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Monday, July 24, 2017

Top Ten Jewish Podcasts

Top Ten Jewish Podcasts

July 26, 2016 in 2016 July-August, Arts & Culture
11 Comments

People of the Podcast

If you don’t listen to a podcast (or eight), your coworker probably does—or your best friend, or your brother, or your grandma. Podcasts are the medium du jour, though the term itself—barely a decade old—is already a bit outdated. For the uninitiated: The word “iPod” (remember those?) and “broadcast” are the roots of this portmanteau—a democratized form of radio-show production available to anyone with a microphone, Internet access and the right software. Podcasts have proliferated as a popular, portable way to consume everything from news to storytelling to comedy on your computer, smartphone or tablet—or, yes, your iPod, if you still have one of those lying around—via streaming or download from the podcast’s website, iTunes or your podcast app of choice. Jewish podcasting in particular is having a moment, broadening in recent years from a selection of Torah study and sermons to an eclectic mix of history, humor and more.

Haven’t found a reason to jump on the podcast bandwagon? We’re here to help, with a list of some of the best Jewish podcasts out there and why you should tune in. (All are available for download from the iTunes store.)—Anna Isaacs

Can We Talk?


canwetalkOne of the newest kids on the Jewish podcast block is this monthly program that debuted in January. Clocking in on the short side for podcasts at under 20 minutes each, its five installments so far are newbie-friendly introductions to podcast programming. Hosted by Nahanni Rous, “Can We Talk?” is produced by the Boston-based Jewish Women’s Archive, a national nonprofit that highlights the lives and stories of notable Jewish women. The first episode, aptly named “The Pilot’s Pilot,” tells the stories of two 1940s-era Jewish women pilots; the second explores the Jewish roots of the 1971 seminal women’s health book, Our Bodies, Ourselves.
jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk

(Is It) Good for the Jews?

 

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This weekly dispatch from a San Francisco basement rechristened “The Twilight Lounge” comes from 50-something friends Larry Rosen, a self-described “ambivalent Jew,” and Eric Goldbrener, a “fierce Jew,” who pose that perennial question while discussing some unexpected topics. “The idea was that we can have an hourlong discussion on anything and ask if it is good for the Jews,” Rosen told the Jewish weekly j. “We talk about the Middle East, but I also wanted to talk about Elvis, sandwiches and yoga.” Was western U.S. migration good for the Jews? What about Han Solo, or having Drake play your bat mitzvah? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
isitgoodforthejews.com

Israel Story

 

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Fans of Ira Glass’s dulcet tones will enjoy this Israeli spin on “This American Life,” the popular public radio show that presents stories playing on a weekly theme. Originally a Hebrew-language Israeli radio program called “Sipur Israeli,” dreamed up by four TAL-superfan friends, “Israel Story” is its English-language counterpart, hosted by Mishy Harman. Its subject matter eschews the headlines in favor of the quirky and quotidian, from Bohemian Yiddish book collectors to the first so-called Israeli redneck living in the U.S. Not to worry, TAL loyalists—“Israel Story” has Ira’s blessing. It “didn’t bother me that there would be an Israeli knockoff,” Glass tells Harman on the pilot episode. “It’s fine with me, like, I don’t care.”
israelstory.org

On The Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah

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Want to keep up with the weekly parshah, but don’t want to spend your Saturday morning at services? This new podcast from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, keeps the divrei Torah short and sweet for the shul-averse, condensing “2,000 years of Jewish wisdom into just ten minutes of modern-day commentary.” There’s plenty of time to get up to speed on this one: “On the Other Hand” debuted in January. If you think a podcast can’t go toe-to-toe with the ceremony of a synagogue, Rabbi Jacobs’ words on parshat Yitro just might change your mind: “Sometimes, we people who think of our lives as spiritual journeys, sometimes we’re waiting for that moment on the mountain—the moment with the fire and the lightning,” he says. “But the revelation of holiness, the revelation at the heart of our tradition, happens not just in those peak moments. It happens in those quiet places as well.”
reformjudaism.org/learning/podcasts

