Ask Unorthodox: What to Do About That Mezuzah?

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Unorthodox, the world’s leading Jewish podcast, takes questions from its listeners about all aspects of Jewish life, from the religiously profound to the utterly inconsequential. Every week, we discuss one of these questions in “Ask Unorthodox.” If you have a question, please send it to

A few weeks back on Unorthodox, host Mark Oppenheimer blithely blathered something about how it was a nice tradition for Jews, when vacating a house, to leave behind the mezuzahs on their doors. Unsurprisingly, he had no idea what he was talking about. As ever with Jewish law and tradition, the truth is much more complicated than most podcast chatter can allow. For although many Jews, when moving out, do in fact leave a mezuzah on the front door—so often that the New York Times devoted a 2010 article to the practice (“In Mezuzas, a Custom Inherited by Gentiles”)—they aren’t really supposed to. Not always, anyway.

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