken family history and uncover the true story of his Holocaust-surviving grandfather. He chronicles his discoveries in the podcast “Unbordered.”

    Our third guest is Daphne Geismar, a book maker by trade, who turned her craft on her own family’s story of survival in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. The result is her book Invisible Years.
    Let us know what you think of the show: Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.
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    Sponsors:

    The Great Courses Plus: With thousands of lectures on all kinds of topics presented by subject-matter experts from top universities and institutions, keep learning with the Great Courses Plus. Get a free trial with unlimited access at thegreatcoursesplus.com/UNORTHODOX.

    Harry's: Get a free Harry's trial shave set at harrys.com/unorthodox. Harry’s is donating $1 million worth of shaving supplies to hospitals across the U.S.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Backhanded Compliments

    Backhanded Compliments

    This week on Unorthodox, we're working on our topspin.

    Our first guest is Noah Rubin, a former Wimbledon junior singles champion who went pro at age 19. He tells us about his tennis-themed bar mitzvah, the reality of life on the professional circuit, and his project Behind the Racquet: a website and podcast that sheds light on the often overlooked mental health challenges that face professional tennis players.

    Our next guest is Jenny Caplan, who teaches religious studies and Jewish studies at Towson, and whose work focuses on expressions of Jewish identity in American pop culture. She tells us about her recent scholarly article, published in the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, that calls for retiring the Jewish American Princess archetype and replacing it with a new one: the Modern Ashkenazi-American Woman.

    Let us know what you think of the show! Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies here.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Tour Guides

    Tour Guides

    This week on Unorthodox, we puzzle over swastika jewelry and celebrities saying anti-Semitic things. We also hear from Zack Banner, the Pittsburgh Steelers player who spoke out against anti-Semitism. Read his full interview with Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg on tabletmag.com.

    Our Jewish guest is Brad Kolodny, author of Seeking Sanctuary: 125 Years of Synagogues on Long Island, a photo-filled survey of Jewish life in the New York City suburb. He tells us about some of the most iconic synagogues in the area, and quizzes Stephanie about Jewish celebrities from Long Island.

    Next we hear from three people behind the Jewish book and film festivals in Wyomissing PA, all of whom are gentiles. Nancy Russo, Amanda Hornberger, and John Nelka tell us how they became involved in Jewish arts programming, and what they've learned along the way.

    Let us know what you think of the show! Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies here.

    Sponsors:

    This episode is sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s new online retreat-at-home, running Sunday, July 19 through Tuesday, July 21. Go to jewishspirituality.org to learn more and register.

    Sponsors:

    This episode is sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s new online retreat-at-home, running Sunday, July 19 through Tuesday, July 21. Go to jewishspirituality.org to learn more and register.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 6 min
    The Big Pictures

    The Big Pictures

    This week on Unorthodox, we're talking Yiddish, curse words, and much more.

    Our first guest is return Gentile of the Week John McWhorter, linguist and host of the Lexicon Valley podcast. John was a guest on the show back in 2016, and then we did an Unorthodox/Lexicon Valley crossover episode the following year. He returned to the show to tell us all about his upcoming book on curse words (note: this segment is definitely NSFW) and his enduring love of Yiddish. In addition to that interview, which was recorded in May, we check back in with McWhorter to discuss America's racial reckoning, and the language that surrounds it.

    Then we hear from Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, an organization that supports women in Orthodox Jewish spaces. She tells us about the custom in some Orthodox communities in Israel and the U.S. to exclude images of women and girls from newspapers, advertisements, and even health brochures, which she is working to change.

    As always, let us know what you think of the show. Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies here.

    Sponsors:

    Harry's: Get a free Harry's trial shave set—complete with a 5-blade razor with a weighted ergonomic grip, rich lathering shave gel, and a travel blade cover—at harrys.com/unorthodox.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Headspace

    Headspace

    This week on Unorthodox, we explore the role Jews played in the American psychedelic movement of the 1950s and 60s, and learn why some rabbis and spiritual leaders today are advocating for using psychedelics to unlock Jewish spiritual experiences.

    First, we talk to Jesse Jarnow, author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America, who tells us about the emergence of psychedelic use in mid-century America, and the many Jews involved in that countercultural scene.