Ronna & Beverly

 

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America’s favorite 50-something Jewish mothers from Boston bring you this biweekly podcast version of their live show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. Every episode, comedians Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo embrace their alter egos, best friends Ronna Marlene Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg (née Kahn), for an hour or so of kvetching, kvelling and unsolicited advice. The best-selling coauthors of You’ll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Re-marriage for Jewish Singles (“But it doesn’t matter, it’s for everybody,” they assure their listeners on the pilot episode) debate whether it was Shoah or Schindler’s List that was filmed in black and white, discuss what they purchased from the sales bin at Marshall’s and interview (read: harass) a parade of celebrity guests. As for special deals from their advertisers, the offer code is always, of course, “Shalom.”
ronnaandbeverly.com

Too Jewish with Rabbi Sam Cohon & Friends

 

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If you favor a more traditional radio show format, “Too Jewish” may be just right. The program—“a weekly serving of everything Jewish”—is hosted by Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, senior rabbi of Tucson’s Temple Emanu-El. “Too Jewish”—which always opens with the same line and a chorus of laughter: “Sooner or later you can bet your life that every Jew in this building is going to say the same thing: ‘He’s a little too Jewish for my taste’”—has been on the air since 2002 and can still be heard Sunday mornings at 9 on Tucson-area radio stations. The show features a mix of news, music, comedy, culture and conversation, with an impressive roster of past guests that includes journalist David Gregory, Elie Wiesel, actress Lily Tomlin, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and musician Matisyahu. “Too Jewish” introduced a podcast version of the show in 2010.
toojewishradio.com

The Kibitz

 

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This monthly podcast comes courtesy of Reboot, an organization that channels traditional Jewish ritual into modern, creative projects, from exhibitions to DIY toolkits to apps. (You may know them for their National Day of Unplugging, an annual take on Shabbat that encourages the tech-addicted to set aside their smartphones for 24 hours.) “The Kibitz” is hosted by freelance journalist (and retired competitive air guitarist) Dan Crane, who promises in the pilot episode, “This is not a preachy podcast. It’s about asking interesting questions. Because the one thing I’ve learned about Jews is that we love asking questions—like, ‘Hey, are you going to finish that pastrami sandwich?’” “The Kibitz” features a range of guests, from the scholarly to the satirical, exploring a range of topics—like adult male circumcision, or a debate between a rabbi and a comedian over the origins of Hanukkah. Not sold yet? What if we told you that every episode, Crane’s 95-year-old nana calls in to tell some jokes? Yeah. Thought so.
kibitzpod.com

The Joy of Text

 

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Online content producer Jewish Public Media is responsible for this podcast about the intersection of Orthodox Judaism and sexuality. “The Joy of Text” is cohosted by Rabbi Dov Linzer of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and sex therapist Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, clinical director of the Medical Center for Female Sexuality and president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. (Marcuss name may sound familiar: She was the subject of a 2015 New York Times Magazine profile that dubbed her “The Orthodox Sex Guru.”) Rabbinic and medical experts thoughtfully weigh in here every month on matters of halacha and Jewish values as they relate to everything from condoms to pornography to sexting. In case it wasn’t already clear: This podcast advises listener discretion and may not be suitable for the young’uns.
jpmedia.co/podcasts/joy-of-text/

Person Place Thing

 

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Produced with the JCC in Manhattan, “Person Place Thing” isn’t an explicitly Jewish podcast, but it has just enough Jewish bona fides (and is just so good) that we’d be remiss in leaving it off this list. Randy Cohen launched this one-on-one interview show in 2012 after wrapping up a 12-year stint penning “The Ethicist” column for The New York Times Magazine, premising it on this theory: People are more interesting when speaking not about themselves, but rather about things they’re passionate about (or that they passionately despise). The result: Cartoonist Roz Chast talks about her first New York apartment, actress Julianne Moore discusses decoupage eggs and scholar Alan Dershowitz remembers Nuremberg chief prosecutor Telford Taylor.
personplacething.org

