[MOVED] Unorthodox

Tablet is the web's top destination for Jewish news and culture, and on Unorthodox its writers say stuff their editors can't edit out. From Israel to American elections, from Drake (yes, he's Jewish) to Amy Schumer, host Mark Oppenheimer and guests—including a special Gentile of the Week—offer frank, funny takes on the news of the Jews.
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[MOVED] Unorthodox


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Oct 29, 2015

This week marks the thirteenth episode of Unorthodox, and we’re ready to party like it’s our bar mitzvah all over again.


Our Jewish guest is Wayne Hoffman, executive editor of Tablet and the author of several novels. His latest is An Older Man, which follows 42-year-old Moe Pearlman (the protagonist from Hoffman’s first novel, Hard, about New York City’s gay scene in the 1990s), as he deals with getting older and finding companionship during Bear Week in Provincetown, MA. Hoffman discusses bear culture and what’s changed for the gay community since the days of Hard.


Our non-Jewish guest is Elvis Harvey, a dog trainer on the Upper West Side who’s gotten to know quite a few Jews since moving his business to New York City from Texas. He talks about the difference between Jewish and Catholic (as well as liberal and conservative) dog owners.


We love hearing from you. Email with questions, comments, or complaints. We’ll share our favorites on the air.


You can learn more about Wayne Hoffman's books at


You can find information about Elvis Harvey at


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Oct 22, 2015

This week on Unorthodox, James Franco’s star-studded bar mitzvah for charity (seriously, it raised $2.5 million); a viral video celebrating—with spoken word poetry—the diversity of the Jewish people; and how Malcolm Gladwell can help us understand the recent rash of violent stabbing attacks in Israel.

Our Jewish guest is Shulem Deen, whose moving memoir, All Who Go Do Not Return, describes his journey out of the Skverer Hasidic sect. Deen—who’s now on the board of Footsteps, an organization that offers support and community for people leaving ultra-Orthodoxy—tells us about the different challenges faced by men and women who leave the community, what the secular world can learn from the close-knit Haredi world, and the first movies he ever watched.

Our non-Jewish guest is Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay, whose new book, Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, offers a humorous blueprint for living a slightly more relaxed and fulfilling life. He asks what the reaction would be today if a Jewish pitcher declined to play in the World Series because of Yom Kippur, as Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax famously did in 1965.

We love hearing from you. Email with questions, comments, or complaints. We’ll share our favorites on the air.

Oct 15, 2015
This week, we present first-ever Unorthodox live show, recorded at the Slifka Center at Yale University. Our Jewish guest is Shelly Kagan, Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale. He talks about his reputation as Tough Grader on Campus, and explains what it means that he’s a non-welfarist consequentialist.
Our guest gentile of the week—who told us he preferred the term “token goy” or “goykin”—is humorist and WNPR radio host Colin McEnroe. He asked the panel why yarmulkes always seem to fall off his head at bar mitzvah services, and, more seriously, why there seem to be certain tripwires within discussions about Israel that, when crossed, trigger accusations of anti-Jewish sentiment.
You can watch Shelly Kagan's Death course at: Listen to the Colin McEnroe Show here:
Oct 8, 2015
This week on Unorthodox, host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz discuss Amy Schumer's $8 million book deal, Ralph Lauren stepping down as CEO of his namesake brand, and Mahmoud Abbas's speech at the U.N. General Assembly.
Our Jewish guest is best-selling essayist Sloane Crosley, whose first novel, 'The Clasp,' tells the story of college friends who reunited 10 years later and get swept up in a modern-day treasure hunt across Europe. She tells the panel how a Jewish girl ended up with the name Sloane Crosley and about the transition from essay-writing to fiction. 
Our non-Jewish guest is New York Times poetry critic David Orr, whose newest book, 'The Road Not Taken,' is about the Robert Frost poem people love—but completely misunderstand. He asks the panel why Jews, who have long been a staple of the literary world, are less present in the field of poetry.
You can get Sloane Crosley's book here:, and David Orr's book here:
For more Unorthodox, visit Email us at
Sep 24, 2015
This week on Unorthodox, host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz discuss Ann Coulter's ill-advised tweet during the Republican presidential debate about "f---ing Jews"; the Pope's visit to the U.S.; and a campaign to end the little-known Jewish practice of Kapporos, in which chickens are ritually slaughtered before Yom Kippur. 
Our Jewish guest is defense lawyer and former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, whose latest book is "Abraham: The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer." He talks about his former research assistant Natalie Portman, and explains why some critics of Israel are bigots while others are not.
Our non-Jewish guest is Muslim comedian Negin Farsad, who is currently suing the MTA for pulling ads publicizing her documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming," just before they were scheduled to run. One such ad reads: "The Ugly Truth About Muslims: Muslims Have Great Frittata Recipes." Farsad asks the panel why some Jewish men are so ready to court and date non-Jews, only to dump them as things start to get serious because they're not Jewish.
You can get Alan Dershowitz's book on Abraham here: For more of Negin Farsad's work, check out her website, Watch the trailer for her film at
For more Unorthodox, visit Email us at
Sep 17, 2015
This week on Unorthodox, host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz ring in the year 5776 with the latest news of the Jews. They sound off on a controversial New York Times feature that listed the Democrats in the House and Senate who voted against the Iran nuclear deal--and indicated which of those politicians were Jewish. (The 'Jewish?' column was quickly
removed from the chart, and a correction was issued.)
Our Jewish guest is writer, model, and college student Julia Frakes, who describes getting her start as a writer in the fashion world when she was 16. She talks about
​ where to find smart fashion writing, and how she ended up on the runway.
Our non-Jewish guest is Erin McKean, lexicographer, word-lover, and founder of, the "world's biggest online dictionary." She asks what Hebrew words we should be importing into English, and shares a
​ little-known​
 Yiddish term she 
​feels is much deserving of a comeback.
You can follow Julia Frakes on Twitter here: Check out Wordnik's adopt-a-word fundraiser here:
For more Unorthodox, visit Email us at
Sep 10, 2015
Host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz sound off about public schools closing for Jewish holidays, and discuss a New York Times opinion piece about how some of the most violent West Bank extremists are from the United States. Rabbi Avi Shafran explains why he dislikes like the term ultra-Orthodox, why secular Jews shouldn't feel hostility towards more observant Jews (and vice versa), and why he doesn't accept reform conversions.  
Guest non-Jew Alex Sheshunoff describes his new book, A Beginner's Guide to Paradise, which chronicles his year living on the South Pacific island of Pig reading the 100 books he's always wanted to read. He asks the panel about the fishing wire strung from electrical poles in areas with large Jewish populations. (Known as an eruv, the string denotes an area in which items may be carried by observant Jews for Shabbat.) 
To learn more about Avi Shafran, check out his website, You can read the first chapter of Sheshunoff's book at
For more Unorthodox, visit Email us at
Sep 3, 2015
This special Yom Kippur episode of Unorthodox features stories about apologies from host Mark Oppenheimer, writer and Harvard Divinity student Shira Telushkin, and Tablet's Esther Werdiger. What happens when an apology goes wrong? What happens when we’ve done something so awful we can’t face the other person? What happens when somebody apologizes to us—and we can’t forgive?
Special guest Marjorie Ingall, who blogs at, offers her five rules for what makes a good apology.
For more Unorthodox, visit Email us at 
Aug 27, 2015
Tablet staffers Mark Oppenheimer, Liel Leibovitz, and Stephanie Butnick sound off on the news of the week, including the death of the world’s oldest living Jew and a Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike. New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman discusses Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and the new Jewish comedy. Dan Savage, this week's guest non-Jew, asks a question about a long-ago romance lost in translation: specifically, his German boyfriend thinking he was Jewish. 

