Article TItle: Jewish Podcasts That Don’t Suck
By: Elizabeth Alpern
Five to Look Out For
From Chareidio News Recap to Feygele Goy; from Linda’s Psychic Bagel Podcast to Isreally Cool; from Oypod to CantorCast, the galaxy of Jewish-themed podcasts is ever-expanding. A quick iTunes search turns up Jewish podcasts that are religious, political, and sometimes just bizarre. Unfortunately, most are awful. Good thing New Voices is looking out for you. Below, we’ve selected five Jewish podcasts that are actively raising the bar.
Feed Me Bubbe
In a shining example of nerddom gone right, sweet grandson Avram hosts a brilliant and wholesome series on his bubbe’s cooking. An irregularly published video podcast, the show features the charming and hilarious Bubbe making classic Ashkenazi comfort food: kasha varnishkes, borsht, tzimmes, kugel, and the rest. The recipes are simple to follow. There is also a Yiddish word of the day, spoken in Bubbe’s Boston accent.
“If I can be everybody’s bubbe, that’s wonderful,” says Bubbe.
Whether you grew up eating handmade matzoh balls at your own bubbe’s table or you’ve only heard tales from your Ashkenazi friends, Feed Me Bubbe is a funny, charming, and surprisingly well-made video podcast that might just inspire you to cook your own shabbes meal. Or to at least call your grandma.
Subscribe to Feed Me Bubbe at http://www.FeedMeBubbe.com or on iTunes.
The folks at Nextbook are remarkable multi-taskers. The non-profit Jewish organization publishes books, sponsors lectures, and runs Nextbook.org, the premier Jewish arts and culture website. For the past two and a half years, they have also been producing a weekly podcast, hosted by Nextbook senior editor Sara Ivry.
“We would never do a straight piece on Klezmer, Israel, or the Holocaust,” says Julie Subrin, the producer of the podcasts. “You don’t have to hit the Jewish thing on the head. You can find other ways to talk about it.”
Certainly the most professionally produced of the Jewish podcasts listed here, Nextbook’s half-hour episodes invoke PRI’s This American Life in their tone and sensibility. Even some of the cast of characters are similar; a recent episode featured an interview with This American Life regular Shalom Auslander. Fans of Ira Glass’ program will enjoy the similarities.
Subscribe to the Nextbook podcast at http://www.nextbook.org or on iTunes.
Oy Mendele comes in hour-long segments, featuring a mishmash of artists, activists, authors, and spiritual leaders. Topics are wide-ranging, and have included Israeli punk, the poetry of Alan Ginsberg, and a discourse on Tu B’Shevat by the Chabad Rabbi of Berkeley. The interviewees are often notable, and the production incorporates lots of great music, which keeps the show’s energy high.
Like the Nextbook podcast, Oy Mendele centers around Jewish arts and culture. Oy Mendele, however, has a distinctly “trendy,” twenty-something flavor. Whereas Nextbook tends toward highbrow discussions with authors and musicologists, Oy Mendele focuses on hip Jewish musicians and artists. There is some overlap, but your iPod has enough memory for both.
Subscribe at http://www.jewishmediaconspiracy.com.
Klezmer Podcast and Klezmer Attitude
We couldn’t choose just one.
Klezmer Podcast is a half hour of interviews and discussions with klezmer folks, both young and old. For any klezmer enthusiast or wannabe, Klezmer Podcast is a great way to plug into the North American scene. The interviews have an intimate feel, and you often get the feeling that you’re listening in on a discussion between two old friends.
Hosted and produced by klezmer scenester Keith Wolzinger of the California-based South Coast Simcha, the show has been online since January 2007. In an interview with New Voices, Wolzinger said that his show aims to gives exposure to acts with minimal mainstream klezmer visibility.
“I give everyone an inside perspective, musician to musician,” he said. “I think we get into their creative process.” Guests have included popular band Golem and musician David Krakauer.
Klezmer Podcast can be found on the web at klezmerpodcast.com or http://www.myspace.com/klezmerpodcast.
Straight from Radio Judaica in Lyon, France, Klezmer Attitude is a podcast with more music and less commentary. Host and musician Edmond Ghrennassia of Lyon-based band Zemer Vekinor provides quiet, passionate descriptions of the tracks. Uploaded weekly in short segments, the show feels like it’s been recorded late at night, and that Ghrenassia is playing scratchy records that he’s been collecting for years. The music is always high quality and exhibits diverse klezmer styles. While his track introductions will be lost on non-francophones, this show provides a rich klezmer experience nonetheless.
News From Within: Palestine/Israel
News From Within is not by definition a “Jewish” podcast. However, this bi-weekly selection of lectures and discussions from the Alternative Information Center in East Jerusalem is a must-listen for anyone who takes a serious interest in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
News From Within tackles contemporary issues in Israel from a left-wing perspective. Recent episodes include discussions on the Annapolis Conference and the democratic movement in Palestine. The podcast comes out every two weeks or so, and can range from fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on the topic.