Israel Story

Israel Story
Ancient Land, Modern Tales

45: By the Rivers of Babylon
Nov 19 • 54 min
A century ago, close to one-third of Baghdad’s population was Jewish. Today, just five Jews remain in the city. In today’s episode, we explore the story of the Jews of Iraq, all the way from Nahum the prophet to a Jerusalemite grandma who became the…
From the Vault: Herr Eichmann
Nov 1 • 31 min
To most, Adolf Eichmann - the mastermind behind the Nazis’ ‘Final Solution’ - is the ultimate symbol of evil. But to a small group of Israelis, he was no more than a gaunt and balding middle-aged prisoner. This is the story of those who looked evil in the…
44: The Needle
Oct 25 • 44 min
In May 1960, the Mossad captured Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, and brought him to stand trial in Jerusalem. It’s one of Israel’s most glorified chapters, right up there with Entebbe, the bombing of the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor and Operation Solomon. So why…
Short: Explosive Confession - A Yom Kippur Special
Oct 8 • 31 min
Repentance, prayer and charity, we are told, are our saving graces when Yom Kippur comes around. And, of course, confession is a big part of that trifecta. But do we still get the coveted brownie points if that confession took thirty years? In 1989, Robby…
Short: Dear God - A Rosh HaShanah Special
Sep 27 • 29 min
Rosh HaShanah is cleanup time, even at the Kotel. But what happens to the millions of notes tucked away in its cool crevices? And what on earth does that have to do with Leonard Cohen, impromptu sword-fights and carp fish in the bathtub? For many folks,…
43: The Wall Part IV - This Wall is My Wall
Sep 10 • 65 min
Walls can make us feel safe, warm and protected. But that’s also their greatest danger. After all, walls can cut us off from what is going on outside, and hiding behind them can give us a false sense of security and stability. Throughout this series,…
Welcome, Shalom and Call Home
Sep 5 • 9 min
If you are new to the show, there are so many episodes for you to check out. Why not start with Operation Hulda, Love Syndrome, and Milk, Honey and Sweet Mary Jane? You can also sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.…
42: The Wall Part III - The Invisibles
Aug 12 • 58 min
Walls are something you can see. Something you can touch. Something you can run into and get a nasty bump on your head. Or… are they?! In our episode today - part three of our miniseries - we tell the stories of three walls that won’t appear on your…
41: The Wall Part II - The Other Side
Jul 23 • 73 min
For the last seventeen years, when people say “the wall’ and “Israel” in the same sentence, they’re usually referring to something very specific: A four-hundred-and-forty-mile-long barrier - some 95% of which is a sophisticated multi-layered fence, and…
40: The Wall Part I - Operation Hulda
Jul 2 • 55 min
Everywhere we turn these days, it seems as if walls are staring back at us. Their powers are magical: They protect and alienate; keep people both in and out; and can even - as we have all seen - bring mighty governments to a total standstill. Israel, too,…
Exciting News
Apr 25 • 28 min
Here’s a little bonus - a wonderful recent story from our friends at Unorthodox. For more, head to our site.
Now That’s a Buzzword!
Jun 27, 2018 • 2 min
A quick note from a big celebration.
39: Mixtape Part IV – War, Peace and Bumper Stickers
Jun 15, 2018 • 43 min
Over the last four episodes, we’ve told the stories behind some of Israel’s most iconic songs. When we set off on this musical journey, we hoped to find a unicorn, a unifying island of Israeliness that escapes the usual polarization which dominates most…
38: Mixtape Part III – Eastward Bound
Jun 8, 2018 • 47 min
In Israel today, Mizrahi - or “Eastern” - music is ubiquitous. In fact, to many, it is practically synonymous with Israeli music. But that wasn’t always the case. For decades, Israeli radio stations ignored Mizrahi tunes and exclusively played music…
37: Mixtape Part II – Iron and Gold
Jun 1, 2018 • 44 min
In 1968, an up-and-coming left-wing politician by the name of Uri Avnery brazenly suggested replacing Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah. His proposal was surprising, given the fact that the would-be replacement was the unequivocal anthem of the Six Day…
36: Mixtape Part I – Our Hope?
May 25, 2018 • 36 min
Let’s face it - when it comes to Israel, everything is complicated. Politics are complicated, religion is complicated, democracy is complicated, the conflict is complicated. Even our complications are complicated. These are the things that take us out to…
35: Whither Thou Goest
May 18, 2018 • 68 min
Somewhere between post-Passover fatigue and summer-is-around-the-corner excitement, Shavout tends to be overlooked. But in reality, it is the secret gem of the Jewish calendar: A festival that’s all about strong women, wheat harvests, creamy cheesecakes…
34: Coming Out, Getting In
Mar 30, 2018 • 65 min
Tonight, Jews around the world will gather together at their seder tables. They will drink wine, ask questions, search for the Afikoman and recite the obligation to see themselves as if they personally had come out of Egypt. And that is, really, what the…
Bonus: Meet Our Unorthodox Friends
Feb 19, 2018 • 72 min
Today, we bring you an episode from our friends over at Unorthodox - another show produced by Tablet Magazine: “The Kids Are Alright.”
