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Syndication

When Ellen Willis’s brother Michael decided to leave behind his secular American life and study in an Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem, she knew that something was amiss. How could her intelligent, reasonable brother have decided to devote himself Jewish Orthodoxy? Yet, after flying to Israel in order to witness Michael’s new lifestyle for herself, Ellen realized that Judaism’s questions about the secular word—about her world—pointed to more truths than she wanted to admit.

Ultimately, Ellen returned to her secular life in America, while her brother went on to become a Haredi rabbi. But she documented her brother’s journey and her time with him in Jerusalem in an incredible essay entitled “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Published in Rolling Stone in 1977, the piece is an extraordinarily thoughtful and honest study of the contradictions and tensions of the human condition, presented through the lens of a secular woman exploring the world of Orthodox Judaism for the first time.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by rabbi, editor, and blogger Gil Student to explore this essay as well as Rabbi Student’s own journey into the Orthodox world. They discuss the parallel journeys of Michael and Ellen and the factors that pulled one back toward the religion of his ancestors and pushed the other away from it. Returning to stories of his own life throughout the conversation, Rabbi Student gives us a greater appreciation of the challenges and rewards of adopting an Orthodox lifestyle in our secular progressive age.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.

Direct download: Student_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:41pm EDT

The establishment of the State of Israel is one of the most remarkable achievements of the modern era. Never before had a people dispersed throughout the world, deprived of sovereignty for millennia, returned to its ancient homeland to build a thriving country. Who were the leaders and thinkers that helped craft a modern Jewish nationalism for a people so long deprived of self-determination? What moved them? What were their political teachings and key disagreements?

The Tikvah Fund invites you to join Dr. Micah Goodman, Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and CEO and Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Ein Prat, for a three-part exploration of the writings, legacies, and debates of Zionism’s early thinkers. We will study the teachings of Theodor Herzl, Micha Josef Berdichevsky, Ahad Ha’am, Isaac Jacob Reines, Abraham Isaac Kook, and other representatives of modern Jewish nationalist thought. In doing so, Dr. Goodman will help us see how the founding disagreements within Secular Zionism, Religious Zionism, and Ultra-Orthodoxy can shed light on the spirit of Jewish nationalism and the internal conflicts Israel still faces today.

These lectures were originally delivered at one of the Tikvah Fund’s educational programs for undergraduates. Click here to learn more about our educational programs.

In this lecture, Dr. Goodman takes us on a journey from 18th-century Lithuania to the modern state of Israel as he explores the haredi response to Zionism and the challenges of modernity.


When Jews raise their glasses in celebration, they toast “l’chaim!” “to life!” Judaism's belief in the inherent value of our time in this world permeates Jewish law and culture, and is perhaps most clearly seen in the principle that nearly every commandment is violated in order to save a life. But how far does this commitment extend? Does Judaism support any scientific and medical progress that promises to preserve and extend life? Or are there other Jewish commitments that ought to establish limits on what we do in our battle against death and disease? Could there even be a virtue in our mortality?

These are just some of the questions Leon Kass considers in his important essay, “L’Chaim and Its Limits.” Published in First Things in 2001, the piece explores the question of man’s mortality as it presents itself in Jewish sources and names the moral dilemmas posed by scientific advancement.

In his podcast, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik joins Tikvah’s Eric Cohen for a conversation about Kass’s essay. They discuss the reasons for Judaism’s concern with the value of human life; what rabbinic tradition teaches about body, soul, and afterlife; and how the family emerges as the most powerful Jewish answer to man’s mortality.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.

Direct download: Soloveichik_Kass_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:42am EDT

Soldier, statesman, Nobel Prize-winning author—Sir Winston Churchill was one of the most important figures of the 20th century. His judgment was vindicated when Hitler marched through Europe, and his determined leadership helped guide England through the world war that defeated fascism.

Churchill’s time on the world stage also intersected with the most pivotal moments in modern Jewish history—the rise of Zionism, the horror of the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. Having absorbed at a young age the philo-Semitism of his father, Churchill was no bystander to these events, and his sympathy for the plight of the Jews and the Zionist cause were evident throughout his life.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by Dr. Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and author of Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft. Makovsky guides us through Churchill’s career, highlighting the sources of his affinity for the Jewish people and their national cause. Though his efforts on behalf of the Jews were sometimes halting and inconsistent, Makovsky and Silver show that Churchill was guided by the conviction that—as the Book of Genesis promises—the Lord will bless those who bless the Jews.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.

Direct download: Makovsky_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:05am EDT

“All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

So mused Mark Twain in the nineteenth century. One such “secret” surely resides in the immortal language that the Jewish people kept alive—and that in many senses kept them alive—throughout their history. In his new book, The Story of Hebrew, Dartmouth College's Lewis Glinert busts the myth that Hebrew was a "dead" language in the centuries between the ancient dispersion and the birth of Zionism. On June 21, 2017, Professor Glinert visited The Tikvah Center in New York City for a wide-ranging discussion highlighting the many forms of Hebrew's survival and renewal throughout the Jewish history.