Responsa Radio

 

ResponsaRadio

Got halacha questions? “Responsa Radio” has answers—both existential and oddly specific—from Rabbis Avi Killip and Ethan Tucker of New York’s Mechon Hadar, a Jewish learning center. Jewish laws are held up to modern scrutiny and applied to 21st-century scenarios in questions such as: Can you use a coffee maker on Shabbat if it has a timer? What about opening your mail? Zooming out from the daily details, the rabbis also discuss whether living dangerously is kosher, so to speak, and if loving somebody is a good reason to convert to Judaism.
 jpmedia.co/podcasts/response-radio/

The Promised Podcast

 

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This weekly show, launched in 2011 in cooperation with the English-language edition of the newspaper Haaretz and Tel Aviv radio station TLV1, is all about Israeli politics, culture and society. Journalist Allison Kaplan Sommer, Israel Center for Educational Innovation Director Don Futterman and Bar-Ilan University science professor Noah Efron talk the issues of the day—from Natalie Portman’s directorial debut to the Gaza blockade—from a self-described leftist perspective. The hosts delineate their worldview in this way: “We live here, and love the place, and it also often drives us crazy. Mostly, we want to understand it, with an open mind and heart: the good, the bad and the ugly.”
tlv1.fm/content/the-promised-podcast

11 Comments
  • Gabrielle 17:07h, 27 July Reply

    I think you have to make it a top 12 and add ‘unorthodox’ and ‘shtetl on the Shortwave.’

  • Eric Goldbrener 20:44h, 28 July Reply

    Thanks for including my podcast on your list. Yasher koach to all my Jewish podcast brethren and sistren. Eric

  • Erika D. 11:52h, 29 July Reply

    Loved finding some current listens on this list and discovering others to explore. I’ve already sent in a “letter to the editor” with a few additional suggestions, but why wait to share them?

    I agree with Gabrielle that “Unorthodox” (http://www.tabletmag.com/tag/unorthodox) belongs on this list. I’d also recommend that others check out The Book of Life (http://jewishbooks.blogspot.com) and the new(ish) Judaism Unbound (http://www.judaismunbound.com). We are fortunate to have so many excellent Jewish podcast choices!

  • West 11:45h, 01 August Reply

    http://Www.twjews.co/

    Comedy podcast out of Miami a la Larry David/Mel Brooks.

  • Nina Badzin 08:26h, 02 August Reply

    I’m with Erika on Judaism Unbound and Unorthodox! Also Rabbi Sacks has an amazing podcast that is short and wise.

  • Allison 08:07h, 11 August Reply

    Thanks for including the Promised Podcast!

  • Heidi Rabinowitz 15:12h, 16 September Reply

    Thanks to Erika for mentioning my podcast, The Book of Life! It’s an interview show about Jewish books, music, film and web that I’ve been producing since 2005. I’d also agree that Unorthodox is great, and the now defunct Vox Tablet, which still has plenty of archived episodes to go back and enjoy at http://www.tabletmag.com/author/vox-tablet.

  • Amy 15:41h, 23 October Reply

    Unorthodox belongs at the top of this list.

  • Roni Breite 17:33h, 02 November Reply

    How can you forget Streetwise Hebrew with the witty, wacky, wonderful Guy Sharett? He offers up seriously amusing and fascinating slang, insightful cultural nuggets and other illuminating aspects of Hebrew language in a short podcast. Sex Words in Modern Hebrew! Cursing Drivers! Service in Israel! Shrimpsim! How to Dump Someone in Hebrew! Etc.

  • Ben 10:20h, 13 February Reply

    The Road Ahead with Yehudah B. Ilan also belongs on this list.

  • Julie 09:28h, 19 May Reply

    Surprised Torah tl;dr isn’t on the list. It’s the *best* Jewish podcast. Rabbi Seth gives a 60 second run-down of the week’s Torah portion and relates it to modern life. It’s short, sweet, and always entertaining! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/torah-tl-dr/id1135668198?mt=2

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