    Then, contributor Alix Wall brings us the story of three Jews—a Holocaust survivor, a Bay Area rabbi, and a Harvard professor-turned-guru—who all advocate for psycheledics playing a larger role in our personal and communal lives.

    Featured in this segment is Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, who is undergoing certification by the California Institute for Integral Studies to become the first rabbinic psychedelic guide. He wants to rekindle the mystical core of Jewish tradition, allowing Jews to connect with the divine through safe and supported experiences using a clinical model within a distinctly Jewish context.

    Also featured is George Sarlo, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor from Hungary whose guided experience with ayahuasca in Mexico healed his childhood trauma and lifelong depression, and also brought him back into the Jewish community. He established the George Sarlo Foundation to provide funding and research for the use of psychedelics to treat addiction and trauma. Dr. Gabor Maté was the friend who convinced Sarlo to try psychedelics as treatment for trauma, an approach pionered by Dutch psychiatrist Jan Bastiaans, who treated hundreds of Holocaust survivors with psychedelic drugs.

    As always, let us know what you think of the show. Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr
    Summer Reading

    Summer Reading

    This week on Unorthodox, three books to add to your summer reading list.

    Our first guest is historian and U.C.L.A professor Sarah Abrevaya Stein, who is the author of Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century. She tells us how she pieced together the Levy family story across generations and continents through their correspondence, what this family's journey can teach us about the global Sephardic experience, and what the records we leave behind today might look like to future historians.

    Next we talk to David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter and, most recently The Soul of an Entrepreneur: Work and Life Beyond the Startup Myth. He explains the value of analog products and ideas in today's tech-saturated climate, argues that true entrepreneurs aren't the Silicon Valley disrupters we read about in the news, and makes the case for entrepreneurship as an often necessary Jewish habit.

    Our final guest is Daniel Torday, who teaches creative writing at Bryn Mawr college and whose latest novel is BOOMER1, a tale of ageist angst taken to farcical and violent extremes. He tells us why our current cultural and economic moment is ripe for resentment towards Baby Boomers (Americans born roughly between 1946 and 1964), why intergenerational strife was such a compelling topic to take on, and what it's like to have his novel exist in the world alongside memes like 'OK Boomer.'

    Let us know what you think of the show! Email us at unorthodox@tabletmag.com or leave us a voicemail at (914) 570-4869. You can also record a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to us.

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, sweatshirts, and baby onesies here.

    Consider making a donation to Unorthodox.

    Sponsors:

    Masa Israel: Whether you’re interested in making a career change, volunteering, or just finding a new adventure, join young professionals from around the world and experience Israeli society first-hand through one of Masa Israel’s career development programs. If you or someone you know is looking to make next year meaningful and productive, visit masaisrael.org/unorthodox.
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    • 1 hr 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

JaneN10 ,

You don’t have to be Jewish.....

As a North London Jew, Unorthodox has introduced me to so many other facets of being Jewish. I love the intelligent and humorous way the hosts approach every topic from the Talmud to how to park with equal care.

As a result of listening to Unorthodox I have read books, had conversations and researched subjects I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Bradfordpol ,

British fan

I’m a British Christian but, living in North London, I have lots of Jewish friends and colleagues. I’ve been interested in Judaism for a long time but always feared my knowledge was lacking! This podcast is my new favourite thing and has taught me so much - it’s informative, sometimes witty, and all in all a real joy - I look forward to each new episode and would like to send you a big mazel tov for such a great podcast.

LilachMalkah ,

Love Unorthodox

Love my weekly dose of Stephanie, Liel and Mark. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, but more often than not they make me think without being heavy or academic. My rabbi mentioned this podcast at the beginning of my daughter’s bat mitzvah studies about 18 months ago and now it’s a regular part of my life. My son’s Hebrew teacher is Israeli and does the “eh… eh” sound which my son now imitates and it always makes me think of Liel. I like the combination of personalities and I’m often amused to find out which of you I agree with on a given topic it’s often not what I predicted at the start. Please, please, please consider a trip to the UK to record in front of a live audience here and you can try a Carmelli’s bagel while you are here!

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