Host Mark Oppenheimer and Tablet staffers Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz sound off about public schools closing for Jewish holidays, and discuss a New York Times opinion piece about how some of the most violent West Bank extremists are from the United States. Rabbi Avi Shafran explains why he dislikes like the term ultra-Orthodox, why secular Jews shouldn't feel hostility towards more observant Jews (and vice versa), and why he doesn't accept reform conversions.
Guest non-Jew Alex Sheshunoff describes his new book, A Beginner's Guide to Paradise, which chronicles his year living on the South Pacific island of Pig reading the 100 books he's always wanted to read. He asks the panel about the fishing wire strung from electrical poles in areas with large Jewish populations. (Known as an eruv, the string denotes an area in which items may be carried by observant Jews for Shabbat.)
To learn more about Avi Shafran, check out his website, http://rabbiavishafran.com/. You can read the first chapter of Sheshunoff's book at http://www.abeginnersguidetoparadise.com/#a-beginners-guide-to-paradise
For more Unorthodox, visit tabletmag.com/unorthodox. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.