33: Milk, Honey and Sweet Mary Jane
Feb 2, 2018 • 52 min
According to a recent study conducted by the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority, the Holy Land might as well be rebranded as a ‘Weedtopia.’ More than a quarter of adults aged 18 to 40 reported having used marijuana within the last month. This stat, says the…
32: King of the Hill
Dec 23, 2017 • 69 min
Imagine an abandoned White House, covered with graffiti, open to the winds, full of trash, broken bottles and condom wrappers. Now go a step further and picture it against the background of the most beautiful Middle Eastern panorama you can conjure up.…
Short: Fed-Ex Over Your Snow
Nov 28, 2017 • 16 min
People in one-hundred-and-eighty-seven countries around the world - including Iran, Iraq and Papua New Guinea - tune in to Israel Story. And today, we went out to talk to a few, very special, fans: our youngest and oldest listeners.
31: Dear Lord Rothschild
Nov 2, 2017 • 65 min
One hundred years after a single-page letter boosted the Zionist cause and changed the course of Jewish history, we go out in search of Balfour, and his declaration, in modern-day Israel.
30: Food Fight
Oct 4, 2017 • 49 min
Food, it turns out, is a serious business. And as we recently came to appreciate, it can lead folks to embark on all kinds of unlikely crusades. In today’s episode we tell two stories, from almost diametrically opposed perspectives, about the ways in…
29: A Better Place?
Sep 8, 2017 • 52 min
In 2007, long before Tesla and Elon Musk became household names, a thirty-nine-year-old Israeli tech entrepreneur by the name of Shai Agassi came out with an announcement that rattled the world: He was going to revolutionize transportation, make countries…
28: On the Outs
Aug 25, 2017 • 58 min
Eli Amir, Eliyahu Rips and Eliezer Sonnenschein couldn’t be more different: the first is a celebrated Baghdad-born author, the second is a brilliant mathematician from Latvia, and the third is the enfant terrible of modern Israeli art. But they are all,…
27: Jarab
Jul 28, 2017 • 36 min
More often than not, we think of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel as being adversarial. We frequently hear tales of hatred, violence, animosity and discrimination. But reality is, of course, much more complicated: Not only are some Jews actually Arabs, and…
26: Oath of Blood
Jul 6, 2017 • 46 min
In the early summer of 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. The First Lebanon War — as it would later be called — would ultimately lead to thousands of casualties, an eighteen-year-long Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon, and growing political disillusionment…
25: Peace Now. Almost.
Jun 5, 2017 • 31 min
Though few people grasped it at the time, the Six-Day War put the young state of Israel on an entirely new trajectory. Some see the war’s outcome as a historic triumph and almost messianic return of the Jews to their ancestral lands. Others, of course,…
24: Losing My Religion
May 15, 2017 • 49 min
From secret bathroom texting all the way to negotiating a divorce in Venice (of all places…), we bring you heart-wrenching tales of lost faith.
23: A Severe Case of Second Generation
Apr 21, 2017 • 27 min
Early next week we will mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. There are just about 160,000 Holocaust survivors still living in Israel, but they are rapidly vanishing. More than forty survivors die each day. And that means that the memory of the…
22: And in the End…
Apr 19, 2017 • 49 min
It’s springtime in Israel and renewal is in the air: Wildflowers are blooming, short pants make their first appearances of the year, and - most importantly - we are back with the start of our third season. But of course, it wouldn’t be Israel Story if…
21: 68 and Counting- Part II
May 30, 2016 • 49 min
In the second installment of this two-part series (and our season two finale), we pick up where we left off last week: Presenting small stories – one per decade – that took place on Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and that, in some way, reflect…
20: 68 and Counting- Part I
May 25, 2016 • 52 min
This is the first in a two-part series that takes us through Israel’s short but dramatic history. Over the last few months, we’ve spent many hours, in all kinds of archives, learning all we could about Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The result…
19: Of Numbers and Names
May 5, 2016 • 48 min
This Thursday, May 5th, Israelis observe Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. At 10 a.m., according to custom, an air raid will sound and the country will fall quiet for two long minutes. Silence won’t do for a podcast, so instead we bring you two…
18: Thicker Than Water
Apr 18, 2016 • 60 min
On Today’s show, we delve into the messy territory of family bonds—how they’re formed, challenged, and change over time. We’ll meet three families who are all, at the end of the day, happy, but are not (contrary to Tolstoy’s claim) in any way alike. First…
17: Stop That Bus!
