Unorthodox is a weekly podcast in which 3 hosts and 2 guests discuss "the news of the Jews": from politics to film to food, around the world. Guests include a Jew and a "Gentile of the Week," for crosscultural conversation. It's the leading Jewish podcast in the US, with millions of downloads.
Podcasting is the most exciting and innovative new medium for arts and ideas to have arisen in the internet era; shows like This American Life, Radiolab, and Snap Judgment have transformed the art of audio storytelling, bringing their unique visions to tens of millions, in the US and around the world. Unorthodox, originally seeded by Tablet magazine, is the first, and most successful, podcast in the United States to used podcasting to examine the Jewish community. Although there have been other Jewish podcasts, the majority take a particular point of view (pro-religious or anti-religious, for example) or they have a very narrow focus (food, for example). Unorthodox's mix of conversation and interviews—smart but never wonky, and often irreverent—succeeds precisely because it welcomes all who are Jewish or Jew-curious. We begin each show with a roundup of the weekly "news of the Jews," offering our listeners a digest of Jewish stories from across the globe. Then we do two interviews a week; our guests include authors, actors, chefs, rabbis, teachers, and more. We host Zionists and non-Zionists, leftists and rightists, observant and non-observant. The guests always include a Jew and a "Gentile of the Week," who gets to ask the hosts that question she or he has always wanted to know about Judaism but been afraid to ask. The listeners to our show range from ultra-Orthodox in Boro Park or in Lakewood, NJ, to queer activists in Tel Aviv, include many "cultural" Jews who are entirely secular, and also include a large number of Jews from intermarried families. We know, from our download statistics, that we have listeners in over 50 countries. And our mail suggests that as many as a quarter of our listeners are non-Jews (often with Jewish spouses, children, or friends). We set out to do a podcast for Jews, and discovered that we are in fact doing interfaith work. We also have a huge following among non-Jews studying for conversion. In short, Unorthodox has become an international meeting place for Jews and the Jew-curious who want frank, non-judgmental discussion about a community that, for one of a multitude of reasons, is meaningful to them. The Guardian newspaper has named us one of their Top 50 Podcasts, and our monthly audience has tripled since our founding in 2015. Our live shows, showcasing Jewish conversation and music—in New York, Palo Alto, West Palm Beach, Boston, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere—have drawn thousands. We look forward to bringing our open-minded about to Jews and Judaism to more listeners still.
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