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Syndication

How do poetry and song convey Jewish meaning? Does Jewish poetry have to be liturgical? At the turn of the century, Ahad Ha’am challenged the early Zionist movement to conceive of the Jewish nation as a home for the Jewish national spirit. Even in the diaspora, the Jewish imagination needs tending. Who were the most prominent Jewish poets of the North American diaspora in the latter half of the twentieth century?

The late singer Leonard Cohen might not come first to mind, but in this podcast, Tablet Magazine’s Liel Leibovitz explores the reasons he should. Perhaps no artist better answered the call of Jewish cultural renewal than Leonard Cohen. Born in Montreal to an Orthodox family, Cohen became one of the most important North American musicians of the 20th century. Throughout his long career, he consistently drew on Jewish themes in his music, seamlessly interweaving biblical stories and kabbalistic ideas into songs that spoke of love, loss, and longing.

Drawing on his biography of Cohen, A Broken Hallelujah, Leibovitz and Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver read and discuss some of Cohen’s best songs, including  “Story of Isaac,” “You Want It Darker,” and of course, “Hallelujah.” As they do so, it becomes clear that Cohen was, at heart, a poet who took Judaism seriously.

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: Leibovitz_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:58am EDT

Through its countless runs on the Broadway stage and in an award-winning film, Fiddler on the Roof made Tevye the dairyman the most iconic Old World Jew in the American imagination. But before he burst into song on stage and screen, Tevye was the Sholem Aleichem’s comedic protagonist whose triumphs and tragedies showed readers how the rural Jewish fathers of Eastern Europe could deal with poverty, inequality, religious doubt, and, most of all, daughters.

In this podcast, former Harvard Professor and Tikvah Distinguished Senior Fellow Ruth Wisse joins Eric Cohen to discuss Sholem Aleichem’s most famous character. Focusing their discussion on the second installment of the Tevye stories, “Tevye Blows a Small Fortune,” Wisse and Cohen explore the comedy and tragedy of Sholem Aleichem’s writing, the character and values of Tevye, and what this country Jew can teach us about rootedness, tradition, and faith.

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.

If you enjoy this podcast and want to study more of Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories, we invite you to audit Tikvah’s upcoming summer course. For just $299, you can join Professor Wisse in person at the Tikvah Center in New York City for an eight-part study of Tevye’s triumphs and trials and what they can teach us about tradition and freedom. Click here to learn more about the course and enroll!

Direct download: Wisse_Tevye_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:31pm EDT

It was Thomas Jefferson, in a now-famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, who first wrote of a “wall of separation between Church & State.” And it has long been America’s Jews who have stood at the forefront of public arguments to keep that wall as high as possible. Why are Jews so devoted to the separation of religion and government? Is it because of a prudent assessment of Jewish interests? Or it the result of outdated beliefs that have calcified into secular dogma?

In one of his most important essays, “Church and State: How High a Wall?,” Milton Himmelfarb tackles these very questions. Published in Commentary in 1966, the piece argues that the American Jewish dedication to strict separationism is misguided and isolates the Jewish community from a democratic consensus in America without any obvious benefit.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by Professor Samuel Goldman of the George Washington University’s Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom to discuss this classic essay. They discuss the complex history and logic of American Jews’ changing attitudes toward church-state separation as well as the most powerful arguments against the separationist consensus. In so doing, they begin to paint a picture of what an authentically American idea of religious freedom ought to look like in a truly pluralistic America.

Direct download: Goldman_podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:50pm EDT

This episode originally aired on July 13, 2016. We bring it to you today in commemoration of Yom Yerushalayim and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s remarkable victory in the Six-Day War.

In this podcast, Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Bret Stephens about political life in Israel and America and the challenges of the Middle East and the Modern West. They discuss the legacy on the 1967 war, the work of Peter Beinart, and the dilemmas of Israeli decision-makers.

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.

 

Direct download: Bret_Stephens_Podcast_Reedited_Music.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:16pm EDT

The revelation at Sinai was central to the transformation of the people of Israel into a nation. Fresh from their Exodus from Egypt, at the foot of that mountain, a nation of slaves heard the Lord Himself pronounce His law—His “Ten Commandments”—prescribing proper conduct toward God and man. It would be hard to overstate the influence of the Decalogue in the history of West. Even in our increasingly post-Christian age, the Ten Commandments remain a potent cultural symbol. Yet, for all this familiarity, their true significance remains elusive.

