The Tikvah Podcast

“Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist.”

So wrote the intellectual father of Communism, Karl Marx, in his “On the Jewish Question.” Though descended from rabbis on both sides of his family, his father had converted to Lutheranism, and Marx absorbed the classic anti-Semitic tropes that slandered the Jews as wicked and usurious. In fact, argues Jonah Goldberg in the pages of Commentary, Marx “hated capitalism in no small part because he hated Jews.”

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver sits down with Goldberg to discuss his April 2018 essay, “Karl Marx’s Jew-Hating Conspiracy Theory.” In a conversation that touches on everything from medieval history and political theory to economics and psychology, Goldberg makes the case that Marxism is less a vision of economics, and more a conspiracy theory in which a Jewish bourgeoisie exploits global labor to satisfy its own avarice. Karl Marx’s progressive vision of a world after capital is a secular utopia, and so, in this discussion, Goldberg will help us follow the Marxist logic from this utopian premise: if the Jews are the exploiting, moneyed interest in society, then antipathy against the Jews is redemptive for society. In that way, Marx’s ideas offer a template for anti-Semitism, a repackaging of mankind’s very oldest bigotry, that endures to this very day.

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 “Shining Through the Rain” by Big Score Audio.

Direct download: Jonah_Goldberg_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:03am EST

In the decades since Israel’s founding, the United Nations has been a hostile environment for the Jewish state first recognized by 33 sovereign nations in the U.N. General Assembly. For many years, it has seemed that the best an Israeli U.N. ambassador could do was to prevent harm. And Israel has sent some of its ablest defenders—Abba Eban, Chaim Herzog, Benjamin Netanyahu—to do just that. But Israel’s current U.N. ambassador has changed the rules of the diplomatic game.

Ambassador Danny Danon was appointed to his current post in 2015, after a career in Zionist activism, the Knesset, and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government. He has spent the last three and a half years building coalitions, calling Israel’s enemies to justice, and going on offense at the U.N.

In this conversation—his first ever podcast appearance—Ambassador Danon provides an overview of his work at the United Nations. He describes Israel’s relationships with America, Russia, China, and the Gulf states, discusses the strategic challenge of Iran, and reflects on how Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians affects his work. In this briefing on Israel at the U.N., Ambassador Danon gives us an inside look at Israel’s campaign to strengthen its global diplomatic position.

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 “Shining Through the Rain” by Big Score Audio.

Direct download: Danny_Danon_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:58am EST

The Tikvah Podcast is back and better than ever. We went back to the drawing board, and are excited to let you know that in the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you interviews with Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, the Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran, Temple Sinai’s Rabbi David Wolpe, and many more incredible guests. We are also pleased to announce a brand new partnership with the best publication of Jewish ideas anywhere, Mosaic.

If you enjoy the Tikvah Podcast, we hope you’ll subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play, and that you leave us a five-star review. If you would like to send us your thoughts on the podcast, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other feedback, you can send us an email at podcast@tikvahfund.org. Thank you for your support and we look forward to a new year of great conversations on Jewish essays and ideas.

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: Podcast_Relaunch_Ep_0_v5.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:18pm EST

Recent years have seen a nationalist revival sweep across the globe. Is this a cause for celebration or a reason to worry?

In the Tikvah Fund's upcoming online course, "The Meaning of Jewish Nationalism," we invite you to join Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony for an exploration of the idea of nationalism from its biblical roots to its modern rebirth.

Dr. Hazony, author of the widely-acclaimed book "The Virtue of Nationalism," is one of our age's pre-eminent defenders of a world governed by independent nations. Today, Tikvah is pleased to bring you the first episode of his online course free-of-charge. The full, six-part course will be released on January 31. If you want to be notified as soon as the course is available, just click here and enter your contact information.

Direct download: YH_Lecture1_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25pm EST

From the Pittsburgh shooting to rising anti-Semitism in Europe, from the U.S. embassy move to the Trump Administration’s exit from the Iran deal, from Michael Chabon’s controversial speech at Hebrew Union College to Israel’s new nation-state law, 2018 has been a big year for the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Through it all, the Tikvah Podcast has tried both to stay above the fray—at a remove from the news cycle—and to be engaged with the contemporary challenges facing the Jewish people throughout the world. Our hope is that by treading this unique path, we’ve helped you, our listeners, deepen your understanding of Jewish affairs, Jewish philosophy, Jewish texts, and Jewish statesmanship.

So as the year comes to a close, we bring you selections from a few of our best conversations from 2018. We hope these excerpts shed light on the past and give us some guidance, and maybe even inspiration, for the future.

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 “Shining Through the Rain” by Big Score Audio.

Direct download: End_of_Year_Podcast_Mash-Up_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:28pm EST

“Hark, my beloved knocks! ‘Let me in, my own, My darling, my faultless dove! For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of night.’”

The fifth chapter of the biblical Song of Songs tells the story of two lovers who long for each other, but see their reunion thwarted by lethargy and indifference. The great commentators of the Jewish tradition have long seen the Song of Solomon as an extended metaphor for the relationship between God and the People of Israel. The Almighty knocks at the door of His chosen nation, but will Israel answer His call?

That is the question Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik posed to a rapt audience at Yeshiva University on Israel’s Independence Day in 1956. Delivered in the tense days leading up to the Suez Crisis, Soloveitchik’s speech, titled “Kol Dodi Dofek,” “Hark, My Beloved Knocks,” uses the Song of Songs to place before American Jews a hortatory call: through the creation of the State of Israel, God knocked at the door of the Jewish people. Will the Jews of America open the door and stand beside the reborn Jewish state in its hour of need?

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter for a discussion of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s speech, later published as a short book entitled Fate and Destiny. Rabbi Schacter describes the dramatic historical background of Soloveitchik’s address and guides us through the “six knocks” that demonstrate God’s involvement in the creation of the State of Israel. He also discusses Rabbi Soloveitchik’s attitude toward suffering, messianism, and secular Zionism in a conversation as relevant today as when it was first delivered over half a century ago.

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 “Shining Through the Rain” by Big Score Audio.

If you enjoy this podcast and want learn more from Rabbi Schacter about the life and thought of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, we hope you will enroll in Rabbi Schacter’s online course, “Majesty and Humility: The Life, Legacy, and Thought of Joseph B. Soloveitchik.” Visit Courses.TikvahFund.org to sign up.

Direct download: Schacter_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:17am EST

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

Thus speaks Jesus in the Book of Matthew, condemning the forerunners of Judaism’s great rabbis for neglecting the spirit of the law, even while upholding its letter. Such condemnations are found throughout the New Testament, and this classic Christian critique of halakhah, Jewish law, has been repeated throughout the millennia by Jewish and Gentile critics of traditional Judaism. Yet, Judaism’s sages have long maintained that halakhah represents the will of the Almighty, and that its careful study can allow us a glimpse into His mind.

How can the study of rules surrounding marriage and divorce, the Sabbath and tort law, draw us closer to God? This is one of the questions at the heart of Professor Chaim Saiman’s new book, Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law, published by Princeton University Press as part of the Tikvah Fund’s Library of Jewish Ideas series. This remarkable book—written for laymen and experts alike—demonstrates how the rabbis of the Talmud use the language of law to tackle questions of values, theology, beauty, the nature of man, and much more. Behind the legal details of the Oral Torah lies an entire body of thought about the deepest questions of human life.

In this podcast, Professor Saiman joins Tikvah Senior Director Rabbi Mark Gottlieb to discuss his book. They explore what makes the study of Talmud so peculiar in our modern world, the deeper meaning of rabbinic legal discourse, and whether the word “law” is even a fitting way to describe the intricate system of value-laden practice that makes up the halakhah.

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 “Engineered to Perfection” by Peter Nickalls.

Direct download: Saiman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:16am EST

Falling out annually during the American holiday season, Hanukkah in the United States can feel like little more than a Jewish version of Christmas, subsumed by America’s cultural melting pot. But the story of Hanukkah couldn’t be more countercultural: it is an affirmation of Jewish particularism and pride that celebrates the triumph of Jewish nationalism and the reclamation of Jewish sovereignty. So it is not surprising that this holiday and its most prominent symbol, the menorah, took on a special importance to Zionism’s early visionaries, and especially to Theodor Herzl.

In his beautiful essay, “The Menorah,” published in the Zionist newspaper Die Welt in December of 1897, Herzl writes of an enlightened Jew’s rediscovery of Hanukkah and celebration of the holiday with his children. The piece—almost certainly autobiographical—is a profound meditation on Jewish tradition, Zionist renewal, and the connection between Jewish nationalism and Jewish faith.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Alan Rubenstein is joined by Herzl expert Dr. Daniel Polisar of Shalem College for a discussion of this essay. Dr. Polisar—who recently taught an online course for the Tikvah Fund on “Theodor Herzl: The Birth of Political Zionism”—guides us through a close reading of the text of “The Menorah,” uncovering the political meaning and historical background behind the essay. In doing so, he helps us feel a renewed sense of Jewish pride ahead of the holiday.

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 “Engineered to Perfection” by Peter Nickalls.

If you enjoy this podcast and want to hear more from Dr. Polisar, we hope you will enroll in his online course on Theodor Herzl at Courses.TikvahFund.org.

Direct download: Polisar_Menorah_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:43pm EST

With men clad in the hats and dark coats of old Eastern European Jewry and women walking with covered heads and modest attire, it can appear at first glance like the haredim—often called the “ultra-Orthodox”—are as conservative as Jews come. But though much haredi thought certainly arises from a conservative disposition, the haredi outlook has rarely been defended in self-consciously conservative terms. And there are many things about the haredi model of isolation from the secular world that are in fact quite radical.

