265 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
    • 4.5, 2 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.

    The Big Pictures: Ep. 235

    The Big Pictures: Ep. 235

    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: Ep. 234

    Headspace: Ep. 234

    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.
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    • 1 hr
    Summer Reading: Ep. 233

    Summer Reading: Ep. 233

    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
    Talking it Out: Ep. 232

    Talking it Out: Ep. 232

    This week, we reflect on the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests that have spread across the world, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to decry racism and police violence.

    Our first guest is Jason Kirschner, Mark's first cousin and close friend from childhood. Their Northeast Jewish suburban upbringings were strikingly similar, except that Jason is black. The cousins catch up by phone, and discuss race for the first time.

    Then we talk to Rabbi Alex Ozar of Yale's Slifka Center for Jewish Life, who is writing his PhD on what Jewish ethics teach us about our responsibility for social justice, focusing on the work of Hannah Arendt, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Joseph Soloveitchik. He explains what our obligations are as Jews in the face of injustice.

    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.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Deep Cuts: Ep. 231

    Deep Cuts: Ep. 231

    This week on Unorthodox: Nazi alligators and Hitler's childhood home.

    First we talk to Naama Shefi of the Jewish Food Society, who returns to the show along with Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper, the fourth-generation owners of Russ and Daughters, to tell us about their work feeding healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can support the Jewish Food Society's initiative here.

    Then we sit down with Israeli musician Yair Nitzani, who talks about the strange reality of being a rock star in Israel (he'd head home on his moped after playing stadium shows), plus his work with the hit Israel band T-Slam and his Jon Stewart-inspired news satire television show.

    Have thoughts about 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.

    Join our Facebook group to get more Unorthodox and connect with other listeners. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram. Consider making a donation to Unorthodox if you like what you hear each week.

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

    Sponsors:

    "PsalmSeason: An Online Encounter with the Wisdom of the Psalms" is a new interfaith initiative that launched with a concert featuring 18 performances from artists around the world. Watch the concert at IFYC.org/psalmseason, and stay tuned for new personal reflections, poetry, and music every week for 18 weeks.

    The Institute for Jewish Spirituality has pioneered the development and teaching of Jewish mindfulness practices for over 20 years. Save $50 now by going to jewishspirituality.org and clicking on The Gift of Awareness.

    Harry's is a great shave at a great price. 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 2 min
    The Conversion Episode, 2020: Ep. 230

    The Conversion Episode, 2020: Ep. 230

    This week on Unorthodox, we're proud to present our third annual conversion episode. On Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that starts tonight at sundown, we read the Book of Ruth, which tells the story of a Moabite woman who converts to Judaism and becomes the great-great-grandmother of King David. Shavuot is the perfect time to celebrate those who convert to Judaism, and on today's episode you'll hear a variety of stories featuring Jews by choice and their different journeys. (Listen to our 2019 episode here and our 2018 episode here.)

    First, we hear from Lynn Hyde, a resident of Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, who was living a Jewish-adjacent life but was moved to undergo conversion following the Tree of Life shooting in 2018.

    Stephanie talks to two of her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters—her 'little little' and her 'little little little'—who are both in the process of converting. (One of them even sent Stephanie the mezuzah that she mounted on her doorpost in a previous episode)

    David Ben-Moshe shares his complex journey to Judaism, exposing some of the injustices within the American criminal justice system as well as the Israeli rabbinate’s standards for who is a Jew.

    We also hear from Rabbi Shira Stutman of Sixth and I in Washington, D.C., who has overseen more than 300 conversions in the DC area and for 10 years has led Jewish Welcome Worship, a year-long course designed for people in their 20s & 30s who want to learn more about Judaism and/or convert. She takes us behind the scenes on the other side of the conversion process, telling us about the different types of people she's encountered, why they want to convert, and why the Jewish partners can sometimes be a real pain.

    And finally, Alix Wall brings us the moving story of Vy Nguyen, who at 25 was diagnosed with an extremely rare soft-tissue cancer. She was raised Buddhist, but met with every chaplain at the hospital to see what their religion had to say about her predicament. Moved by the words of the hospital's Jewish chaplain, Dr. Bruce Feldstein, she began an Orthodox conversion, a process that continued throughout many hospitalizations and surgeries, and finally took her to the mikveh and then the chuppah.

    If you like what you heard today, please consider making a donation to Unorthodox. Your generous support allows us to continue bringing you ambitious episodes and reported features, and we're deeply grateful.

    Tell us what you thought 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.

    Join our Facebook group to get more Unorthodox and connect with other listeners. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

    Follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram.

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

    Shalom, friends.
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    • 1 hr 21 min

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