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The Unorthodox Conversion Episode, 2021

Celebrating Shavuot with stories from rapper Nissim Black, reporter Nellie Bowles, novelist Jessamyn Hope, a ‘Viking Jewess,’ and more, plus a program that fast-tracks conversions for IDF soldiers

May 13, 2021
Ben Tuber
Ben Tuber
Ben Tuber
Ben Tuber

This week on Unorthodox, we’re proud to present our fourth-annual conversion episode. On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, which tells the story of the first convert to Judaism. To celebrate Ruth and all the Jews by choice since then, we’re sharing stories of conversion from all over the world.

First, an interview with New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles, who has been chronicling her conversion process in her online newsletter, “Chosen by Choice.”

Tablet Fellow Nina Lichtenstein describes converting for her Jewish husband (and her Jewish mother-in-law) more than two decades ago, and staying Jewish for herself after their divorce.

Rapper Nissim Black shares his spiritual journey, which took him from devout Christianity to gangster rap and finally to Orthodox Judaism.

Novelist Jessamyn Hope tells the story of her Italian Catholic mother’s conversion to Reform Judaism, and the many conflicted feelings Jessamyn had about it throughout her own life.

Tablet Fellow Elie Bleier brings us a report from Israel about Nativ, a program that expedites conversions for soldiers serving in the IDF who aren’t considered Jewish by the rabbinate.

Plus, stories from our listeners about their own conversion experiences.

Want more Unorthodox? Listen to our previous conversion episodes:

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Unorthodox, the No. 1 Jewish-themed podcast, 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 episodes here and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.