But even ultra-Orthodox society is not static. Facing new realities and new challenges, some haredim are beginning to undergo profound changes in their attitudes toward work, the State of Israel, and worldly wisdom. One of the haredi thinkers and activists working to guide and make sense of this “new haredi” movement is Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, a haredi scholar and dayan (rabbinical judge) as well as head of Tikvah’s haredi Israel division and editor of Tikvah’s journal Tzarich Iyun, a Hebrew language publication written by haredim, and for haredim.

In this podcast, Rabbi Pfeffer joins Tikvah Senior Director Rabbi Mark Gottlieb to discuss Pfeffer’s important essay, “Toward a Conservative Chareidi-ism,” published in Hakirah in the fall of 2017. Rabbi Pfeffer’s essay is an effort to provide intellectual analysis and guidance to a haredi society undergoing inevitable and consequential changes. Rabbi Pfeffer argues that if Israel’s ultra-Orthodox are to adapt to a changing world while preserving all that is good and beautiful about their way of life, then they would be well-served by drawing on the richness of the Anglo-American conservative tradition.

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: Pfeffer_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:14pm EST

What is the best political order for the world? Are universal empire and global governance the path to peace and prosperity? Or is a world made up of self-governing, independent nations the surest guarantee of individual and collective freedom? In his new book, The Virtue of Nationalism, Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony makes the case for the national state, arguing that despite the prejudices of global elites, nationalism is a noble political tradition to which we ought to return.

Many of the arguments in the book were first published as a Mosaic monthly essay, entitled "Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom." In this podcast, first aired on September 21, 2016, Hazony and Eric Cohen discuss this essay and how the Hebrew Bible can help us understand the renewed nationalism sweeping the West.

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.


What is the good? How can wisdom-seeking men and women discover it? And how can knowing it help us live worthy lives?

These are the questions Professor Leon Kass has been pursuing for over half a century. Born into a secular, Yiddish-speaking home, Dr. Kass earned his medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry before turning his attention to the world of the humanities and the wisdom of Athens. Thus began a decades-long career of teaching and public service that has taken him from the University of Chicago to the President’s Council on Bioethics, from Washington think tanks to Israel’s first liberal arts college. During this time, Professor Kass has been a prolific writer, publishing countless essays, many of which have now been gathered in his newest book, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times.

In this remarkable podcast, Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen sits down with his teacher and mentor for a wide-ranging conversation about Professor Kass’s new book as well as his life, work, and intellectual journey. They discuss the Jewish milieu of Kass’s youth, the nature of liberal learning, the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible, and the winding path Dr. Kass has followed as he moves—intellectually and spiritually—ever closer to Jerusalem.

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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of pre-college students at one of Tikvah’s summer programs. Click here to learn more about our educational offerings for students and young professionals.

Direct download: Leon_Kass_Podcast_Worthy_Life_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:03pm EST

In the first two years of his administration, President Donald Trump has already redefined the American approach to Israel and the Middle East: fulfilling his promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, working to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, confronting anti-Israel sentiment at the U.N., and promising to put forward a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is the larger strategy behind the Trump policy? Is it succeeding? And how does Trump’s Israel strategy fit within the history of the America-Israel relationship from Truman to Nixon to Carter to Bush?

Michael Doran is one of the world’s leading experts and most influential voices on Middle East politics and history. After holding high-level White House positions in national security in the Bush administration, he is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. On August 6, 2018, Dr. Doran spoke to a packed room at the Tikvah Center about the chaotic friendship that has characterized the President Trump's policy toward the Jewish state.

Direct download: Doran_intro.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 1:04pm EST

On May 14, 2018, the Jewish novelist Michael Chabon strode across the dais, shook Rabbi David Ellenson’s hand, and began to deliver the commencement address at the graduation ceremony of the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Los Angeles.

What did he say to the graduates of one of Reform Judaism’s most venerable institutions?

He denounced Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and spoke out against its security barrier. He lamented the outdated particularism of, and the boundaries created by, Jewish ritual. And he spoke in opposition to the longstanding Jewish practice of endogamy—Jews marrying other Jews—calling endogamous marriage a “ghetto of two.”

Chabon’s speech prompted a chorus of criticism from many corners, including from some Reform rabbis. One of them was Rabbi Clifford Librach, who spent many years serving as a pulpit rabbi in Reform temples. In “Paying the Price for Abandoning Jewish Peoplehood,” published in Tablet, Rabbi Librach laments the current state of Reform Judaism, painting a picture of a movement that allowed its fierce commitment to universalism destroy it from within. In this podcast, he joins Jonathan Silver for a discussion of the Reform movement’s history and current troubles, the dangers of repudiating Jewish particularism, and the ray of hope offered by the success of the modern State 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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

Direct download: Librach_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:44pm EST

America is living through a partisan age, with the seemingly intractable divides between Republicans and Democrats dominating our political discourse. But when it comes to the area of foreign policy, argues the Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran, the most important division is not between Right and Left. It is, rather, theological in nature, pitting the intellectual descendants of Protestant modernists against the heirs of the Protestant fundamentalist tradition.

In a truly groundbreaking essay, “The Theology of Foreign Policy,” first delivered as the 2018 First Things Lecture in Washington, D.C., Dr. Doran traces the intellectual history of these two religious schools of thought from the Scopes “Monkey Trial” to the founding of the United Nations to contemporary debates about America’s relationship with Israel and the Arab world. This week, he joins Jonathan Silver on the Tikvah Podcast to discuss his essay and how it can help us illuminate our current foreign policy controversies about everything from Russia to the Middle East.

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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

Direct download: Doran_Theology_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:59am EST

Contemporary Americans are living through an age of expressive individualism. No right, it seems, is as sacrosanct as the right to define one's own identity free of social constraint and opprobrium. And no phenomenon better captures this spirit of the age than the rise of the transgender movement. In the worldview of the trans movement's activists, an individual's biological sex, gender, and sexual orientation have little to no relationship to each other, and the objective facts of biology must always yield to the subjective self-conception of the individual.

In Commentary’s April 2018 cover story, “The Disappearance of Desire,” Sohrab Ahmari takes a deep dive into the world of today’s transgender activists. And he challenges the facts and science behind the reigning cultural orthodoxies about how best to help transgender individuals live lives of true fulfillment and dignity.

In this podcast, Ahmari joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay. In a conversation that spans philosophy, science, and culture, Ahmari and Silver seek to understand the worldview of the champions of transgender rights and wrestle with its implications for the way we understand, sex, desire, and the human person.

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: Sohrab_Ahmari_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:46am EST

In the last decade, a fascinating area of political thought has begun to receive increasing attention from scholars in the field: the political philosophy of the Hebrew Bible. After all, at the core of Scripture lies the story of the creation of the nation of Israel and the rise and fall of its first commonwealth—a narrative that can be mined not only for religious guidance, but also for social and political wisdom.

Perhaps no contemporary thinker has devoted as much attention to the Bible’s political teaching as Herzl Institute President Yoram Hazony. Author of God and Politics in Esther, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, and much more, Dr. Hazony is a leading pioneer in the field of Hebraic political thought. In this podcast, Dr. Hazony joins Jonathan Silver for an discussion about one of his early essays on this topic, “Does the Bible Have a Politcal Teaching?” Published in 2006 in Hebraic Political Studies, the piece takes a close look at the sweep of biblical history and makes the case that the Hebrew Bible seeks to find a middle path between the tyranny of the imperial state and the anarchy of tribal politics. In this conversation, Hazony and Silver examine the key arguments of the essay as well as the bias against the Bible in the modern academy and Scripture’s influence on the modern West.

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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Hertog Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Direct download: Hazony_Podcast_Biblical_Politics_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:13am EST

Jerusalem—the “eternal capital” of the Jewish people—is at once the cultural, spiritual, and strategic center of the modern Jewish state. Ambassador Dore Gold is one of Jerusalem’s greatest guardians, and his wide-ranging perspective is remarkable: senior advisor to the prime minister, representative of Israel on the world stage, strategic thinker about the future of the Middle East, and historian who has explained to the world the real history of the Jewish capital. On June 19, 2018, he joined Eric Cohen at the Tikvah Center in New York to explore the political, cultural, and religious future of Jerusalem, just weeks after the historic opening of America's new embassy.

Direct download: Dore_Gold_v2_audio.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 12:26pm EST

The great thinkers of Athens sought to understand man’s place in the world through the medium of philosophy. But the prophets of Jerusalem explored man’s role and obligations through the art of storytelling. In the Hebrew Bible and the Midrashic tradition, in modern Yiddish literature and contemporary Jewish cinema, Jews have used powerful stories as the medium through which they explore and convey the rhythms, history, and wisdom of the Jewish condition.

In the 20th century, Jewish artists produced a plethora of films that captured the American Jewish experience at key moments in modern history. And there is no one better suited to discuss the best and worst of Jewish cinema than Commentary Editor and prolific movie critic John Podhoretz. In this podcast, Podhoretz chats with Jonathan Silver about everything from The Jazz Singer and Exodus to Schindler’s List and X-Men, evaluating their success—or failure—at illuminating the tension between tradition and modernity, the drama of the Zionist project, and the horrors of the Holocaust.

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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Tikvah Center in New York City. If you would like to find out about future Tikvah events and live podcast recordings, please email membership@tikvahfund.org and ask about joining the Tikvah Society.

Direct download: JPod_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:12am EST

Once the beating heart of world Jewish life, Europe has given way to the United States and Israel as home to the overwhelming majority of Jews. In fact, 21st-century Europe is once again shedding its Jewish population as it becomes an increasingly harder place for them to build their lives.

How did this come to pass? How can it be that less than a century after the Holocaust wiped out most of European Jewry, the continent’s remaining Jews face an increasingly hostile environment?