Follow Jason Zinoman on Twitter: Check out Dan Savage's Savage Love column here:


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Aug 20, 2015

Tablet staffers Mark Oppenheimer, Liel Leibovitz, and Stephanie Butnick sound off about Jewish rapper Matisyahu getting booted from a Spanish reggae festival for refusing to condemn Israel; Jews in Hollywood signing off on the Iran deal; and former NWA manager Jerry Heller's portrayal in the new film "Straight Outta Compton." Katha Pollitt, longtime columnist for The Nation, discusses being portrayed by Patricia Clarkson in the upcoming film, "Learning to Drive," and the recent political attacks on Planned Parenthood. Comedian and musician Dave Hill, this week's non-Jewish guest, asks why Jews don't drink as much as Catholics and why Hasidic men don't take advantage of their fashion opportunity.  

You can read Katha's columns for The Nation here: For more about Dave and his upcoming appearances, check out
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Aug 13, 2015
Tablet staffers Mark Oppenheimer, Liel Leibovitz, and Stephanie Butnick sound off about the (legal) battle of the Jewish dating apps, a crowd-funded effort to reelect Canada's Jewish prime minister, and a Nazi-themed romance novel. Ophira Eisenberg, stand-up comic and host of NPR's quiz show 'Ask Me Another,' discusses the politics of strangers touching pregnant women's bumps, and why her NPR celebrity status matters not at all to her big Canadian family. Humor writer and guest non-Jew Henry Alford asks why his gaydar doesn't seem to work for Jewish guys, who all seem to own multiple sweaters and have close relationships with their mothers.

You can find more about Ophira Eisenberg, plus her stand-up schedule, here: For more about Henry Alford, check out his website,

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Aug 6, 2015

Host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz discuss this year’s European Maccabiah Games—a Jewish Olympics of sorts—which are being held this week in Berlin at the stadium Hitler built for the 1936 Olympics. They also sound off on Mike Huckabee’s ill-advised Holocaust analogy, and an investigation into academic rigor at New York City’s Orthodox yeshivas.  


Celebrity ghostwriter Hilary Liftin discusses her new novel, Movie Star By Lizzie Pepper, a tell-all written by a fictional Hollywood starlet swept away by an older Hollywood heartthrob involved in a strange cult. She doesn’t name names.


Unorthodox’s gentile of the week is Simon Doonan--Barneys’ creative ambassador, writer, and man-about-town. He describes his lifelong affinity for the Jewish people, his Jewish wedding to celebrity ceramicist Jonathan Adler, and schools the hosts with his Yiddishisms.


For more about Simon Doonan, check out his website Hilary Liftin’s novel Movie Star By Lizzie Pepper is available here


Learn more about Unorthodox at, and sign up for our weekly newsletter at Let us know what you think of the podcast by emailing

Jul 30, 2015
Host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz sound off about gay marriage in Israel, the suicide of a formerly Orthodox young woman, and Adam Sandler's latest movie. New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs discusses his latest project: hosting the world's largest family reunion and compiling a massive family tree that includes President Obama, Judge Judy, and yes, Adam Sandler. Writer and 'This American Life' contributor Elna Baker describes leaving the Mormon church and asks why non-practicing Jews get to call themselves Jewish, which isn't the case for Mormons. 
For more information about A.J. Jacobs, visit his website You can find out more about his Global Family Reunion at Elna Baker's memoir, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, is available at
Jul 17, 2015

Your first listen to the new podcast from the editors of Tablet Magazine.

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