Direct download: The_Story_of_Hebrew_Tikvah_6-21-17_audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

The establishment of the State of Israel is one of the most remarkable achievements of the modern era. Never before had a people dispersed throughout the world, deprived of sovereignty for millennia, returned to its ancient homeland to build a thriving country. Who were the leaders and thinkers that helped craft a modern Jewish nationalism for a people so long deprived of self-determination? What moved them? What were their political teachings and key disagreements?

The Tikvah Fund invites you to join Dr. Micah Goodman, Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and CEO and Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Ein Prat, for a three-part exploration of the writings, legacies, and debates of Zionism’s early thinkers. We will study the teachings of Theodor Herzl, Micha Josef Berdichevsky, Ahad Ha’am, Isaac Jacob Reines, Abraham Isaac Kook, and other representatives of modern Jewish nationalist thought. In doing so, Dr. Goodman will help us see how the founding disagreements within Secular Zionism, Religious Zionism, and Ultra-Orthodoxy can shed light on the spirit of Jewish nationalism and the internal conflicts Israel still faces today.

These lectures were originally delivered at one of the Tikvah Fund’s educational programs for undergraduates. Click here to learn more about our educational programs.

In this episode, Dr. Micah Goodman explores the philosophies of Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook in order to trace the key disagreements within religious Zionism from the dawn of the Zionist movement until the present day.


The establishment of the State of Israel is one of the most remarkable achievements of the modern era. Never before had a people dispersed throughout the world, deprived of sovereignty for millennia, returned to its ancient homeland to build a thriving country. Who were the leaders and thinkers that helped craft a modern Jewish nationalism for a people so long deprived of self-determination? What moved them? What were their political teachings and key disagreements?

The Tikvah Fund invites you to join Dr. Micah Goodman, Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and CEO and Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Ein Prat, for a three-part exploration of the writings, legacies, and debates of Zionism’s early thinkers. We will study the teachings of Theodor Herzl, Micha Josef Berdichevsky, Ahad Ha’am, Isaac Jacob Reines, Abraham Isaac Kook, and other representatives of modern Jewish nationalist thought. In doing so, Dr. Goodman will help us see how the founding disagreements within Secular Zionism, Religious Zionism, and Ultra-Orthodoxy can shed light on the spirit of Jewish nationalism and the internal conflicts Israel still faces today.

These lectures were originally delivered at one of the Tikvah Fund’s educational programs for undergraduates. Click here to learn more about our educational programs.

In his first lecture, Dr. Micah Goodman explores the founding disagreements of secular Zionism by focusing on the relationship between Zionism and Jewish tradition in the thought of Ahad Ha’am and Micha Josef Berdichvky.

Direct download: Micah_Goodman-_First_Lecture_audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:46pm EDT

On September 13, 1993, at a historic ceremony on the White House lawn, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), shook hands as they signed the Oslo Accords and kicked off a peace process that would last the better part of a decade. The story of that day and of the subsequent events that ultimately led to the peace process’s failure, are well known. But the remarkable series of events that led to the historic agreement remains obscure to many.

In 2016, the story behind the Accords was dramatized on stage in the award-winning play Oslo. The following year, Yeshiva University’s Neil Rogachevsky reviewed the play in Mosaic Magazine, highlighting the many ways it distorts history in the interest of reinforcing the conventional wisdom of Western elites. In this podcast, Dr. Rogachevsky joins Jonathan Silver in order to analyze the unlikely story behind the Oslo Accords. Using Yigal Carmon’s 1994 Commentary essay, “The Story Behind the Handshake” as a roadmap, Rogachevsky and Silver analyze how secret negotiations organized by low-level government officials led to one of the most consequential, and disastrous, shifts in Israeli diplomatic history.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.

Direct download: Rogachevsky_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:02am EDT

As he looked out at the Western world of the 1960s and ‘70s, Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits saw a society whose value system had collapsed. Relativism, boredom, and permissiveness were all around him. But this void could be filled, argued Rabbi Berkovits, by a sophisticated Judaism that sought to rear the next generation in the best of the Jewish ethical tradition. “Jewish Education in a World Adrift” is a clarion call for a morally confident Judaism that can speak to the human soul in a nihilistic age.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by veteran educator and Tikvah Fund Senior Director Rabbi Mark Gottlieb to think through this powerful essay. They discuss Berkovits’s bold halachic philosophy, the circumstances that moved him to tackle this issue, and the future of Jewish education. At a time of promise and peril for Jewish pedagogy, their conversation is as timely as ever.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Ich Grolle Nicht, by Ron Meixsell and Wahneta Meixsell.

Rabbi Gottlieb teaches in and directs Tikvah’s programs for high school students and the yeshiva community. Learn more about these programs here and here.

Direct download: Gottlieb_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

The Israeli government’s recent decision to shelve a plan for a state-recognized egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall has widened the already deepening rift between Israeli and American Jews. And the debate that has arisen in its aftermath has raised vital questions about the relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.

In this podcast, which originally aired on May 16, 2016, Elliott Abrams joins Eric Cohen to discuss his Mosaic essay, “If American Jews and Israel Are Drifting Apart, What’s the Reason?” Abrams and Cohen confront some uncomfortable facts about the changing nature of American Jewry—facts that are as relevant today as they were when the essay was published.

Courtesy of Pro Musica Hebraica, musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim, and performed by the ARC Ensemble.


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