A Very Jewish Christmas

Ep. 162: Def Jam alum Bill Adler on his annual Christmas playlist, and ‘Die Hard’ screenwriter Steven de Souza on why the Bruce Willis classic is the ultimate Christmas movie

December 20, 2018

‘Tis the season—for Chinese food and a movie!

Our first Jewish guest is Bill Adler, the Def Jam alum who helped Run DMC create their iconic 1987 song, “Christmas in Hollis.” He tells us how he went from being a music journalist to the second full-time employee at Def Jam in the 1980s; how “Christmas in Hollis,” ended up on the soundtrack of films like Die Hard, and how his distaste for cliched holiday music led him to make an annual Christmas playlist for friends and family, and now, you! Listen to Adler’s 2018 Christmas Jollies mix here.

We also talk to Steven de Souza, the Hollywood screenwriter responsible for films like Commando, Judge Dredd, and, of course, Die Hard. He tells us how the Bruce Willis character was actually originated by Frank Sinatra, the origin of the movie’s epic “yippee ki yay” catchphrase, and why Die Hard is even more of a Christmas movie than White Christmas.

We’re hitting the road in 2019! Come see us January 15 at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C. It’s free—register here. We’ll be at the Stroum JCC in the Seattle area February 2 for a special live show with Dan Savage, of the Savage Lovecast. Get your tickets here.

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This episode is sponsored by Harry’s. Get $5 off any shave set–including the limited-edition holiday sets–when you go to

Additional support comes from JChef, the new kosher meal kit. Go to and use coupon code Unorthodox30 to get 30 percent off your first order.

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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