Vox Tablet

Vox Tablet, named Best Podcast for the 2009 National Magazine Awards for Digital Media, is the weekly podcast of Tablet Magazine, the online Jewish life and culture magazine formerly known as Nextbook. Hosted by Sara Ivry, Vox Tablet brings you conversations with writers, scholars, musicians, and mobsters, as well as reports from all corners of the earth, from a cheesecake factory in the Bronx to a genocide memorial on a hilltop in Rwanda.

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This is Vox Tablet, the weekly podcast of Tablet Magazine, the online Jewish arts and culture magazine that used to be known as Nextbook.org. Our archive of podcasts is available on our site, tablet2015.wpengine.com. Vox Tablet, hosted by Sara Ivry, varies widely in subject matter and sound -- one week it's a conversation with novelist Michael Chabon, theater critic Alisa Solomon, or anthropologist Ruth Behar. Another week brings the listener to "the etrog man" hocking his wares at a fruit-juice stand in a Jersualem market. Or into the hotel room with poet and rock musician David Berman an hour before he and his band, Silver Jews, head over to their next gig. Recent guests include Alex Ross, Shalom Auslander, Aline K. Crumb, Howard Jacobson, and the late Norman Mailer.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-13 05:46
last episode published
2016-06-24 04:30
publication frequency
8.84 days
Vox Tablet author  
Julie Subrin owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Religion & Spirituality Judaism Arts



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

So Long, Farewell

Since 2005, the Vox Tablet team—producer Julie Subrin and host Sara Ivry—have done our best to create a Jewish podcast with conversations, stories, and reports from across the Jewish cultural world. But good things—even pioneering, award-winning podcas...

Louis Brandeis: The Jewish Boy From Kentucky Who Became a Supreme Court Legend

Exactly a century ago, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. After a contentious confirmation process, he became the first Jewish justice, serving on the bench for 23 years. His rulings on privacy, workers’ rights, and...

Tanya's Story

Tanya Zajdel grew up in a Hasidic family in Montreal and was excited to embark on her life as a wife and mother after marrying a charismatic rabbinical student when she was 19. It didn’t take long, though, for Tanya to realize that her marriage was not...

A New Kind of Prayerbook

Earlier this year, the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement put out a new prayer book, or siddur. Siddur Lev Shalem, which means ‘full heart,’ is full of innovations. There are new translations of traditional prayers. Poems are included. Th...

Hey Mister DJ, Put a (Diaspora-Blending, Genre-Bending) Record On

Rob Weisberg, the host of the world music radio program Transpacific Sound Paradise, joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to talk about a trio of new genre-bending projects: A-Wa, Sandaraa, and Schizophonia. A-Wa are Israeli sisters of Yemeni ancestry who i...

From Kooky Waif to A-List Beauty: The Story of Barbra StreisandUntitled Episode

Barbra Streisand turns 75 next year. In her 50-plus year career, she has made her mark on the silver screen, on Broadway, in nightclubs, and on the record charts. Her beginnings were humble—she grew up poor and scrappy in Brooklyn with a mother and ste...

What's Free Will Got To Do With It?

Especially in election season, we love talking about the moral fiber (or lack thereof) of our candidates. But when it comes to ethics, no man—or woman—is an island. Host Sara Ivry talks to Professor of Religious Studies Heidi Ravven about the myth of "...

Builders of a New Jerusalem

Host Sara Ivry talks to writer Adina Hoffman about her new book, Till We Have Built Jerusalem, which brings to life three architects who transformed the city in the days of the British Mandate.

Bathe in the Waters

Traditionally, Orthodox Jews submerge themselves in mikvehs—ritual baths—to purify themselves. Producer Hannah Reich has always been drawn to water—to rivers, oceans, pools—and was fascinated by the idea that ritual submersion sanctifies the sexual rel...

Beyond Drake

February is Black History month. To celebrate, Tablet contributor and JN Magazine editor MaNishtana is writing a series of blog posts introducing readers to Jews of Color whose religious affiliation you might not have known. Think: less Drake, more Lan...

The Saddlemaker, the Schindler, and the Miller of Wlodowa

A short-story collection that revolves around the Holocaust is a tough sell. Make it colorful, or optimistic, and it’s pure fairytale. Dwell on the ugliness, the death and depravity, and it becomes perverse–or simply unbearable. Besides, what is there...

The Man Behind the Mustache

When we think of Groucho Marx, we think of a giant of comedy. From his cigar to his wisecracks, Groucho, along with his brothers, established the fundamentals of American comedy. Indeed, it was he who first said he’d want no part of a club that would h...

A Year of Firsts

In 2008, at the age of 23, Luzer Twersky left his wife, his children, and the Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, to try to make a new life for himself. He was tired of pretending to feel and believe things he no longer felt or believed. Sinc...

