Spies Like Us

Ep. 181: Comedian Pete Holmes and journalist Matti Friedman

May 16, 2019

This week on Unorthodox, spies, sex, and comedy!

Our Jewish guest is journalist Matti Friedman, whose newest book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, explores the little-known story of four Mizrahi Jews who went undercover as Arabs during the time of the country’s founding. He tells us how the story of these young Jewish men from Arab countries, who risked their lives as part of a ragtag intelligence unit, adds texture to the overwhelmingly Ashkenazi narrative of Israel’s founding.

Our gentile of the week is Pete Holmes, who talks to us about his new book, Comedy Sex God, his HBO show Crashing, and his journey from being raised Evangelical Christian to becoming a follower of spiritual teacher Ram Dass.

Join us Wednesday, May 29, at 8 p.m. at the Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center for a live taping with Leon Neyfakh, host of the podcasts Slow Burn and the forthcoming Fiasco, and FiveThirtyEight writer and podcaster Clare Malone. Get your tickets here.

We’re heading to Chicago! Join us Wednesday, June 26 at 7 p.m. at the Logan Square Auditorium with special guest Blair Braverman, who recently became the second Jewish woman to complete the Iditarod. Presented with Hadassah Chicago-North Shore. Get your tickets here.

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This episode is sponsored by Unpacked, a new series of Jewish educational videos from Jerusalem U that offer a complete history of modern day Israel, 10 minutes at a time. Check it out at

We’re also sponsored by, with nearly 400 summer programs for Jewish teens to choose from, ranging from domestic and international travel to internships and more. New York-area teens are eligible for scholarships to select programs. Find your program at

Additional support comes from Harry’s. Get your free trial shave set at

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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