Unorthodox podcast to record live in Tidewater

by | Mar 9, 2022 | What’s Happening

Thursday, April 7, 7:30 pm, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

What do actress Mayim Bialik, Great British Baking Show contestant Jürgen Krauss, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and Presbyterian Pastor Henry Brinton have in common? They have all been guests of the podcast Unorthodox, the flagship podcast from Tablet Magazine, the daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture.

Unorthodox, which premiered its 300th episode just last December, prides itself on being “the world’s leading Jewish podcast.” Its listenership, known as the J-Crew, listens to the podcast in more than 11 countries and has downloaded its episodes more than six million times. Many of them discuss the show in a Facebook group dedicated to its listeners, which boasts more than 6,000 members.

Unorthodox is the brainchild of, and hosted by Tablet senior editor Mark Oppenheimer, deputy editor Stephanie Butnick, and editor-at-large Liel Leibovitz. Its weekly episodes feature conversations with Jewish and gentile guests, affectionately referred to as the ‘Jew and Gentile of the Week.’ These conversations, which can cover anything from the history of mahjong to Jews in comics, provide insight into interesting topics and worldviews, interlaced with banter between the hosts, questions from listeners, and often humorous retellings of Jewish news events from the past week.

Unorthodox offers a fresh take on all things Jewish,” says Dr. Amy K. Milligan, Batten Endowed Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies and director of the Institute of Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University. “I enjoy hearing them engage with a variety of voices, covering a wide breadth of experiences, identities, and cultures, while keeping the conversations upbeat, fast-paced, and engaging.”

While many of the podcast’s conversations are lighthearted and fun, the hosts also explore more serious topics. A recent guest of the show was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who shared his thoughts following the terrifying hostage situation that took place during Shabbat services at his congregation in Colleyville, Texas. Host Mark Oppenheimer reported from Pittsburgh following the attack at Tree of Life—Or L’Simcha Congregation, and the podcast has aired episodes focusing on topics such as Jewish pregnancy and reimagining the story of Purim, as well as annual conversations about conversion and apologies.

The podcast was originally scheduled to record in Tidewater in 2020, but was postponed because of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s exciting that Unorthodox is finally coming to Hampton Roads,” says local Unorthodox fan Robyn Weiner. “The show continues to be relevant as the world changes, and I appreciate the hosts’ perspectives.”

The hosts are visiting Tidewater for a live recording of Unorthodox as part of Tidewater Together, presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund of the Congregation Beth El Foundation, in partnership with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival.

Admission is $18 or $30 including a copy of the hosts’ book, Newish Jewish Encyclopedia. Special bundle of admission and book ends March 30. Seating is limited and advance tickets are required. Tickets can be purchased at

Hunter Thomas is director of Arts & Ideas at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. He can be reached at

Hunter Thomas