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“Unorthodox” 101

Everything you wanted to know about the universe’s leading Jewish podcast, plus some of our favorite episodes

by
Unorthodox
February 02, 2021

Welcome to Unorthodox, a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture. We are the universe’s leading Jewish podcast, according to iTunes and other rabbinic authorities, with more than 250 episodes and five million downloads.

Launched in 2015 by Tablet Magazine, we release a new episode every Thursday morning, which you can receive right to your phone by subscribing here. Every show is about an hour, and features a fun survey of the News of the Jews—reports about anything from Jewish candidates for political office to the latest anti-Semitic conspiracy theories—followed by two interviews: a Jew of the Week and a Gentile of the Week. The show is hosted by Tablet staffers Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz, who agree on very little and yet manage to have loving, hilarious, and occasionally profound conversations.

Sound interesting? Check us out for yourself with these introductory episodes, which, if we may say so ourselves, are some of our best to date.

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Some of our favorite episodes:

On Squirrel HillIn the wake of the 2018 massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, we offered a testament to the city’s Jewish community, recorded on the ground from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

The Golden Rule: Recorded live at the JCC in Manhattan, this episode brings together two of our all-time favorite guests: Comedian Judy Gold and Jesuit priest Father James Martin, both as insightful as they are hilarious.

The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia: In honor of the 2019 publication of our fun and thoughtful and thoroughly modern Jewish encyclopedia, we put together a special episode featuring everything from celebrity appearances to surprisingly profound discussions of some of Judaism’s core ideas, traditions, and historical figures.

What’s in a Name?: Almost every family has a story of a last name changed in Ellis Island. But when our producer Noah Levinson went investigating what really happened at that famous port of entry, what he found was surprising…

The Nose Job Episode: We look at rhinoplasty—and its particular prominence in American Jewish life—from every angle: feminist, historical, and more.

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Some of our favorite guests:

Big Mouths: Comedian Nick Kroll returned to the show to talk about his raunchy Netflix show Big Mouth, Jewish day school Purim talent shows, and his bar mitzvah horror story.

Chai Fidelity: We talked to Nick Hornby, the English author of High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, About a Boy, about the new adaptation of High Fidelity, what music means to the kids today, and how his puzzle hobby kept him busy in quarantine.

Let’s Stay Together: Actress Michaela Watkins talked to Stephanie about playing Jewish (and non-Jewish) characters, how she reconnected with her Judaism through the organization Reboot, and the ways her Jewish identity impacts her political activism.

Funny Business: California’s 49th District Congresswoman Katie Porter joined us with her trademark whiteboard to explain why she decided to run for Congress in 2018, why she’s optimistic about voting, and why child care is key to our economic recovery. Her gentile-of-the-week question: Why do Jews donate money in increments of $18?

Friendly Faces: Comedian Gilbert Gottfried came on the show to talk about his podcast, regaled us with the story of his family’s famous Zoom bat mitzvah incident, and explained why why comedy in dark times is essential and cathartic.

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Some of our favorite holiday episodes:

Our Socially Distanced Seder Guide: Everything you need to host a meaningful, DIY Passover Seder during a pandemic.

The Conversion Episode, 2019: Inspired by the biblical Ruth, the most famous convert to Judaism, we dedicate an episode every year to celebrate Jews by choice. This episode features a heartwarming—and heartbreaking—audio diary of a mother as she takes the final plunge in her conversion process, a story of two friends who support each other through spiritual and emotional tribulations, and more.

Can’t get enough conversion stories? Check out The Conversion Episode 2020 and 2018.

The Apology Episode, 5780: Every year, just before Yom Kippur, we take the time to talk about apologies. In this episode, we welcome our in-house apology expert to teach us how to say sorry and mean it, and tell the story of a Neshama Carlebach, a singer and songwriter whose life was turned upside-down when her late father, the legendary rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, was accused of inappropriate behavior.

One apology’s never enough. Listen to The Apology Episode in 5781, 5779, 5778, 5777 and 5776.

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Got questions? Email us at [email protected]. We also do live shows across the country—let us know if you’re interested in booking us. Check out our calendar of events here.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get new episodes, photos, and more.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at our recording sessions on ourYouTube channel! Join our Facebook group, and follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram. You can find Unorthodox T-shirts, mugs, and baby onesies at bit.ly/unorthoshirt.

Unorthodox, the No. 1 Jewish-themed podcast on iTunes, 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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