Mar 25, 2016 • 54 min
Israeli buses regularly make international headlines, be it for suicide bombings, fights over gender segregation or clashes concerning Shabbat schedules. On today’s episode of Israel Story, we delve into the world of lesser known bus-related conflicts. In…
16: Over and Out
Mar 10, 2016 • 71 min
In the last episode of Israel Story, we met couples in love. But for every story of love found, there are, of course, piles and piles of broken hearts. And today, we’ve got the tales of three of the crazy things people do when they no longer see eye to…
15: Love, Revisited
Feb 17, 2016 • 45 min
The stories in today’s episode come from our most recent live show, “Israel in Love.” We’ll meet three couples looking back at their love affairs from very different vantage points. Zvi and Regina Steinitz’s romance has been going on the longest—in fact,…
14: Besties
Jan 27, 2016 • 44 min
When Raymonda Tawil met Ruth Dayan in 1970, they seemed well-primed to be enemies. Ruth, the then wife of Israeli war hero and Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, was visiting a hospital in the Palestinian city of Nablus to deliver dolls to children. Tawil,…
13: Sacred Plants
Jan 12, 2016 • 54 min
There have already been a few sightings of anemones in Israel, and that means it’s the start of wildflower season. Many Israelis track wildflowers with a passion. There are traffic jams near popular flower-carpeted hills and even websites that tell you…
12: Now Boarding
Dec 29, 2015 • 50 min
The first place travelers to Israel encounter is usually Ben Gurion Airport. What they’ll remember of that experience depends in part on their relationship to the country. Are they coming home? Arriving to a place they’ve always dreamed of visiting?…
11: Herzl 48 Live
Dec 15, 2015 • 37 min
There is nothing inherently special about the people who live at 48 Herzl Street, an address that shows up in big cities, small outposts, and everything in between throughout Israel. But symbolically, it’s about as freighted an address as they come.…
10: Birthstory
Dec 1, 2015 • 65 min
How many people does it take to start a family? Well, if you are a gay Israeli couple, both men, and you’d like your children to be biologically related to you, it may take the two of you, plus a Ukrainian egg donor, an Indian woman to serve as the…
9: Man, I Feel Like a Woman
Nov 17, 2015 • 40 min
Yiscah Smith lives in Nahlaot, in Jerusalem. But her journey to this Orthodox-meets-hipster neighborhood took her through what seems like four lifetimes. She was born in Long Island, as Jeff Smith, to a Conservative Jewish family. Jeff married a woman,…
8: Rabin Is…
Nov 3, 2015 • 65 min
Who is Yitzhak Rabin today, twenty years after his murder? In this episode, we discover that for many Israelis, he represents completely different - and often conflicting - things: Rachel Rabin remembers her older brother as a shy kid, who forced her to…
7: Out of Africa… And Back Again
Oct 20, 2015 • 44 min
Israel is embroiled in Middle Eastern geopolitics. That, at least, everyone knows. We also aspire to be part of Europe, and never miss a chance to reiterate our “special relationship” with the US. But what about Africa, our next door neighbors? Our…
Oct 9, 2015 • 1 min
A look back and peek ahead— starting October 21st, we’ll release a new episode of Israel Story every two weeks. A new reason to love Wednesdays!
6: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Feb 11, 2015 • 57 min
Valentine’s Day is not native to Israel, but the country does not lack for tales of love, romance, and the pursuit thereof. In this, our sixth episode, we bring you stories of love and all the ways it’s got to do, got to do with it.
5: Holy Cow!
Jan 12, 2015 • 62 min
The stories of four featured moo-ers: a red heifer that some think will bring the messiah, a cow that’s become the symbol of radical Israeli veganism, buffalos that hold the future for a self-described “Israeli redneck,” and the golden calf that was…
4: A Man on a Mission
Dec 12, 2014 • 55 min
In this, our fourth episode, we introduce three Israelis who are not religious but have pursued unusual hobbies with missionary zeal. One is a hitman-for-hire, another collects a highly specific classification of autographs, and the third is a…
3: People of the Book
Oct 27, 2014 • 61 min
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 determine…
2: Love Syndrome
Sep 22, 2014 • 57 min
Chaya Ben Baruch grew up as Enid, in a Conservadox family in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Midway through college, she left that world behind to study sea otters in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fast-forward a decade: Enid is now married to a nice Catholic salmon fisher named…
1: Faking It
Aug 18, 2014 • 58 min
From our relationship with Ira Glass to priceless antiquities all the way to coveted sick passes – Israeli stories that are anything but real. In our very first episode, the Israel Story team delves into the realm of fakes, forgeries, and mimicry. Three…