In 2013, Leon Kass—one of America’s deepest thinkers—sought to shed light on how the Ten Commandments ought to be understood. Published as Mosaic’s inaugural essay, “The Ten Commandments: Why the Decalogue Matters” analyzes the meaning of each Divine command, placing it in the context of the Bible as a whole as well as the  permanent conditions of human nature.

In this Tikvah Podcast, Professor Kass joins Jonathan Silver for a reconsideration of this important piece of commentary. In a conversation that looks back toward creation and forward to the civic character of the modern Jewish State, Kass and Silver take a deep dive into the first five commandments and their meaning. Their wide-ranging discussion touches on the nature of God’s covenant with Israel, man’s relationship with nature, and the indispensable role of the family in the life of the people of Israel.

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: Kass_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

This episode originally aired on June 29, 2016. We bring it to you this week in honor of the re-publication of Norman Podhoretz’s memoir, Making It, as well as the upcoming celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem.

In this podcast, Eric Cohen is joined by Norman Podhoretz, the legendary former editor of Commentary. They discuss Podhoretz’s essay, “Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity.” Cohen talks to Podhoretz about the circumstances that inspired this piece, the feelings that being in Jerusalem stirs in him, and why modern men and women find Jewish particularity such a scandal.

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.

 


Using the essay "Innovation and Redemption: What Literature Means,” Ruth Wisse joins Eric Cohen to discuss the insights of famed literary critic, Cynthia Ozick. They ask if literature has a moral purpose, and observe how different approaches to the past inform creativity and the writing of fiction. Not only do Wisse and Cohen explore innovation and redemption, but they contrast innovation with experimentation. The distinction turns on an author’s view of cultural heritage, and whether inherited ideas can sustain and refresh the future, or the solipsistic notion that each generation creates artistic expression from nothing at all.

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.

Direct download: Wisse_Ozick_podcast_128k-2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:10pm EDT

How should Israelis think about the security and defense of the Jewish State when confronted with Palestinian claims to national sovereignty? What effect will Israel’s material prosperity have on the prospects for peace?  What role does honor and dignity, hadar, play in the statecraft of the Middle East?

Orator, statesman, writer, and political leader, Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky is one of the principal figures in the Zionist founding. In this podcast, journalist and author Yossi Klein Halevi joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss a pair of Jabotinsky essays from the 1920s. “The Iron Wall,” and “Ethics of the Iron Wall” develop a security doctrine for the future Jewish State that is grounded in a realistic assessment of the human condition, and a sober analysis of national aspirations. Halevi and Silver discuss Zionist thought and history, as well as the echoes of Jabotinsky that can be heard in Israeli politics today.

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: Yossi_Klein_Halevi.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:22pm EDT

Until recently, Tu B’Shvat—the Jewish “new year” for trees—was a minor observance on the Jewish calendar. It isn’t mentioned in the Bible, and the Talmud has little to say about how to observe the day. So why is it that, across the modern denominations, Tu B’Shvat has grown into a festival of larger significance? How did what Rabbi Irving Greenberg once called a “minor semi-festival” become an environmentalist blockbuster?

In this podcast, policy expert and presidential historian Tevi Troy joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss the history of Tu B’Shvat and its growing association with left-wing environmentalism. Using Troy’s 2015 Commentary essay, “I Think That I Shall Never See a Jew as Lovely as a Tree,” to guide their conversation, Troy and Silver discuss the history of the day and its politicization, opening up onto a larger discussion of the dangers of preaching politics from the pulpit and the proper Jewish attitude toward the conservation of nature.

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: Tevi_Troy_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:14pm EDT

American Jews have long been one of the Democratic Party’s most loyal voting blocs. Since 1928, the Democratic share of the Jewish vote has only once dipped below 50 percent in a presidential election. How did this rock-solid partisan loyalty develop? Is it likely to continue into the future? And what should we make of the Orthodox Jewish community, whose voting patterns increasingly diverge from those of their coreligionists? 

In this podcast, Eric Cohen is joined by former Bush Administration official Jay Lefkowitz and Tikvah Resident Research Fellow Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin to answer these questions and more. Using important analyses by Lefkowitz and Rocklin, they trace the past, present, and future of the Jewish vote in America. Their discussion touches on the history and nature of Jewish voting behavior, the movement of the Orthodox community into the Republican column, and what the latest trends portend for the future of the Jewish community, the conservative movement, and the United States.

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: Lefkowitz__Rocklin_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

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