For the Love of Suzie Louise: A Christmas Story

As Christmas 1963 approaches, a statue of the baby Jesus goes missing from the town manger in Skokie, Illinois. Its theft causes great distress to nearly everyone, including 9-year-old, flaxen-haired Suzie Louise Anderson. In the hopes of becoming her ...

The Most Haunted Leading Man

The antithesis of nearly every Holocaust movie ever made, the Hungarian film Son of Saul is slim on happy endings. Directed by László Nemes, it tells the story of a member of the Sonderkommando, the Jews who ushered their co-religionists off the trains...

Girlhood, Interrupted

The steady stream of people currently fleeing Syria for Europe is a sobering sight, but it’s not a new one. The plight of refugees all over the world is age-old. Cynthia Kaplan Shamash was a child refugee in 1972, when her family—among Iraq’s last Jew...

Let ‘Freedom’ Ring: A Flutist Gives Life to Musical Celebrations of Liberations

Mimi Stillman is a world-renowned flutist heralded by the New York Times as “a consummate and charismatic performer.” Stillman is the founder and artistic director of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, a Philadelphia-based chamber group. Also a historian, she b...

Sweet Madeleine

Best known for his seven-volume masterpiece A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), French writer Marcel Proust is considered to be one of the finest novelists of the 20th century. Though born into upper-class society—his Catholic fathe...

Puzzle Master

A genizah is an area in a synagogue or Jewish cemetery where sacred texts that are in disuse are stored. Traditionally, a text is considered sacred if it’s got the name of God written on it, whether in a liturgical form or simply in a greeting like “P...

The Original Gallery Girl

The name Guggenheim is synonymous with modern art. That’s thanks to Solomon Guggenheim and his famous museum on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Credit also goes to his niece Peggy, who championed icons like Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky and est...

My Grandfather, the Secret Policeman

Poet and writer Rita Gabis grew up surrounded by grandparents with accents—Russian, Yiddish, Lithuanian. That makes it sound like a familiar Jewish immigrant tale, but it was far from that. While Gabis’s father came from a family of Russian Jews who i...

Beyond the Pulpit

For the past nine years, at this time of year, Andy Bachman, a favorite Vox Tablet guest, would be gathering his thoughts in order to lead High Holiday services at Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim. Bachman was the head rabbi there. It’s a synagogue...

André Aciman, Sarah Wildman, and Others Build a Summer Reading List

There are roughly three weeks until the summer clock unofficially runs down. How will you spend these last lazy days? Maybe you’ll be under an umbrella by the sea or in a hammock next to a green meadow or flopped on a big, soft couch in your very own l...

And Now for Something Completely Different

First there was Vox Tablet. Then there was Israel Story. Now, we are excited to present Unorthodox, Tablet’s newest podcast and part of Slate’s Panoply network.Hosted by Tablet Editor-at-Large Mark Oppenheimer and featuring Deputy Editor Stephanie Butn...

How One Zealous Looter Changed Jewish History in the Name of Its Preservation

In 1961, a librarian in a municipal archive in Strasbourg caught a visitor tearing pages out of a manuscript and stuffing them into his briefcase. The visitor, it turned out, was a widely respected historian who had done ground-breaking scholarship on...

Einstein: Patent Clerk, Rebel, Equivocal Zionist

For many Jews, the fact that Albert Einstein was Jewish is a point of pride. But what do we know about his Jewish self-identification? And how many folks out there could claim to have a basic understanding of his General Theory of Relativity? In Einst...

Recovering From a Brain Injury, One Measuring Spoon at a Time

Photo: Jessica FechtorJessica Fechtor was just 28 years old when a blood vessel in her brain burst while she was exercising on a treadmill. Newly married, she was pursuing a Ph.D. in Jewish literature at Harvard, and she and her husband had just starte...

Blum’s Day

During his political career, Léon Blum—who served three short terms as French prime minister between 1936 and 1947—was derided by his detractors as “a woman,” a “weak Jew,” and even a traitor. Meanwhile, he was worshiped by many French workers, gratefu...

A Lullaby for Auschwitz

More than a decade ago, an Italian-born Jerusalem-based singer named Shulamit learned of a collection of songs composed in concentration camps during WWII. Written by a handful of women most of whom perished in the war, the songs nearly possessed her. ...

I Was a Teenage Stowaway

These days it’d be pretty hard to walk without a ticket onto a boarding airplane bound for an international locale. Between the TSA and sniffer dogs, any would-be stowaway would likely see the inside of a jail cell pretty fast. But before September 11,...

Abraham Lincoln’s Other Minority

The 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was known for many things, among them his humble origins, his commitment to ending slavery, his assassination exactly 150 years ago at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Less well-parsed were hi...

We’ll Be Here All Night

What do we talk about at Passover? Slavery, plagues, food, and of course all the unforgettable stories from Seders past. In this Passover special, produced by Vox Tablet for public radio stations (and you), we’ve got all that and more—hosted by Sara Iv...