This is just one of the many question Jamie Kirchick tackles in his new book, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. In this podcast, Kirchick joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the book. They begin by examining the roots of Europe’s current economic and geopolitical discontents. But the conversation soon turns to the present situation faced by Europe’s Jews as the continent struggles to deal with a growing immigration crisis and resurgent populism on both the Left and the Right. As they explore the post-Cold War history of Europe, the decline of its cultural confidence, and the perilous future of European Jewry, Kirchick and Silver push us to consider the prospect of a Europe without Jews and what that would augur for the continent and the world.

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 Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

Direct download: Kirchick_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:49am EST

 

This week, instead of one of our regular conversations on great Jewish essays and ideas, we are pleased to introduce you to a brand new podcast, Kikar: Conversations in the Jewish Public Square, produced by our partners at the Jewish Leadership Conference. Kikar will broadcast conversations with some of the most important figures in Jewish life and public affairs in order to address the vital questions facing the Jewish people. You’ll hear about an extraordinary breadth of subjects, ranging from Zionist thought to the aims of Jewish education, from family formation to the First Amendment, from Israeli security to American federalism and much more.

In this first episode, recorded soon after the conclusion of the 'Great March of Return' protests in Gaza, Jonathan Silver sits with Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Elliott Abrams to discuss the media strategy of Hamas, Israeli security and alliance management, and whether there is a deeper moral argument for the use of Jewish power to defend Jewish lives.

We hope you'll subscribe to Kikar on iTunes or Stitcher. And if you have not already subscribes to the Tikvah Podcast, we hope you'll find us on iTunes and Stitcher as well.

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: Kikar_Abrams_for_Tikvah_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:06pm EST

Cui bono? Who benefits? Who benefits when Jews are turned into scapegoats for the ills of the world? Who stands to gain from turning the Jews into the source of all a society’s pathologies? Who comes out ahead when politics are organized against that ever-present outsider—the Jew?

These kinds of questions—questions about the political functions of anti-Semitism—are, regrettably, rarely asked by those who seek to understand the phenomenon. Often, anti-Semitism is understood as but one prejudice among many, another irrational hatred that infects the human heart. But to view anti-Semitism in this way, argues Professor Ruth Wisse, is to misunderstand its true nature as a ruthlessly effective political movement. In “The Functions of Anti-Semitism,” published in National Affairs in the fall of 2017, Professor Wisse analyzes the many uses of Jew-hatred and makes the case for studying anti-Semitism using the tools of political science.

In this podcast, Professor Wisse joins Jonathan Silver to explore her essay in greater depth. They examine the history of modern anti-Semitism from its genesis in 19th-century Germany to its manifestations in the Muslim world and contemporary college campuses. Wisse and Silver demonstrate, through a methodical look at the nature and functions of anti-Semitism, that if one wants to understand this most persistent of hatreds, one must look for its roots not in the Jew, but in the anti-Semite.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Wisse_Anti-Semitism_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Shmuel Yosef Agnon was one of the giants of modern Hebrew literature. His short stories, novels, and anthologies reflected and shaped the national spirit of the Jewish people in an age that witnessed the rise of Zionism, the founding of Israel, and the horror of the Holocaust. In 1966, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first—and to this day the only—Hebrew writer to receive the honor.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Alan Rubenstein is joined by Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, one of the world’s most renowned scholars of Agnon, to discuss his life, work, and legacy. Rabbi Saks, the founding director of ATID, recently completed his work assembling the S.Y. Agnon Library—a collection of over a dozen English translations of Agnon’s writings—for the Toby Press. Rubenstein and Saks use two essays to frame their discussion: "S. Y. Agnon—The Last Hebrew Classic?" by Gershom Scholem (later published in Commentary as "Reflections on S.Y. Agnon") and "Agnon’s Shaking Bridge and the Theology of Culture" by Rabbi Saks. They discuss the differences between Agnon’s real life and his literary persona, the distinct features that make him such a unique Jewish writer, and the perils of reading Agnon both in Hebrew and in translation.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Saks_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:32am EST

When Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Knesset in January of 2018, he hearkened back to America’s biblical heritage, recalling the pilgrims who saw themselves as charged with building a new promised land. “In the story of the Jews,” proclaimed Pence, “we’ve always seen the story of America.”

In the modern United States, this kind of rhetoric is common among conservative Evangelical Christians like Vice President Pence. But Christian sympathy for the Jewish national cause dates back much further than the rise of the modern Christian Right; indeed, it stretches back to the very beginnings of American political culture. In his new book, God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America, Professor Samuel Goldman of the George Washington University explores the fascinating history of America’s uniquely strong attachment to the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

In this podcast, Professor Goldman joins Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver to discuss his book. Beginning with the colonial period, Goldman traces the long history of Christian philo-Semitism, proto-Zionism, and Zionism in the Unites States. Touching on everything from theology to pop culture, Goldman and Silver illuminate the depths and complexities of American Christians’ connection with Zionism—a connection that is deeply embedded in the America’s soul.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Goldman_Podcast_Gods_Country_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

On May 12, 1948, just three days before the end of the British Mandate, the People’s Administration, the yishuv’s proto-cabinet, met in Tel Aviv and held a vote that would decide Israel’s future. According to most histories of the period, the Administration’s members voted on whether to move toward independence or accept a truce that would have forestalled an all-out war but delayed Israel’s creation. In the popular account of the meeting, David Ben-Gurion stiffened the spines of his comrades and the decision was made to declare independence.

There’s just one problem: that vote never happened.

That’s the argument historian Martin Kramer of Shalem College makes in his Mosaic essay, “The May 1948 Vote That Made the State of Israel.” Carefully reviewing the minutes of the meeting and other available evidence, Kramer makes the case that the decision to declare independence was never in doubt. There was, however, another vote that would change the course of Israel’s history for the next seven decades. At Ben-Gurion’s urging, the leadership of the state-in-the-making decided that it would not be bound by the borders of the U.N. Partition Plan. Instead, as it fought to defend itself from Arab aggression, Israel would let the fortunes of war decide what territory the Jewish state would hold.

In this podcast, Martin Kramer joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay. He explores the historical record of what happened at that fateful meeting and explains why it is important we understand the truth about that day’s vote. As he illuminates the hidden history of the state’s birth, Kramer shows us how May 1948 is but a microcosm of the modern history 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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Kramer_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:06pm EST

It is common today to hear those who are hostile to traditional religion accuse the pious of unwarranted certainty about the truths of the universe. Yet, in the Jewish tradition, one finds something else altogether. Jewish texts often tell the stories of men and women who strive for knowledge, divine and human, amidst a great deal of uncertainty. From Moses—who could not see the face of God—to Job—who was rebuked by the Lord for presuming to know too much—even the biblical figures who have the most intimate relationships with God demonstrate the limits of human knowledge.

The notion that some measure of ignorance is intrinsic to the human condition has been shared by many thinkers throughout history. In the 20th century, there was perhaps no better articulator of the idea than Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian economist and social theorist. He wrote frequently about the limits of what any one individual can know and criticized those economists and technocrats who exhibited what he derisively called “the pretence of knowledge.” For Hayek, true knowledge is dispersed and built up over many years and embodied in price signals, social customs, and traditions that have stood the test of time.

Hayek wrote and thought in the context of the social sciences, but do his insights about knowledge and ignorance point to understandings shared by the Jewish tradition? In this podcast, Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver is joined by economist Russ Roberts to tackle this question. Roberts, host of the popular EconTalk podcast, is himself an observant Jew, and he helps us think through what Hayek’s epistemology has in common with the Jewish tradition as well as how they differ. As he does so, we will see how ancient Jewish philosophy and modern social thought can help bring each other into clearer focus.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Russ_Roberts_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:51am EST

“I know Jews who go to jail for blacks and Puerto Ricans and Chicanos and Pygmies. I know rabbis who went to Selma to get arrested. But I don’t know of a single rabbi who broke the law when the crematoria were being fed with twelve thousand Jews every day…Never again will Jews watch silently while other Jews die. Never again!”

Thus thundered Rabbi Meir Kahane before a crowd of thousands at a rally for Soviet Jews organized by his militant Jewish Defense League (JDL). In that crowd was a teenager from Borough Park who found himself drawn to the JDL’s embrace of Jewish power and contempt for the American Jewish establishment. That boy, Yossi Klein Halevi, would later move to Israel and become one of the most prominent authors and writers on the Jewish scene—but not before taking a winding journey into and out of the fringes of the Jewish Right.

In 1995, Halevi chronicled his experiences in the Soviet Jewry movement and the JDL in a remarkable book entitled Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist. Republished in 2014, the book traces the trajectory of Halevi’s life and thinking from his childhood in Brooklyn to a sit-in at the Moscow Emigration Office to his current home in Israel. In so doing, it provides a unique glimpse into the complex psychology of the generation of American Jews who came of age in the years immediately after the Holocaust.

In this podcast, Halevi sits down with Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver to discuss his memoir. As Halevi retells the story of what drew him into, and drove him away from, Meir Kahane and JDL, he helps us get a clearer picture of what the Jewish militants of the '60s and '70s got wrong about post-war American Jewry—and gives us valuable insight into what they got right.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Halevi_Podcast_Memoirs_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:03pm EST

Militarily, diplomatically, and culturally, the relationship between the United States and Israel is both unprecedented and unique. And, for Israel, it is an indispensable pillar of its national security strategy. Yet, while great-power support has been an important strategic goal for Israel since David Ben-Gurion, the Jewish State has become so dependent on America that it rarely takes major diplomatic or military action without first consulting Washington. Has the “special relationship”—so vital for Israel’s survival—also compromised its sovereignty? Has Israel become too dependent on the United States?

This is precisely the question Charles D. Freilich tackles in his February 2018 Mosaic essay. In the piece, Freilich—a former deputy national security adviser in Israel and a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center—explores the origins of the important alliance between the U.S. and Israel, as well as its costs and benefits to the Jewish State and how best to maintain the health of the alliance in the future.

