Kung Fu Naches

Ep. 139: Bruce Lee biographer Matthew Polly on the martial-arts legend’s Jewish ancestry, Orthodox Rabbi Mike Moskowitz on becoming a scholar in residence at the world’s largest LGBTQ synagogue, and more

June 14, 2018

This week on Unorthodox, we’ve got a lot going on. We talk to Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, the newly minted 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, has room for transgender people—and how all Jews could learn a lot about identity from the trans community.

We’re joined by gentile of the week Matthew Polly, whose latest book is Bruce Lee: A Life. He tells us about Lee’s continued influence in not just martial arts but also Hollywood, describes his own two-year study of kung fu at the Shaolin Temple in China, and shares a surprising discovery he made while researching the book: Bruce Lee is one-eighth Jewish!

Mark sits down with our Jewish guest, Arnold Gorlick, owner of Madison Art Cinemas, one of the country’s last great arthouses. He tells Mark about growing up in Brooklyn as the son of an appetizer-store owner before moving to Connecticut and devoting himself to indie movies.

And in honor of Father’s Day, we’re airing Liel’s moving story about fatherhood, and his own father, which he shared at a Moth storytelling event.

Our next live show is July 18 at the JCC Manhattan, and it’s an episode devoted to the question, “Is it OK to say ‘JAP’”? Jill Kargman of Odd Mom Out joins us to screen a short film we made about the persistence of the Jewish American Princess stereotype. We’ll follow with a lively discussion with guests including Judith Rosenbaum of the Jewish Women’s Archive and Bat Sheva Marcus of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, audience questions, and much more. Get your tickets here.

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Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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