The Detroit Jewish News Explores The Jewish Bizarre

January 5, 2023

The Detroit Jewish News explored The Jewish Bizarre podcast with host Eddy Portnoy, who calls it a “Jewish Atlas Obscura of historical material.” Each podcast episode was researched extensively and that listeners can expect a mix of humor, seriousness and, of course, very shocking stories. Read the entire article in the Detroit Jewish News here.

Find out more about the podcast here and listen now to the full season of The Jewish Bizarre podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, YouTube or wherever else you get your podcasts.

From The Detroit Jewish News by Ashley Zlatopolsky

New Reboot podcast explores the stranger topics in Jewish history.

A new podcast is taking listeners down a rabbit hole of bizarre Jewish history.

Released in November, the Jewish Bizarre Podcast, a new project from Reboot, a Jewish arts and culture nonprofit and development platform, explores little-known pockets of Jewish history that are strange, mysterious and often downright shocking.

In fact, podcast host Dr. Eddy Portnoy calls it a “Jewish Atlas Obscura of historical material.”

“It’s the strange corners of history that most historians don’t deal with,” he says, “and that most people don’t even know about.”

The Jewish Bizarre Podcast is the inaugural podcast of the new Reboot Presents Podcast Network, which features top idiosyncratic Jewish personalities. It’s produced by executive producers David Katznelson and Noam Dromi and engineered by Jonathan London.

This new podcast features Portnoy, academic adviser for the Max Weinreich Center and exhibition curator at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, as well as Metro Detroit native, as one of three co-hosts who join ranks to discuss the Jewish bizarre.

Podcast hosts also include Dr. Tony Michels, professor of Jewish American History at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jessica Chaffin, writer, comedian and host of the popular podcast Ask Ronna. Together, they explore the strangest corners of Jewish history.

The Topics Not Taught in Hebrew School

Episodes are released weekly and tackle everything from how an 1875 murder changed perception of Jews forever, to false messiahs and wrestling rabbis, to even Jewish stereotypes such as nose shape and how that impacted the world’s view on Jews.

While all episodes are unique in their own way, Portnoy, who is based in Harlem, says one of the most bizarre is about the Tonsil Riots of 1906, which the podcast dives deeply into.

“In 1906, on the Lower East Side, 50,000 Jewish mothers rioted because their children’s tonsils were taken out in public schools,” Portnoy, 57, explains. “It was really a major uproar and it’s an unusual moment in Jewish history.”

This story, Portnoy says, is representative of the Jewish Bizarre Podcast as a whole. “It’s one of the ones that I find appealing and exciting because it reveals aspects of Jewish life that very few people know about,” he continues.

Portnoy says each podcast episode was researched extensively and that listeners can expect a mix of humor, seriousness and, of course, very shocking stories.

“The historical aspect is serious, but it’s dealt with in a lighthearted manner,” he says. “Tony and I bring the content, but Jessica draws it out in really clever and humorous ways.”

Discussing stereotypes in particular, Portnoy says, has become more important than ever given the recent rise in public antisemitism, even if those stereotypes are approached from an edge of humor.

“Stereotypes affect Jews adversely,” he explains, “and especially now that’s really come to the forefront and become very problematic.”

Learning More About the Bizarre

To help listeners better understand each episode, the Jewish Bizarre Podcast has also released an episode guide that includes definitions for key terms, photographs, newspaper clippings, artwork and additional visual resources and links for reading.

Episodes drop weekly and can be found on major podcast listening platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Listeners can also find them on the Reboot website.

Following its release of the Jewish Bizarre Podcast, Reboot Presents will soon release top episodes from previous Reboot podcasts, including The Kibitz, Kasher v. Kasher, Closening and In Quarantine with Steve Bodow as other new content is in production.

The Jewish Bizarre Podcast episode guide includes Only Murder in the Shtetl, which explores a famous murder; Jewish Anarchists and the Yom Kippur Balls, which discusses how young Eastern European Jewish immigrants discovered anarchism; and The Tonsil Riots and other Jewish Uprisings, which dives into the strangest Jewish riots.

Episodes also include Jewish Geniuses, Idiots and the Greatest Mohel, which explores the age-old question of whether or not there really are more Jewish geniuses; and The Strange World of Nosology and the Jewish Shnozz, which debunks the long-running stereotypes surrounding Jews and nose shape.

Throughout the episodes, podcast hosts also discuss what it ultimately means to be Jewish and share their own personal stories that relate to Judaism’s most bizarre topics.

“The reception for our topics has been pretty strong,” Portnoy says. “There’s definitely interest there.”

Read the original article here.

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