In this podcast, Dr. Freilich joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay as well as his larger vision of U.S.-Israel relations. They detail the tremendous benefits Israel has received from its partnership with America as well as the significant constraints Israel has allowed Washington to place on its freedom of action. As they explore how to strengthen the alliance going forward, their conversation also touches on the Iranian nuclear program, the Palestinian question, and what a serious Israeli national security strategy should look like in the coming years.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Freilich_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:26pm EST

“It is not for nothing,” Norman Podhoretz once wrote, “that a cruel wag has described…services in a Reform temple as ‘the Democratic Party at prayer.’” The truth to which this old quip points is not simply that most American Jews are liberal, but that too many Jews use the faith of their ancestors as window dressing for their left-wing politics. This ought to perturb Jews of all religious persuasions, conservatives and liberals alike.

In January of 2018, Jeffrey Salkin, a Reform rabbi and the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida, penned a piece in Commentary calling on his liberal Jewish colleagues to abandon what he called a “Judaism of slogans.” Far too often, Rabbi Salkin argues, progressive Jews make sloppy use of Jewish texts in order to justify the political positions they already hold. This kind of lazy sloganeering, he writes, fails to do justice to “a people with an unparalleled tradition of religious scholarship and spiritual breadth.”

In this podcast, Rabbi Salkin sits down with Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver for a conversation about the uses and misuses of Judaism in politics. They unpack some of the most common slogans used by Jewish activists and show how the source texts are far too complex to fit on a bumper sticker. They also explore the place of social justice activism in liberal Judaism and ponder the tensions and future of the Reform Movement in America.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Salkin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:20pm EST

The twenty second Mishnah of the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot is one of the most celebrated rabbinic descriptions of the depth of the Torah tradition. “Ben Bag-Bag said: Turn it, and turn it over again, for everything is in it.” The texts of the Jewish tradition sustain endless new layers of meaning; so many, in fact, that the wisdom of the Torah can be plumbed for a lifetime.

And while Jewish educators think a lot about how to educate the young, less attention is paid to how Jewish education should continue into the fullness of adulthood. This is a weighty question; not least because Jewish parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are the most direct and perhaps most influential teachers of Jewish children, who will be influenced at least as much by their home environment, and what happens around their Shabbat table, as they are by what happens in the classroom of the school. So who’s thinking about educating these educators, the mothers and fathers of the next Jewish generation?

In this podcast, Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver is joined by Dr. Erica Brown, one of the most prominent teachers of Jewish text in the United States and someone who has carved out a niche in adult education.

In 2010, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an op-ed about Erica’s teaching and writing. He wrote that, “Brown’s impact stems from her ability to undermine the egos of the successful at the same time that she lovingly helps them build better lives.…Most educational institutions emphasize individual advancement. Brown nurtures the community and the group.” In this conversation, Dr. Brown elucidates how she thinks about Jewish education, the health of Jewish institutions in the United States, and her calling as a teacher and builder of communities of Jewish learning.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: EBrown_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:15pm EST

In 2007, Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator and candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was asked in a debate whether he would meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran and other rogue regimes. “I would,” he replied. In 2015, the world saw then-President Obama fulfill the promise of his campaign when the United States led the powers of the world, including Russia and China, to affirm the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly known as the “Iran Deal.” The agreement lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in return for commitments designed to forestall its development of a nuclear weapon. Backlash against the deal was swift in both Israel and America, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning the deal and the Republican Congress passing legislation that would give future presidents and Congresses tools to undermine the agreement.

Ten years after candidate Obama’s promise to negotiate with Iran, President Donald Trump refused to certify that the Iran Deal was in the national security interest of the United States, putting other stakeholders in the American government and world counterparts on notice: either fix it, or nix it. But what does “fixing” the pact entail, and what might happen if the United States declares it void? America’s leaders are now faced with the momentous task of crafting a stronger arrangement to contain Iran, all while being ready to reinstate severe sanctions.

In this podcast, Mark Dubowitz joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the uncertain future of the Iran Deal. Dubowitz is CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on Iran’s illicit nuclear program. He helps us think through the arguments for and against the Iran Deal as it currently stands and the implications President Trump’s decision to decertify the deal. In the course of their conversation, Silver and Dubowitz help chart a path toward an American Iran policy rooted in strength, a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian regime, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to prevent one of the world’s most dangerous regimes from becoming a nuclear power.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Direct download: Dubowitz_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:01pm EST

In December of 2017, Nikki Haley, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, stood before the General Assembly and gave the body a stunning rebuke. The General Assembly had just voted to condemn the Trump Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Haley took to the podium to stand up for Israel as well as the sovereignty and moral authority of the United States.

For many, Haley’s sharp words called to mind the career and rhetoric of her predecessor, former U.N. Ambassador and United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It was during his time in Turtle Bay that the U.N. passed its infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism, a move Moynihan condemned in the strongest of terms. Several years later, when Israel was once again a target at the U.N., America abstained from Security Council votes on a pair of anti-Israel resolutions, and in 1981, then-Senator Moynihan blasted the Carter Administration’s moral cowardice in a Commentary piece titled, “Joining the Jackals.” The article is a reflection on President Carter’s dangerous diplomatic policy, and a clarion call for America to protect its interests by standing up for its friends and confronting its enemies.

In this podcast, political scientist Greg Weiner joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss Moynihan’s essay. Weiner, author of American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, takes a close look at the ambassador’s worldview, illustrating how it informed his arguments in “Joining the Jackals.” As Weiner and Silver show, the life, thought, and moral courage of this Cold War liberal have a great deal to teach us about how America can protect its allies, interests, and moral prerogatives within the global community.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel, and “Further Down the Path” by Big Score Audio.

Direct download: Weiner_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:16am EST

Since God confused the language of man at the Tower of Babel, humankind has been divided into a multiplicity of national identities. Yet, despite the antiquity of the national idea, it remains hard to define precisely what constitutes nationhood. The Jewish experience demonstrates that it is possible to maintain a national identity without political sovereignty, but this reality begs the question: What is a nation? Is it a shared ethnic identity? Shared language? Shared history?

In 1882, the French historian Ernest Renan delivered a lecture at the Sorbonne entitled, “What is a Nation?” For Renan, nationhood is not simply political or ethnic category, but a “spiritual principle.” He argues that being part of a nation is about a subjective identification with that nation’s past and future, and that nationalism, rightly understood, can ennoble life and enrich civilization.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Alan Rubenstein is joined by Shalem College Executive Vice President Daniel Polisar for a discussion of Renan’s speech and the light it can shed on American, Jewish, and Zionist identity. Their conversation begins with an outline of Renan’s thought and continues to tease out its implication for Jewish peoplehood, the Palestinian question, and the identity of Jews who are both American patriots and fervent Zionists. At a time when nationalism is reasserting itself throughout the world, from England and America to Europe, India, and Japan, Rubenstein and Polisar show how a recovery of a morally and philosophically sound nationalism is as vital a task 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 “Further Down the Path” by Big Score Audio and “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the World Mizrachi Organization in Jerusalem.

Direct download: Polisar_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:25pm EST

Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church’s 1965 Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, was a watershed in the history of Jewish-Christian relations. It repudiated the slander of deicide and took a stand against anti-Semitism, and in so doing, opened the door to dialogue between Jews, Catholics, and Christians of many other denominations.

Several decades later, a group of over 170 Jewish scholars offered what some saw as a kind of Jewish response to the titanic shift brought about by Nostra Aetate. Dabru Emet, “Speak the Truth,” set out a set of principles regarding how Jews and Christians might relate to one another and build a foundation for interfaith cooperation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not all Jewish scholars could get behind the statement. In “How Not to Conduct Jewish-Christian Dialogue,” published in Commentary, and “Judaism Addresses Christianity,” published in Jacob Neusner’s Religious Foundations of Western Civilization, Professor Jon Levenson of Harvard University raises serious concerns with the planks of Dabru Emet. If interfaith dialogue is to have real meaning, Levenson argues, it cannot paper over irreconcilable religious differences or flatten religious conviction in order to create a veneer of agreement.

In this podcast, Levenson sits down with Tikvah’s Alan Rubenstein to discuss the dangers and opportunities posed by Jewish-Christian dialogue. They explore the purpose of interfaith discourse, the importance of the theological disagreements between Jews and Christians, and the dangers of suppressing religious disagreement in the name of cooperation. Professor Levenson demonstrates how Jews can enthusiastically embrace the importance of religious dialogue with Christians while remaining true to what makes Jews different.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Abigail Adams Institute at Harvard University. Jon Levenson is a member of the Tikvah Summer Institute faculty. Click here to learn more about our Institutes and other summer programs.

Direct download: Levenson_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:10pm EST

Friends and critics alike agree that the late political philosopher Leo Strauss is one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. He inspired many in the academy to return to the classics in search of enduring wisdom, and there are now courses all over the world that present the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza as thinkers just as relevant today as they were in their own times. And the great light that Strauss’s thought shone on political philosophy has illuminated the path for men and women whose business is statecraft, alongside those whose business is writing and teaching.

Perhaps the central tension of Strauss’s life and thought was that between reason and revelation, and he believe the competition for status between the two was at the core of Western civilization’s vitality. But how did Strauss understand these poles? And is there anything distinctively Jewish about his understanding of faith and philosophy?

