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 (one Jewish and one gentile), News of the Jews, and so much more.

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 (one Jewish and one gentile), News of the Jews, and so much more.
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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 (one Jewish and one gentile), News of the Jews, and so much more.




Call Us By Your Name: Ep. 146

This week on Unorthodox, we're wining and dining. Our Jewish guest is author Andre Aciman, whose 2007 novel Call Me By Your Name was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet. He tells us about being forced to leave Egypt with his family as a teenager, getting recognized on the Upper West Side after the film premiered, and his absolute favorite coffeemaker. Our gentile of the week is journalist Kevin Begos, whose new book is Tasting the Past: The...


If I Were a Fiddler: Ep. 145

Tradition, tradition! In honor of a new Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof, we're heading back to Anatevka. Our Jewish guest is Rachel Zatcoff, who plays Tzeitel in The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Off-Broadway production, Fidler afn Dakh. Our Gentile of the week is James Monroe Števko, who plays Mendl, the rabbi's son. They tell us about learning Yiddish for the show and what it's like working with director Joel Grey and Jackie Hoffman, who plays Yenta. We also sit down...


The JAP Show–Live: Ep. 144

This week on Unorthodox: Is it OK to say 'JAP'? We were joined by Odd Mom Out's Jill Kargman, Broadway legend Tovah Feldshuh, and Jewish Women's Archive director Judith Rosenbaum at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan last week for a lively discussion and debate about the Jewish American Princess stereotype–its origins, implications, and cultural staying power. We also screened a short film we made about the JAP stereotype, which you can watch here, and heard from audience members about...


The One With the Mitzvah Tank: Ep. 143

"Hi, are you Jewish?" It's a question you may have been asked in any number of towns or cities by a smiling bearded man wearing a yarmulke. It's one of the trademarks of Chabad, the Hasidic movement that dispatches its young men around town to help Jewish strangers perform a mitzvah—Jewish women are offered Shabbat candles, and Jewish men are encouraged to put on tefillin. We've always been fascinated with this practice, with some of us finding it charming and others, frankly, terrifying....


Jews Across America: Ep. 142

In honor of July 4th, we're celebrating the diversity of American Jewish life—which, as we've learned, goes well beyond eating bagels on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Up first, we get a crash course in the history of Jews in the South from Stuart Rockoff, who created the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, a rich online resource from the Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Next, Sammy Potter tells us about driving an hour to synagogue from his home in Yarmouth, ME, and why he...


Losing It: Ep. 141

This week on Unorthodox, we have three special guests. Jonathan Ornstein is the executive director of the JCC Krakow, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. With more than 10,000 visitors a month, the JCC is at the center of a Jewish revival in Poland, that Ornstein, a New York native, is witnessing—and cultivativating—firsthand. We also talk with Gabi Birkner and Rebecca Soffer of Modern Loss, a website that aims to make conversations about grief less fraught and awkward. Their...


Roots and Boots: Ep. 140

This week on Unorthodox, we’re all about food and futbol. Our Jewish guest is writer and food historian Michael Twitty, whose book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, won two James Beard Awards this year. He describes being told that a book by a black, Jewish, gay man would never succeed (and how it felt to prove them wrong!), explains how most of the foods we eat today originated in Africa, and tells us why Jewish food is more than just...


Kung Fu Naches: Ep. 139

This week on Unorthodox, we talk to Rabbi Mike Moskovitz, the new scholar in residence for trans and queer Jewish studies at CBST, the world's largest LGBTQ synagogue. He's the first Orthodox rabbi at the New York City synagogue, and he explains how Judaism, even at its most observant, can make room for transgender adherents—and how Jews could learn a lot from the trans community. We're also joined by Gentile of the week Matthew Polly, whose latest book is Bruce Lee: A Life. He tells us...


People of the Book: Episode 138

For our first book club episode, we talk to Israeli-born writer Ruby Namdar about his ambitious second book, The Ruined House, which won Israel's most prestigious literary award and was recently translated into English. The book is set in New York City, where he's lived for the past 18 years, and follows a charming and successful professor named Andrew P. Cohen as he descends into a very peculiar kind of madness. Ruby tells us why he made his protagonist such a specific male archetype, and...


A Philip Roth Bonus Minisode

Philip Roth passed away on May 22, 2018, and we wanted to bring you a few pieces while you wait for our next episode. First up, Mark Oppenheimer visited The Gist to talk with host Mike Pesca about Roth's place in the literary and Jewish canon. Plus, our editor Noah Levinson goes on the Newark public library's tour around the Weequahic neighborhood where Roth grew up. We love hearing from our listeners! Email us at or leave a message at our listener line:...


