Ep. 234: Meet the Jews at the forefront of the psychedelic movement, in the 1950s and today
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 midcentury 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. This segment was produced by Noah Levinson.
As always, let us know what you think of the show. Email us at [email protected] 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.
Get your Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies here.
- UnorthodoxGood SportsEp. 323: Hindu monk Swami Tyagananda on spirituality and the modern world, and forthcoming Tablet Studios podcast host Meredith Shiner on a Sandy Koufax tribute at Dodger StadiumJune 30, 2022
- UnorthodoxStage HandEp. 322: The new Jewish star of Broadway’s ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ plus how the Krakow JCC is helping Ukrainian refugees, talking to LGBTQ Jews, and moreJune 23, 2022
- UnorthodoxMixed GrillEp. 320: Restaurateurs Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook bring their Israeli skewer house to Brooklyn, journalist James Kirchick uncovers Washington, D.C.’s ‘Secret History’June 9, 2022
- UnorthodoxThe Conversion Episode, 2022Ep. 319: Our fifth annual Shavuot celebration of Jews by choice, featuring stories from Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem May 26, 2022
- UnorthodoxUnorthodox Comes Alive!Ep. 318: Congresswoman Elaine Luria and NFL hall-of-famer Bruce Smith, live from Virginia BeachMay 19, 2022
- UnorthodoxBig Bang SliceEp. 317: ‘Jeopardy!’ host Mayim Bialik on her ‘very, very Jewish’ new film, plus Eddie Chang on Buy Nothing groups, and a ‘Licorice Pizza’ reviewMay 12, 2022
- UnorthodoxThe MothershipEp. 316: Jewish Fertility Foundation; Ester Steinberg’s postpartum comedy special; a Fragile X diagnosis; a complicated college graduationMay 5, 2022
- UnorthodoxPuzzling ThroughEp. 315: A.J. Jacobs on crosswords, riddles, and Wordle, plus director Barry Levinson’s new film, ‘The Survivor’April 28, 2022
- UnorthodoxRootless CosmopolitansEp. 314: Barry Manilow on his new musical ‘Harmony,’ Andy Markovits on the power of a passport, and Tablet’s Maggie Phillips on religious literacyApril 21, 2022
- UnorthodoxBonus: Passover MelodiesMusician Josh Warshawsky sings us through the SederApril 14, 2022
- UnorthodoxA Passover to RememberEp. 313: Our hosts make this ancient holiday feel personal, relevant, and meaningfulApril 7, 2022
- UnorthodoxWhat’s Cookin’?Ep. 312: Massachusetts State Sen. Eric Lesser on inaugurating the Obama White House Seders, and Unorthodox producer Quinn Waller on learning to make chicken soup for PassoverMarch 31, 2022
- UnorthodoxWe Are FamilyEp. 311: Julie Platt on Jewish Federations (and her talented Jewish family), and Father Thomas Soroka on Orthodox ChristianityMarch 24, 2022
- UnorthodoxParty OnEp. 310: Reveling on Purim, celebrating 100 years of the bat mitzvah, and revisiting a ‘Preppy Handbook’ parodyMarch 17, 2022
- UnorthodoxPosted NotesEp. 309: A deep dive into our mailbox, plus TikTok sax star Evan Jacobson and journalist Shawn SetaroMarch 10, 2022
- UnorthodoxRocking and RollingEp. 308: Shlock Rock’s Lenny Solomon and Jane Austen scholar Devoney LooserMarch 3, 2022
- UnorthodoxGoing PlacesEp. 307: Tablet’s Armin Rosen and Vladislav Davidzon offer a window into UkraineFebruary 24, 2022
- UnorthodoxChasing MemoriesEp. 306: Tablet’s Wayne Hoffman on solving a family murder mysteryFebruary 17, 2022