Princeton Professor Leora Batnitzky is one of the pre-eminent interpreters of Strauss’s thought alive today, and she has distinguished herself by the arguments she makes for how seriously Strauss took Judaism. In this podcast, Tikvah’s Alan Rubenstein sits down with Professor Batnitzky to explore Strauss’s enduring legacy. Using two essays—Milton Himmelfarb’s “On Leo Strauss” and Professor Batnitzky’s entry on Strauss for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy—Rubenstein and Batnitzky discuss the trajectory of Strauss’ career, the nature of his thinking on revelation and the philosophic life, and what his thought ought to mean for his Jewish interpreters.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at Princeton University. Leora Batnitzky is a member of the Tikvah Summer Fellowship faculty. Click here to learn more about the Fellowship and our other summer programs.

Direct download: LBatnitzky_Podcast_12-4-2017.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:25pm EST

America remains one of the most religious countries in the developed world. The United States has no established church; yet, some argue that it is the very absence of an official state religion that has allowed faith to flourish and grow in America. Complementing the flourishing of Judaism and Christianity in the United States is a distinct form of civil religion that permeates American institutions, symbols, and culture.

Upon what sources does this civic faith draw? How should Jews and Christians view and participate in it? And is it strong enough to persist in our increasingly secular age? These are the questions Professor Wilfred M. McClay addresses in his essay “The Soul of a Nation,” published in the Public Interest in the spring of 2004. McClay explores the idea of civil religion, tracing its history from Plato and Rousseau to Massachusetts’s Puritan settlers to President Bush’s freedom agenda. He details its uses and abuses in America and worries about a future where civil religion is missing from public life.

In this podcast, Professor McClay sits down with Jonathan Silver to revisit this essay. They discuss the role of civil religion in the period after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the ways the Hebrew Bible shapes civic religion in the United States, and the dangers of the progressive impulse to shed America’s history and hollow out the nation’s soul. At a time when visceral partisanship is running high, McClay shows us how a renewed civil religion can help bring unity and a sense of shared citizenship to a divided country.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel, and “Further Down the Path” by Big Score Audio.

Direct download: McClay_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:54pm EST

At a time when the State of Israel lives under the threat of jihadist Islam and faces the scorn of Western elites, it continues to find friends among the Evangelical Christians of America. Yet, while Evangelicals have been among the most ardent friends of the Jewish people and Jewish state, significant numbers of Jews view their friendship with suspicion. Not only that, but Evangelical attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians could be changing.

In 2013, Robert Nicholson analyzed the state of Evangelical Zionism in “Evangelicals and Israel,” published in Mosaic. Nicholson acknowledged that Jewish suspicion of Christian goodwill is rooted in memories of historical persecution. But he argues that, those memories notwithstanding, it is a strategic error for the Jewish community to reject this goodwill. In the piece, Nicholson argues that Evangelical support of Israel cannot be taken for granted and makes the case that only greater engagement between Jews and Christians can preserve, heal, and strengthen the promising relationship between Jewish and Christian Zionists.

In this podcast, Nicholson joins Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen to revisit his landmark Mosaic essay. He explains the divisions within Evangelical Protestantism about the State of Israel, the reasons for Jewish skepticism of Christian support, and the work of his own Philos Project in strengthening Christians’ connection to Israel. The theological debates of Evangelical Christians mean a great deal to the future of the Jews and their state, and friends of Israel from every background need to understand them.

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 “Baruch Habah,” performed by the choir of Congregation Shearith Israel, and “Further Down the Path” by Big Score Audio.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Direct download: Nicholson_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:29am EST

Anti-Semitism has, regrettably, been with us for millennia. But its nature and character, its intellectual foundations, its accusations against the Jews have all undergone a process of evolution. In medieval Christendom, Jews were condemned as unsaved, guilty of the crime of deicide. In the Europe of the Enlightenment, Jew-hatred took on a more secular character, grounding itself in the racial pseudo-science of the age. Today, anti-Semitism has tied itself to hatred of the State of Israel and flourishes within the reactionary world of radical Islam and its western apologists.

In 2013, Hebrew University’s Robert Wistrich explored these changing faces of anti-Semitism in the pages Commentary magazine. His piece traces this pernicious hatred through history, highlighting the strikingly similar tropes that recur among anti-Semites from Nazi Europe to the contemporary Muslim world.

In this podcast, Dr. Charles Asher Small of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy joins Jonathan Silver to discuss Wistrich’s article and its relevance today. They explore how Jew-hatred’s justifications have shifted from the religious to the scientific to the national and discuss why modern intellectuals in America and Europe seem persistently to misunderstand the true nature of anti-Semitism’s threat. In an environment where hostility to Jews and the Jewish state has a home on both the Left and Right, Silver and Small make the case that anti-Semitism is not just a problem for Jews; for the forces of reaction and bigotry that target the Jewish people today will inevitably target others tomorrow.

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: Charles_Small_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:08am EST

Are we living at the end of modernity? Is the liberation of the individual that has characterized the modern age giving way to identity politics, ethno-nationalism, and other forces that call into question liberalism’s optimism about the individual?

According to the late Professor Peter Lawler, it is this realization of individualism’s limits that characterizes our “postmodern” age. His “Conservative Postmodernism, Postmodern Conservatism,” published in the 2008 in the Intercollegiate Review, puts forward a conservative, postmodern vision that stands in stark contrast to the relativistic and liberationist philosophy that typically travels under the postmodern banner.

In this podcast, the Tikvah Fund’s Alan Rubenstein—a former colleague of Lawler’s—sits down with Professor Daniel Mark to discuss Lawler’s innovative essay. They explore the virtues and vices of individualism, Lawler’s critiques of our individualistic age, and whether Judaism can shed light on his arguments and the struggles of our postmodern era.

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.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the University of Chicago. Daniel Mark is a member of the Tikvah Fund’s high school summer program faculty. Click here to learn more about our programs.

Direct download: Daniel_Mark_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:55pm EST

“Murderers with the power to murder descended upon a defenseless people and murdered a large part of it. What else is there to say?”

So wrote Norman Podhoretz in his scathing 1963 essay on Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Arendt, a German Jewish refugee and the world’s foremost theorist of totalitarianism, had travelled to Israel to witness the historic trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. But rather than writing a fair-minded report on the Jewish people’s first opportunity in millennia to try one of their oppressors, Arendt used the occasion to offer her own theory of Eichmann’s character, Jews’ complicity in their own slaughter, and what she called the “banality of evil.”

Arendt’s coverage of the trial sent shockwaves through the coterie of New York Jewish intellectuals of which she had been an admired member. Writing in Commentary magazine, Podhoretz showed himself to be among her harshest critics. His essay is a clarion call for moral clarity that seeks to expose how Arendt’s brilliance distorts her ability to see Nazis for what they were and evil for what it is.

In this podcast, Tikvah Distinguished Senior Fellow Ruth Wisse joins Eric Cohen to discuss Eichmann’s trial, Arendt’s theory of it, and Podhoretz’s piercing critique. They discuss what motivated Arendt to write as she did and analyze why this moment proved to be so momentous in the intellectual evolution of many American Jewish thinkers. Wisse and Cohen show that while the Eichmann trial may be behind us, the perversity of brilliance against which Podhoretz inveighed is still very much alive 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.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Direct download: Ruth_Wisse_Arendt_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:29pm EST

Death is an uncomfortable topic. It has deprived us of people we love, and we know that, ultimately, it is the one fate that awaits us all. But Jewish ritual and Jewish tradition embody a set of ideas about life, death, love, and mourning that help us confront our mortality with equanimity. For all the sorrow we feel with the loss of a beloved friend or family member, death holds lessons for life.

In the Jewish community, few confront the realities of death more directly, and more frequently, than the members of the hevra kadisha—the volunteer society that prepares the bodies of the deceased for burial. Judaism views this this ritual preparation as holy work, an act true kindness that can never be repaid.

In this podcast, Daniel Troy joins Jonathan Silver for a conversation about his time serving on his community’s hevra kadisha. Using Troy’s 1992 Commentary essay, “The Burial Society,” as their roadmap, Silver and Troy have a searching discussion about life, death, and honoring the truth of Genesis that all men and women are created in the image and likeness of God. As they explore the exacting rituals governing the preparation of the departed, Troy and Silver help us gain a greater appreciation of how confronting the realities of death can help us learn how best to live our lives.

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: Dan_Troy_Burial_Society_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:13am EST

Anti-Semitism knows no party. Throughout modern history, it has manifested in different forms, in different countries, across the political spectrum. In the years following the Second World War, antipathy to Jews and the Jewish State was found in the nascent conservative movement in the United States. It had a home there, that is, until William F. Buckley Jr. entered the scene. In his pivotal role as doyen of the American Right, Buckley ensured that anti-Semites had no place in the pages of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review.

But as the Cold War came to an end, right-wing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism reappeared. As the writings and statements of men like Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran became ever more hostile to Jews and Israel, Buckley again stepped into the breach. In a special issue of National Review, and then in a fuller and annotated book, Buckley set out In Search of Anti-Semitism. Though it pained him to accuse his longtime friends and allies, Buckley ultimately concluded that men like Sobran could not be defended from the charge of an anti-Semitism that ought to have no place on the Right.

In this podcast, Matthew Continetti, editor of the Washington Free Beacon and scholar of modern American conservatism, joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss Buckley’s book. Continetti lays out the history of anti-Semitism in American conservatism as well as Buckley’s role in driving it to the fringes of the movement. Silver and Continetti also examine the definition of anti-Semitism, what distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and the place of anti-Semitism in today’s fractured conservative politics. 

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: Continetti_Buckley_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:58am EST

From the breakdown of family and faith to rising political partisanship, the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and an emboldened secular dogmatism defining the parameters of the public square, the cultural practices that have for generations nourished the modern West have grown wan and frail. Can they be energized? And what role can the Jewish people play in renewing the vitality on Western civilization?