Telling Truths: Ep. 137

This week on Unorthodox, Liel prepares for his role as honorary grand marshal at New York City's Celebrate Israel Parade on June 3. Our Jewish guest is Yossi Klein Halevi, senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and the author of 'Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.' He tells us how he, as a religious Jew in Jerusalem, came to understand the Palestinian perspective, why he framed the book as a letter to an imagined interlocutor, and the crucial need to recognize that...


The Conversion Episode: Ep 136

On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, which tells the story of Ruth, the first convert to Judaism, who ultimately becomes the great-grandmother of King David. In Ruth's honor, this week we're talking about conversion to Judaism, and hearing stories from people around the globe who have chosen to become Jewish—starting with our listeners. Reporter Abby Holtzman travels to Savannah, Georgia, to bring us the story of a 13-year-old girl who has taken the plunge, literally, to convert to...


Motherhood, Burgers, and Bacon: Ep. 135

Our Jewish guest this week is Peninah Lamm Kaplansky, who in 2015 wrote a candid and moving account of her miscarriage, at 21 weeks, and the need for more resources and discussion surrounding infertility and miscarriage in Jewish communities. Our Gentile of the Week is Sister Julia Walsh, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and a Catholic youth minister. Sister Julia tells us about the painful decision to give up motherhood, something she had always dreamed of, when she entered the...


Checks and Balances: Ep. 134

It's Lag Ba'Omer, aka the 33rd day of the Omer, aka the period between Passover and Shavuot! Our Jewish guest is Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose new book, 'With Liberty & Justice: The 50-Day Journey from Egypt to Sinai,' explores the importance of the Omer. He tells us about being one of the most publically observant Jews in politics, why he never wore a yarmulke in the Senate, and whether the Gore White House would have had a kosher kitchen. Our Gentile of the week is Skylar Inman, the host of...


Knocked Out: Ep. 133

Natalie Portman won't accept 'Jewish Nobel Prize' in Israel, plus Jewish artichoke drama in Italy. Our Jewish guest is Rachel Simmons, the author of Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives. Rachel explains the pressures facing young girls in America today, how we can support our daughters and nieces and friends, and whether things are any better at Jewish schools. Our gentile of the week is Linda Curtis,...


Sabra Cadabra: Ep. 132

This week on Unorthodox, we're celebrating 70 years of Israeli food, music, and culture in honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's independence day. First, we're joined by writer and comedian Periel Aschenbrand, who tells us what it's like to be married to an Israeli man. Next We check out the newest outpost of Israeli chef Eyal Shani's pita empire, Miznon, here in New York, and chat with Shani over his world famous cauliflower pita. We also chat with Israeli singer and activist Yael Deckelbaum,...


Walk With Me, Unorthodox: Ep. 131

This week on Unorthodox, a crossover episode! We're joined by Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway, hosts of The West Wing Weekly podcast, an episode-by-episode discussion of one of television's most beloved shows. Malina, who played Will Bailey on The West Wing, currently stars in Scandal, which will air its series finale later this month. Hirway, a musician and composer, is the creator and host of the Song Exploder podcast. We talk about revisiting the glory days of early aughts TV...


Ask Unorthodox: Passover Edition: Ep. 130

Download your free copy of the Unorthodox Haggadah! This week on Unorthodox, everything you ever wanted to know about Passover. We answer listener questions, writer Roya Hakakian tells us about Persian Passover traditions, including scallion whipping at the Seder, and producer Josh Kross’s mother-in-law Elsie Apfelbaum shares the magic of Mimouna, the Moroccan festival celebrating the end of Passover (with some help from Josh’s daughter Stella). Jay Miah tells the story of how his father...


Snowfu: Ep. 129

Proof that Jews don't control the weather? Our live show was cancelled due to snow in the New York area. But thanks to a pre-Passover miracle we were able to record an interview with our gentile of the week, Bart Campolo, in producer Josh Kross' living room. (With everyone's kids, since school was cancelled.) Bart is evangelical royalty—his father, Tony Campolo, is one of the leaders of the Evangelical left—but from a young age he knew he didn't believe in god. He talked the talk for 30...


Leading the Pack : Ep: 128

Our Jewish guest this week is Leah Sarna, a student at Yeshivat Maharat, the first yeshiva to ordain women as Orthodox Jewish clergy. She explains the institutional conflict over female ordination in the Orthodox community and tells us what her role will be at an Orthodox congregation in Chicago after graduation —and what title she’ll go by. Our Gentile of the week is writer Lauren Oyler, who tells us why honest cultural criticism is more important than ever, and recommends some books for...