The Life and Painting of Mark Rothko

Marcus Rothkowitz was born in 1903 in Dvinsk, a town in the Pale of Settlement. As a child, he moved with his family to the United States. It was a journey that changed his life—and that of the world of modern art. Rothkowitz grew up to become the pain...

Heroics Aside, the Story of Purim Is the Bible’s Greatest Farce

The Book of Esther is among the Bible’s shortest stories. It tells the tale of a young Jewish woman who saves her people from a genocidal plot conceived of by Haman, an adviser to King Ahasuerus. It’s a story Jews around the world celebrate on Purim wi...

Convince This Man You’re a Jew, and He’ll Move You to Israel

Tablet Magazine’s Matthew Fishbane likes to find Jews far from home. He’s reported from Venezuela, the Solomon Islands, and Uganda. His latest assignment took him to Manipur, India, where people from disparate hill tribes who identify themselves as Je...

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Valentine’s Day is not native to Israel, but the country does not lack for tales of love and romance (or pursuit thereof). In this, our sixth and final episode of Israel Story’s first season, we bring you some of those.Writer, director, and actor Ghazi...

An Abridged Biography of Your Great-Grandfather (Probably)

“Pack peddlers,” known in other parts of the world as smous, ambulantes, kloppers, weekly men, and a host of other names, are a staple of Jewish family lore everyplace that Jews headed when they left Europe starting in the 19th century.But the specific...

Roger Cohen Heads to South Africa To Examine His Family’s Itinerancy and Mental Illness

When journalist Roger Cohen was just 3 years old, in 1958, his mother underwent electroshock treatment. Raised in South Africa, June Cohen, who was later diagnosed with manic depression, had moved with Roger’s father to England just a couple of years e...

Holy Cow! Three Tales of Bovine Worship

The fate of Israel has long been seen by religious people of various stripes as intimately tied to cows. In the beginning, there was Moses’ battle over the Golden Calf, in which he struggled to bring his people around to monotheism. Then came the folks...

Roz Chast Drags Us Kicking, Screaming, and Laughing, Into the Land of the Infirm

[Podcast audio below.] Roz Chast is best known for her New Yorker comics—colorful and witty depictions of everyday humiliations and grievances. Often those come at the hands of the people closest to her: family members. In Chast’s recent book, a graphi...

Hanukkah Alegre!

It all started back in 2001, when Sarajevo-born folk singer Flory Jagoda invited roughly a dozen other Sephardim in the Washington area to join her for conversation over burekas and bumuelos (fritters, or doughnuts). More specifically, she invited the...

Forget Spelling It: Most of Us Have No Idea What This Holiday Is Even About

When some of the Tablet staff started talking about Hanukkah, it became apparent how little we could assert about the holiday’s particulars. Some knew it involved violence. Others that there was eight days’ worth of oil to light a menorah. Still others...

Being Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion looms so large in Israel’s mythology, it’s like he’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one—the country’s Founding Father and the architect of many of its earliest and most crucial achievements. Bu...

The Life and Good Times of Norman Lear

Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, Mary Hartman, Maude Findlay are just a handful of the iconic characters Norman Lear created for television. In his storied career, Lear tackled abortion, cancer, racism, rape, abuse, interracial relationships, single mo...

Don’t Mess With a Missionary Man

Visitors to Israel—or at least Jerusalem, or, OK, the Old City in Jerusalem—can reasonably expect to bump into a missionary or two. Chances are, though, those missionaries hail from elsewhere. In this, our fourth episode of Israel Story, called “A Man...

Have a Good Sex Life? Thank These People.

A little more than 50 years ago, the idea that a woman could have intercourse for fun, and without worrying that nine months later she’d give birth, was a radical proposition. Then the birth control pill arrived. It was an innovation that changed how ...

When Repression, Regression, and Neurosis Seeped Into Viennese Music

At the turn of the 20th century, Viennese culture experienced a golden age, with the Art Nouveau movement, and the revolutionary music of composers like Mahler, Strauss, and Schoenberg. At the same time, Sigmund Freud‘s theories about dreams and desire...

Radical Writer Tillie Olsen Gave Her Grandson Text Fragments. He Made Music From Them.

Writer Tillie Olsen died in 2007, at age 94. During her life, she worked at many jobs—as a union organizer, waitress, hotel maid, and factory worker, among others—and, with her husband, raised four daughters. That didn’t leave a lot of time to write. B...

From Etgar Keret to a Lovelorn Student in Dimona, Tales of the Book-Obsessed

Are Jews still “the people of the book”? Are Israelis? What does that even mean today? In the third episode of Israel Story, we’ve got three stories that all revolve around people who rescue books, chase after books, or otherwise allow books to determi...

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

In 2007, journalist Sarah Wildman discovered a hidden cache of letters in her grandfather’s home office. By that time, her grandfather Karl was no longer living, but he had been a strong presence for most of her life—a worldly bon vivant and successful...