In October of 2013, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, then the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain, delivered a lecture entitled “On Creative Minorities,” in which he argued that as history’s paradigmatic religious minority, the Jews have much to teach people of faith in our increasingly secular world. Judaism’s wisdom, according to Rabbi Sacks, can be vital in planting the seeds that will lead to a renewal of the West.

In 2014, the lecture was published in First Things, and in this podcast, Rabbi Sacks joins Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen to revisit this important essay. They explore the distinctive Jewish response to crisis, the promise and peril of religious isolationism, and the ways traditional Jews can help renew the broader culture of which they are a part. Their conversation makes clear that, though the state of the modern West presents many causes for worry, the teachings of the Jewish tradition provides an enduring source of hope.

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: Sacks_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:42am EST

We like to think that, amidst all of the pressures of decision, ideas can somehow inspire political action. But how do the arguments of intellectuals actually influence the strategy and implementation of government? In this podcast, foreign policy expert and White House veteran Elliott Abrams joins Jonathan Silver to discuss an essay that did just that.

In November of 1979, American foreign policy was adrift. The Soviet Union was expanding its influence throughout the world, the Shah had fled Iran, and the United States appeared to be losing the Cold War. All the while, President Jimmy Carter’s administration was intent on pursuing a “human rights” policy that went easy on America’s enemies, alienated its allies, and turned a blind eye to those suffering from the worst humanitarian abuses.

It was in this environment that Jeane Kirkpatrick, then a professor at Georgetown University, published her groundbreaking essay, “Dictatorships and Double Standards” in Commentary. In it, she calls out the hypocrisy of the President Carter’s human rights agenda and blasts America’s “posture of continuous self-abasement and apology vis-à-vis the Third World” as both politically and morally bankrupt. Abrams helps us see what made Kirkpatrick’s argument so important to the history of the Reagan Administration and the Cold War and highlights what her influential essay still has to teach us 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: Abrams_DD_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:51am EST

Has support for Israel become a partisan issue in the United States? What role can a commitment to Jewish culture play in ensuring the Jewish future? And how does an observant Jew say grace?

These are just some of the questions Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen discusses with Jay Lefkowitz in this unique podcast. Lefkowitz is veteran of the administrations of George H.W. and George W. Bush as well as a keen analyst of American politics and the American Jewish community. In this conversation, Lefkowitz discusses some of the most memorable moments from his long career in public service and brings his wealth of experience and knowledge to bear on some of the most important issues facing the Jewish people today.

This conversation was originally recorded as part of the Tikvah Summer Fellowship Callings and Careers seminar series.

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: Jay_Lefkowitz_CC_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:49pm EST

Civil war in Syria, the rise of Islamic State, a strengthened Iran—these are a part of the Obama Administration’s Middle East legacy. Elected with a mandate to begin “nation-building at home,” President Obama was content to see Iran and Russia fill the vacuum created by American retrenchment and become leading players in the region. How can the Trump Administration avoid the mistakes of the last decade and strengthen America’s strategic posture?

In “What America Should Do Next in the Middle East,” published in Mosaic in September 2017, two of America’s leading foreign policy experts seek to chart a course for American policy. Michael Doran and Peter Rough argue that if America is to protect its vital interests, it must have a clear and coherent plan to advance its strategic goals on multiple fronts, all the while being wary of the wishful thinking that has led past administrations to failure.

In this podcast, Michael Doran joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the essay and the deeper issues it raises. In their wide-ranging conversation, Doran and Silver explore the thinking behind the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy, the errors the Trump Administration must seek to avoid, and the various motivations of the region’s key players. Though Doran makes clear that there are no easy answers, he helps us think through how American policymakers can begin the process of charting a new course the United States in the Middle East.

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: Doran_Podcast_FI_2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:34am EST

On September 5, 2007, just before midnight, four F-15s and four F-16s took off from Israeli Air Force (IAF) bases and flew toward Syria. An hour later, in the early hours of September 6, the IAF dropped 17 tons of explosives on a nuclear reactor in the desert of Al Kibar, neutralizing a threat that endangered the Jewish state and the stability of the entire region.

The series of events that resulted in the discovery and bombing of Syria’s secret nuclear reactor make up a remarkable story—one told in riveting detail in two articles by two of America’s leading Middle East experts. “The Silent Strike” by David Makovsky and “Bombing the Syrian Reactor: The Untold Story” by Elliott Abrams take us behind the scenes of the Israeli and American governments, describing the deliberations, disagreements, and decisions that led to Israel’s airstrike. In this podcast, Gabriel Scheinmann of the Alexander Hamilton Society joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver for a discussion of these pieces and of “Operation Orchard,” the mission in which, in one of the signal achievements of Zionist history, the State of Israel bucked the United States in order to take responsibility for the security of its citizens and the welfare of the Middle East. 

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: Scheinmann_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:35pm EST

“The proper method for the study of politics,” said the late political scientist Walter Berns, “is biography.” And while analysis and disquisition can impart wisdom about politics and much else, living examples can also provide unique insight into what is required of us as human beings, as Jews, and as responsible citizens.

In this special podcast, Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver is joined by Elliott Abrams, one of the American Jewish community’s most accomplished public servants. A prolific author, Abrams is a veteran of the Reagan and George W. Bush Administrations and is currently Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The two discuss Abrams’s outstanding career in the public arena, reflecting on his move from the Democratic to Republican Party, his contributions to conservative thinking on human rights, and his experiences working on Israel-related issues during the Bush presidency. Their entertaining and enlightening conversation helps us more clearly see what an active and patriotic Jewish community can contribute to America, Israel, and world.

This conversation was originally recorded live as part of the Tikvah Summer Fellowship Callings and Careers seminar series.

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: Elliott_Abrams_CC_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:41am EST

America is in the throes of an addiction crisis. The ravages of the opioid epidemic can be seen across the country, as it claims ever more lives. And there are other addictions—less severe, but no less real—to video games, smartphones, pornography. What can be done to assist those struggling with addiction? Are the tools of medicine and social science sufficient remedies? Or, necessary as science is, must we also tap into the spiritual resources of religion to help those on the journey down the road to recovery?

In “God, Religion, and America’s Addiction Crisis,” published in Mosaic Magazine, Jeffrey Bloom explores how Judaism’s ancient wisdom can address the underlying spiritual ills at the root of substance abuse and related pathologies. In this podcast, Bloom joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay. They examine what medical and behavioral remedies can and cannot offer recovering addicts and explore the soul-sickness at the heart of addiction. In doing so, they help illustrate how the struggles of the addict reflect the human condition writ large.

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: Bloom_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:48am EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

“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:Event -- posted at: 6:04pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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.


Religious liberty is on trial in America, both in legislative debates at the state and federal level and in court cases now working their way through the judicial system. As the environment for religious traditionalists becomes more hostile, observant Jews will increasingly confront some difficult questions: Will American society continue to respect the religious freedom of traditional communities? Will the moral teachings and ritual practices of Orthodox schools and synagogues get restricted, and will leaders of these institutions be kept out of the public square? What can Jewish leaders and activists do to help protect and preserve religious freedom in America—not only for Jews, but for all Americans?

In order to help us think through these issues, Tikvah invited two of the nation’s foremost experts on religious liberty to the Tikvah Center in New York City as part of our lecture series on “Torah Jews and America.” The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson helped provide a general overview of the religious freedom issue in America today, and Professor Daniel Mark of Villanova University, and the Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom explored the unique challenges that increasingly face by the Orthodox Jewish community.

This event took place on June 12, 2017.

Direct download: Religious_Freedom_in_America_audio.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 12:15pm EST

Why don’t Jews like the Christians who like them? That’s the question James Q. Wilson, one of the America’s most influential political scientists, posed in the pages of City Journal in 2008. Evangelical Christians are, by and large, enthusiastic supporters of Israel, and their goodwill extends beyond sympathy for the Jewish state. American Evangelicals even harbor affection for the Jewish people themselves. Yet, these positive attitudes go largely unreciprocated by the American Jewish community, which continues to view conservative Christians with suspicion.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver sits down with Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin, a chaplain with the New Jersey Army National Guard and a Resident Fellow at the Tikvah Fund to discuss Wilson’s essay. Silver and Rocklin explore the theological and sociological reasons behind Evangelical support for Israel as well as the nature of the historical memory that keeps many Jews wary of this Christian support. The two also touch on the hostility of mainline Christian churches toward Israel, American Jews’ habit of viewing enemies as allies, and the future of American Jewish politics.

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: Rocklin_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:25am EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

As Jews, as Americans, as thoughtful citizens and friends of the decent order of the West, we face great challenges to our security. Those challenges are posed by authoritarian and expansionist powers like China and Russia, by dangerous states like Iran and North Korea, by radical Islamist movements like ISIS, and by new dangers like cyberwarfare and the weaponization of space. To help us think a little more clearly about the strategy of American security and the political order it helps to underwrite, Tikvah Fund Executive Director Eric Cohen hosted Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Professor Eliot Cohen at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Drawing on his new book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, Professor Cohen argued that America’s global military presence is essential for American foreign policy. Their conversation touches upon the American conception of war, the state of American forces, American force projection, the operations and scope of the American government, and the tactics and aims of America’s rivals. Professor Cohen also assesses Israel’s current strategic position, and offers his thoughts on Israel’s national security imperatives.

This conversation took place on March 6, 2017.

Direct download: Eliot_Cohen_audio.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 10:32am EST

Lamenting the ideological polarization in American public life has become a feature of modern politics. But perhaps what ails America is less what divides the Left and Right than the errors they share. In “Taking the Long Way,” published in First Things in 2014, political thinker Yuval Levin argues that liberals and conservatives are both inspired by an overly individualistic understanding of the human person and a weak vision of political freedom. For all the apparent differences between our parties, Levin believes we must attend to the tacit assumptions that serve as the philosophical foundation for both of them. Levin turns to the Book of Exodus in order to help him explain a more enduring liberation consistent with a truer understanding of the human condition. This more enduring freedom does not spring fully formed into the hearts and minds of spontaneously ordered libertarians or exquisitely managed progressives. Political freedom is an achievement that lies at the end of a long road, best traveled in the company of friends, neighbors, and family.

