Courtesy of Unorthodox podcast Unorthodox is a weekly podcast on Jewish news and culture hosted by Stephanie Butnick, Liel Leibovitz, and  Mark Oppenheimer.

Courtesy of Unorthodox podcast

Unorthodox is a weekly podcast on Jewish news and culture hosted by Stephanie Butnick, Liel Leibovitz, and  Mark Oppenheimer. 


Before a crowd of nearly 200, Mark Oppenheimer co-host of Unorthodox “The World’s Leading Jewish Podcast” claimed The American Israelite as the Best Jewish Newspaper. The podcast was taped on Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center. It was a lively way to begin the Cincinnati’s Global Day of Jewish Learning, which was organized by Rabbi Shena Potter Jaffee. 

The taping was followed by discussions, including a workshop titled “Words Matter” as Cincinnati joined “communities across the globe to explore a common theme through the context of a Jewish lens.” 

Unorthodox is a podcast produced by Tablet Magazine, which labels itself as “a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture.” It is hosted by Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. Colloquially referred to as the Unorthodox Crew, these three journalists share an immense knowledge of Jewish topics relevant to today’s Jews as well as non-Jews who have an interest in Judaism. Unorthodox is produced by Josh Kross and it boasts itself as having the largest number of listeners of any Jewish podcast worldwide. Unorthodox features news, fascinating and relevant guests (typically one Jewish and one non-Jew each week), in addition to co-host, listener and guest interplay. 

Much to the chagrin of Greater Cincinnati the co-hosts began their shtick commenting on the fact that CVG, the Cincinnati airport, is actually in Kentucky. Budnick stated this “screwed with her geotags” which brought an uproar of audience laughter.

From there the podcast spiraled further into comedy as the crew found humor that their Cincinnati hotel, the 21C, placed rubber ducks in its showers while at the same time there has been much negative media attention surrounding a travel photographer who posted an Instagram photo of a similar rubber duck on the tracks at Auschwitz. 

Oppenheimer, who has a Ph.D. from Yale and is editor at large at Tablet Magazine, quickly segued into a story he just read in The American Israelite about sea turtles who had their shells painted with swastikas. He pointed out that he had to come to Cincinnati to read the local Jewish paper in order to catch a story he missed elsewhere. 

Leibovitz, born in Israel who also holds a Ph.D. from Columbia, said he found his “new favorite thing in the world,” the From the Pages article in The American Israelite that revisits past stories from 10 to 150 years ago. Humoring himself and much to the delight of the audience, Leibovitz read aloud some very provocative stories which were written in the prose of the past.

Budnick, who is also the deputy editor at Tablet Magazine, made note of other interesting American Israelite stories. She asked if the newspaper needs a reporter, announcing she’s subscribing, at which point Oppenheimer declared the American Israelite, “the best newspaper in the world!” Claps, cheers and whistles burst from the audience. All of which illustrates the strength in media that The American Israelite still offers its readers today.

At the Cincinnati taping, which will air sometime in the future, the Jew of the Week was Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company. The Non-Jew of the Week was John Geisen, owner of Izzy’s delicatessen who brought the hosts corned beef sandwiches and Izzy’s famous pickles. 

There were two additional guests, listeners of the podcast who reconnected and are now engaged following last year’s Yom Kippur “Apology” episode.

The taping ended with Mazel Tovs, a regular feature on Unorthodox, shmoozing with the co-hosts and book-signings.

You can enjoy the first part of the Cincinnati taping with American Israelite highlights on episode 204 by subscribing to Unorthodox on iTunes or other podcast players; it’s free.

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