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.




Neighborhood Watch: Ep. 154

This week on Unorthodox, we're on patrol. We talk to Ruchie Freier, the founder of Ezras Nashim, the first all-female volunteer ambulance in New York City, founded and staffed by Hasidic women in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Ruchie and Ezras Nashim are the subject of the documentary '93Queen', made by filmmaker Paula Eiselt, who also joins us. Ruchie Freier is a New York City Criminal Court judge, and the first Hasidic woman to hold elected office in the US. Paula Eiselt is an independent...


Einstein on the Mound: Ep. 153

This week on Unorthodox, we're still recovering from all the Jewish holidays. Our Jewish guest is Benyamin Cohen, host of the weekly podcast "Our Friend from Israel." He's also the guy who manages the official social media feeds for Albert Einstein, which might just be the best job ever. He tells us about tweeting for the late genius, plus his journey into megachurches while writing his 2009 book, “My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith." Our gentile...


Texting with Barney Miller: Ep. 152

This week on Unorthodox, we're going down to the station. Our guests are Hal Linden and Ryan Ochoa, who co-star in the new film The Samuel Project. Linden is best known for his portrayal of police precinct captain Barney Miller in the eponymous TV series, which aired from 1975-1982 (millennials, you can binge it on Amazon Prime), but his prolific six-decade career has included perfomances on stage and in film. Ochoa is an actor and musician who has appeared in the Disney series "Pair of...


Farm to Sukkah: Ep. 151

This week on Unorthodox, we're celebrating the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot! Farmers and Etrogs and more! Who says Jews don't farm? Stephanie Butnick reports from Petaluma, CA, where activist Jews fleeing Eastern Europe in the early 1900s settled and became chicken ranchers. The politically-minded chicken-farming Jews of Petaluma even got a visit from Golda Meir! What's Sukkot all about anyway? And what's with the lulav and etrog? Liel Leibovitz and producer Josh Kross head to West...


The Apology Episode: 5779 Edition: Ep. 150

This week on Unorthodox, we're really, really sorry. We're marking the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with our annual apology show. We're joined again this year by Tablet contributor Marjorie Ingall, who runs the website SorryWatch, which analyzes apologies in the news. She goes over the best and worst public apologies of 5778, and offers tips for how to make a meaningful apology. Storyteller Hal Karp tells of how, during a particularly dark period of his life, he goaded...


Unorthodox Turns 3! Ep. 149

Happy birthday to us! We're celebrating three years of Unorthodox with a very special episode featuring our hosts, producers, and Tablet staffers reflecting on some of our most memorable segments. Tablet editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse revisits our very first episode, and shares her initial doubts about our audio adventure; host Liel Leibovitz reflects on his contentious Ep. 25 interview with Jewish Voice for Peace's Rebecca Vilkomerson, and what he learned from the interaction; and Tablet...


Operation Unorthodox: Ep. 148

This week on Unorthodox, we're all about Eichmann. We sit down with Operation Finale director Chris Weitz and actor Nick Kroll to discuss the new film, which depicts the 1960 covert mission to capture Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi architect of the Final Solution, who was living under an assumed identity in Argentina. Kroll, who is best known as a comic actor, plays Rafi Eitan, the Shin Bet leader who coordinated the mission, alongside Oscar Isaac as legendary Mossad agent Peter Malkin, Ben...


Keeping the Faith: Ep. 147

This week on Unorthodox, the producers take over while Mark, Liel, and Stephanie are off having summer fun. Shira, Noah, and Josh bring you three stories of people sharing, studying and challenging their faith. First up, Unorthodox couples counseling. Listeners Ken Rosen and Elettra Pauletto came to us to discuss their pre-marriage anxieties about conversion, kids, and Jewish practice. Second, Shira sits down with her favorite gentile, Harvard Divinity School professor Charles Stang, to...


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 with...


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 what...


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 Moskowitz, 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: Ep. 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 died 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: 914-570-4869. We...


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 both...


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...