In this podcast, Levin joins Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver to discuss this important essay. They begin by discussing what both the Left and Right get wrong about freedom. Then, using Exodus to guide their conversation, Levin and Silver discuss the stations on the long road to liberty, the potential pitfalls along this path, and what traditional Jews can teach their fellow citizens about creating the cultural preconditions that sustain the free society.

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: Yuval_Podcast_Round_2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:54pm EST

It may be the world’s oldest hatred, but anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the 21st century. The forces of anti-Zionism and mass immigration continually threaten the safety of Europe’s Jews. Anti-Semitism remains the norm in most of the Arab world. And even in the United States, hate crimes against Jewish Americans continue to occur at an alarming rate. The intractability of this bigotry invites asking fundamental questions: Who is the anti-Semite? What is the nature of his hatred? Will he always be with us?

In Anti-Semite and Jew, the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte offers his reflections on these very questions. Written shortly after the liberation of Paris from German occupation, the essay sketches Sartre’s portraits of the anti-Semite, the democrat, and the Jew. In this podcast, former Harvard Professor and Tikvah Distinguished Senior Fellow Ruth Wisse joins Eric Cohen to discuss this fascinating work. Wisse lays out the key characteristics of Sartre’s archetypes, critiques the essay’s flaws, and highlights the insights that remain valuable to us even today. Anti-Semitism, sadly, is not going away, and getting a clearer picture of this particular prejudice is as important 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.

Direct download: Ruth_Wisse_Anti-Semitism_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:57pm EST

When New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven, the exhibit was greeted with tremendous fanfare. It dazzled the eyes and summoned a seductive image of medieval Jerusalem as an exciting hub of diverse cultures and religions. But is this picture of the Holy City true to history? Or was the Met trafficking in myths that anchor multicultural hopes for Jerusalem’s future in a fictitious past? Did the Met help its visitors see Jerusalem as it was, or as the exhibit’s architects wish it to be?

In “Jerusalem Syndrome at the Met,” published in Mosaic soon after the close of the exhibit, Wall Street Journal Critic at Large Edward Rothstein debunks Jerusalem 1000-1400’s fictions. He shows that the exhibit’s sumptuous beauty was actually founded on historically tendentious apologetics.

In this podcast, Rothstein joins Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen to discuss his piece. Rothstein discusses how the exhibit distorts Jerusalem’s complex history, whitewashes the violence and intolerance of the city’s Muslim conquerors, and downplays the Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest city. In doing so, he illustrates how the Met exemplifies the some of the most troubling trends afflicting museums in the West.

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: Rothstein_Podcast_v.2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:42am EST

Irving Kristol was truly one-of-a-kind. He had a capacious mind and a winsome personality, and his journey from young Trotskyist to “godfather” of neoconservatism has long captivated those who have written about his remarkable career. Yet, for all the ink spilled on Irving Kristol the man, Irving Kristol the political thinker has often been neglected.

Matthew Continetti, editor of the Washington Free Beacon, believes it is long past time to devote more attention to Irving Kristol’s political thought. In his 2014 essay in National Affairs, “The Theological Politics of Irving Kristol,” Continetti subjects more than 50 years of Kristol’s writings to close reading. In doing so, Continetti draws out the theological foundations that underpinned so much of Kristol’s thinking on politics and society.

In this podcast, Continetti and Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver discuss Irving Kristol’s “neo-orthodox” theology, his distinction between the rabbinic and prophetic tendencies, and the Jewish foundations of his political disposition. In doing so, they draw out the deeper meaning of Kristol’s thought and sketch out the ways his wisdom can shed light on our current political moment.

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: Continetti_Keiper_Snyder.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:05pm EST

Israel is an exceptional nation, and this is certainly true when it comes to the Israeli military. Tested by war, heroic in its self-defense, Israel is leading the way in developing the most advanced weapons technologies and re-imagining the new realities of the modern battlefield in an ever-changing Middle East. In an important new book—The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower— Jerusalem Post Editor Yaakov Katz tells this story from the front lines of Israeli military innovation and with the analytical eye of a master journalist. He brings us into the fascinating world of Israeli weapons development—from drones to satellites, missile defense systems to cyber warfare—and he looks beyond the technology to consider what Israel’s edge means for its larger geopolitical strategy.

On February 6, 2017, Mr. Katz joined an exclusive audience at the Tikvah Fund for a fascinating exploration of how Israel became a military superpower, and what this means for the future of the Jewish state. He also discussed some of the major developments in current Israeli politics and world affairs, offering his insight as one of Israel’s veteran journalists and keenest analysts.

Direct download: Yaakov_Katz_audio.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 5:09pm EST

In 2010, the theologian Michael Wyschograd published “A King in Israel,” a provocative essay in which he argues for defining the Jewish State as a democratic, constitutional monarchy. Wyschograd proposes that, without changing anything about the functioning of the Israeli government, the president of the state be given the title, “Regent of the Throne of David”—reconstituting the third Jewish commonwealth as a Davidic monarchy without a reigning king.

This idea may seem fantastical, and it was given very little attention at the time. But in this podcast, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik joins Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen to explore the theology behind Wyschograd’s argument, precedents from modern constitutional history, and the political ramifications of monarchy. Using Soloveichik’s essay on “King David” as a starting point, Cohen and Soloveichik explore Judaism’s complex approach to kingship, the meaning of the Davidic dynasty, and the spiritual power that resides in a properly constituted Jewish polity.

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: Soloveichik_King_David_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:56pm EST

Sometimes, it takes an outsider to teach a community about its own deepest truths and most powerful teachings. In “Faith in the Flesh,” one of America’s most insightful Catholic thinkers does just that for faithful Jews. In this breathtaking piece, published in Commentary a decade ago, R.R. Reno offers a profound meditation on the meaning of Jewish ritual, education, and distinctiveness. Framed by a scene of his daughter chanting the Ten Commandments on the day of her bat mitzvah, the essay tells the story of Reno’s Jewish family and the impact it had on his own Christian faith.

In this podcast, Reno speaks with Tikvah Fund Senior Director Jonathan Silver about his essay. Reno recounts how he came to raise his children as Jews while remaining committed to, and even deepening, his Christian faith. He and Silver go on to cover the contrasting ways Judaism and Christianity seek to inspire moral behavior as well as the tradeoffs of each approach. They touch on the political and social implications of each faith’s teachings and conclude by discussing the lessons both Jews and Christians ought to take away from Reno’s experience with the blows of intermarriage.

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: RR_Reno_Podcast_FI_2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:29am EST

In this podcast Jonathan Silver speaks with the Hudson Institute’s Arthur Herman about his November 2016 Mosaic essay, which bucks conventional wisdom with the thesis that much of the world is warming to and developing closer ties with the Jewish State. Despite the impression one might get by observing the attitudes of Western governments toward Israel, this warming phenomenon can be observed from Asia to Africa to parts of Eastern Europe and, perhaps most surprisingly, to the Middle East. The reasons behind these developments are several, ranging from economic and national security interests to an affinity and admiration for Israel’s pluralistic and entrepreneurial society. From Israel’s developing international relations, Herman sees important lessons for the Israel- and Middle East-policy of a new American administration.

Direct download: Arthur_Herman_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EST

In this podcast Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver speaks with the Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz about what a proper liberal arts education consists of, its betrayal in the American academy, and its complicated relation to Jewish education and religious life. Their conversation is framed by Berkowitz’s 2006 Policy Review article, “Liberal Education: Then and Now.” Elaborating the thought of John Stuart Mill, Berkowitz explains that a liberal arts education does not teach students what to think, but rather pushes them to understand arguments from all sides. It comprises study of the sciences and humanities, roots students more deeply in their own civilizational traditions, and acquaints students with traditions outside of their own culture. But for religious Jews, does an education in intellectual freedom support or undermine the life of commandment and obligation? Should religious Jews, in America, Israel, and elsewhere seek out a liberal education? And what is the role for a liberal education in the Jewish state?

Direct download: Berkowitz_Podcast_Nov_2016_E.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:37pm EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39am EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EST

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, alumni of Tikvah’s advanced programs and friends of Mosaic came to an intimate discussion between the Israeli philosopher Yoram Hazony and the American author and historian Walter Russell Mead. The subject of their conversation was the same as the title of Yoram Hazony’s essay in Mosaic: “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom.”

Hazony argues that the political battle over the fate of the nation is the most consequential struggle of our time—one whose roots extend all the way back to the struggle between the ancient Israelites and the overweening imperial powers of their day. It was in the Hebrew Bible that the national idea was born, an idea whose enduring virtues would in time profoundly shape the emergence of the modern democratic West. But what is the status of the national idea today, and why do so many in the West oppose it? Can it survive if cut off from its religious origins, or can those origins be recovered in the secular West? What does today’s widespread disparagement of national independence mean for the Jewish state, the state of Israel?

In these three episodes, we hear Yoram Hazony speak about the themes from his Mosaic article, a response from distinguished writer and strategist Walter Russell Mead, and a conversation moderated by Tikvah senior director Jonathan Silver.

Direct download: Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am EST

In this podcast Eric Cohen and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik speak about two artistic geniuses whose works highlight Jews’ humanity, on the one hand, and other-worldliness, on the other. These two sides of the Jewish people—at once part of the human race and God’s chosen people—comprise Jews’ inherently dialectical nature, Soloveichik argues.

Framed by Soloveichik’s recent essay, “Rembrandt’s Great Jewish Painting” (Mosaic, June 2016), the discussion begins with an exploration of the great Dutch painter’s beautiful efforts to depict the humanity of Jews and the Jewishness of biblical scenes. Particular attention is given to Rembrandt’s great painting of Moses receiving the Luchot, which answers and corrects Michaelangelo’s Moses.

In contrast, it is the miraculous nature of the Jewish people, rather than their humanity, that J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings brings out, as Soloveichik argues in “The Secret Jews of the Hobbit” (Commentary, August 2016). Secular and American Jews are uncomfortable with this side of their identity and Soloveichik thinks they can learn something important from the Catholic author’s presentation of the Jewish people as a miraculous people—a trait that remains true today.

The discussion culminates in an exploration of the unique role art can play in understanding and presenting the divine.

Direct download: Meir_Soloveichik_Podcast_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EST

Britain’s June 23 referendum on independence was the most important vote in a democratic nation in a generation, Yoram Hazony argues in “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom,” his September 2016 Mosaic essay. Its outcome, in favor of an exit from the EU, provoked fear, outrage, and despair in elite opinion in both Europe and the United States. At the same time, however, the re-emergence of an independent Britain has rallied profound admiration and enthusiasm among millions of others who still hold fast to the old understanding that the independence and self-determination of one’s nation hold the key to a life of honor and freedom.

In this podcast, Hazony speaks with Eric Cohen about his essay. Their discussion touches on the biblical roots of the nation-state, which combines national self-determination with a moral minimum; liberalism as the great rival of nationalism; and three reactions against the new liberal condition—neo-nationalism, neo-Catholicism, and classical nationalism. It is this latter alternative that Hazony finds most promising, inspired by the Hebrew Bible and informing the nationalism of Great Britain and the United States.


Jewish education is an important source of Jewish continuity in America. This is has been true in all times and places throughout the Jewish diaspora, but it is all the more so in the United States, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. In America, with its individual freedoms, the most potent threat to the Jewish community is not anti-Semitic persecution of old, but assimilation. The threat of assimilation in modern America makes an education in Jewish particularism and Jewish peoplehood especially important, and yet the cost of Jewish education is a growing burden on Jewish families—entailing not only a financial burden, but a moral burden as well.

In this podcast, Eric Cohen speaks with Cato Institute policy analyst Jason Bedrick to delve into this issue and the larger question of what possible role the government might play in alleviating the financial burden to families of parochial school. Their conversation centers around Milton Friedman’s 1955 essay “The Role of Government in Education,” which argues that school vouchers promise both efficiency and freedom for families in the education arena. Bedrick and Cohen discuss the history of parochial schools in America, school choice options like vouchers and tax credits, and what these options mean for the Jewish community. What has the establishment of ostensibly “public” schools meant for the religious freedom of families and communities of faith, and what role might government assume in ensuring the blessings of liberty for all its citizens?


In this podcast, Eric Cohen talks with Judaic Studies and History professor Allan Arkush, an expert in modern Jewish history, about Ahad Ha’am and his classic essay, “The Jewish State and Jewish Problem” (1897). In this essay, Ahad Ha’am—pen name of Asher Ginsberg—expounds on the material and moral crises facing the Jewish people. Modern Jews need an identity authentically derived from Jewish ideas and culture—not one simply formed by outside gentile influences. European nationalism is not sufficient to guide the founding of the Jewish state. Rather, Ha’am hopes that political freedom will enable the creation of a unique and genuine Jewish civilization. In this podcast, Arkush discusses the life and ideas of Ahad Ha’am and his relation to his contemporary Jewish and Zionist thinkers.


In this podcast, Eric Cohen speaks with Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, about three of his essays that assess political life in Israel, America, and that analyze the challenges of the Middle East and the the modern West alike. “Born on the Fourth of June,” a Commentary essay from 2012, concerns the lessons and legacy of the 1967 war and what it means for current political challenges. In “Peter Beinart’s False Prophecy,” published in Tablet in 2012, Stephens reviews Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism, identifying its misleading presentation of the Israeli condition. The final essay was “Israel Alone,” a 2015 Wall Street Journal column in which Stephens examines the dilemmas that Israeli decision-makers now face, given America’s changing role in the Middle East.

Direct download: 160714_Eric_Cohen_and_Bret_Stephens.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:19pm EST

In this podcast, Eric Cohen talks with Jay Lefkowitz about his provocative 2014 essay, "The Rise of Social Orthodoxy: A Personal Account”. The essay caused a stir by describing a subset of American Modern Orthodox Judaism whose participation in Jewish ritual is primarily motivated by social and civilizational attachments to the Jewish people, not out of faith in the God of the Hebrew Bible or reverence for His commandments.

Lefkowitz and Cohen begin by surveying the denominations of American Judaism and their relative vitality. Focusing on the Orthodox, they consider which approaches to Jewish life—Haredi, classically Modern Orthodox, Socially Orthodox—are likely to endure and, should they endure, which approaches are likely to elevate the moral lives of their adherents. Which is a firmer ground for Jewish continuity—belonging or belief?  What is gained and what is lost when membership is the overarching value of Jewish life?


In this podcast, Eric Cohen sits down with the legendary editor of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, to discuss his 2007 essay, “Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity.” The ancient capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem, has been the essential center of Jewish political and religious life for generations. But, despite promises of its inviolability, the temptations to divide Jerusalem in exchange for peace arise again and again. “In wondering about this singling-out of one city from among all the cities in the Land of Israel,” Podhoretz writes, “I find myself ineluctably led to its larger and even more mysterious context, which is the singling-out of one people from among all the nations of the world.” Eric Cohen talks to Podhoretz about the circumstances that inspired this essay, the feelings that being in Jerusalem stirs in him, the moral and political significance of Jerusalem, what it means to be the chosen people, and why modern men and women find Jewish particularity such a scandal.


As recently as the Cold War, the center-right and the center-left overcame their differences on other issues to oppose the enemies of the open society. In a lecture to alumni and guests of the Tikvah Fund, Standpoint editor Daniel Johnson argues that the center is failing to hold and that illiberalism's many forms are on the rise. Both right and left have been submerged under populist spasms. The right lured in by the coarse, idea-free spectacle of Donald Trump; the left embracing the Western self-loathing typified by Jeremy Corbyn. Radical Islam, the European migrant crisis, and the rise of Putin's Russia all threaten the West. Are conservatives up to the task? And what is the role of the Jews in all this? Johnson argues that Israel is uniquely central to the fate of the West, both as the frontier of its fights and as a symbol of what the West still stands for—or what, to its shame, it may yet abandon.

William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard offers some thoughts on Johnson's lecture at its conclusion. Then the two take questions. The discussion was filmed in Jerusalem on June 2, 2016.

Direct download: The20Left2C20the20Right2C20and20the20Future20of20the20West.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 5:37pm EST

In this podcast, Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and prominent scholar and commentator on Middle Eastern affairs and world politics, talks with Tikvah's Eric Cohen about a classic essay excoriating Western elites for misunderstanding the passions that drive the Middle East. Elie Kedourie's 1970 manifesto, "The Chatham House Version," examined the confusions of Arnold Toynbee and other British mandarins: confusions over pan-Arabism, over the links between the Israeli-Arab conflict and other situations of unrest, over the role of the West in Arab discontent, and much else. The political, religious, and ideological fault lines of the Middle East often go back at least a century, so it is a mistake for Westerners to explain the Middle East in the categories of Western social arrangements. Kedourie is not as widely read as he should be, but his influence on leading scholars like Michael Doran is profound. One modest hope of this podcast is that the discussion might awaken listeners to his immense body of work.


In this podcast, the Tikvah Fund’s Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ruth Wisse, joins Eric Cohen to discuss her 2015 Mosaic essay, “Anti-Semitism Goes to School.” Drawing on her experiences at Harvard University and elsewhere, Wisse argues that there has been a resurgence of anti-Semitism on campus, often centered on attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state and assail what Israel represents. Despite ideological pressure on campus to stifle bigotry, Jews are the “one licensed exception … the only campus minority against whom hostility is condoned.” Wisse and Cohen examine what the new campus anti-Semitism means for American Jews, the future of the America-Israel relationship, and the choices that face pro-Israel young people attending American colleges.


Realist foreign policy is premised on the idea that states always act in their own interest, as defined by the rational calculation of external threats from rival states. To scholars and practitioners of the realist school, America’s support for Israel is irrational, for in the support of the Jewish State realists see no benefit to American interest. Some have concluded that a small and influential political lobby is to blame for America’s support for Israel. In this recording, Walter Russell Mead revisits his 2008 essay “The New Israel and the Old,” which argued that America is pro-Israel because Americans—particularly non-Jewish Americans in the heartland—are pro-Israel.

As a part of Tikvah’s advanced institute, “Is Israel Alone?: The Past, Present, and Future of the U.S.-Israel Relationship” Walter Russell Mead and Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Doran examine the false assumptions of so-called realists and explore the popular convictions that are the true foundation of America’s historic support for Israel.

Direct download: Walter_Russell_Mead_-_The_New_Israel_and_the_Old.mp3
Category:Event -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

The subject of this podcast is Joseph B. Soloveitchik's classic 1964 essay, "Confrontation," one of those rare, enduring masterpieces that is both a profound theological reflection on human nature, and an important work of Jewish communal policy. This essay—and the commentaries, conversations, and commitments that have followed in its wake—has long shaped how many traditional Jews engage in the public life of modern society, and how Orthodox Jews see their relationship to modern Christians (and other communities of faith). Rabbi Meir Soloveichik joins Eric Cohen to discuss "Confrontation," its depiction of human nature and its argument for religious freedom in modern America.


In this podcast, Yuval Levin and Eric Cohen discuss Mr. Levin’s recent essay in First Things, “The Perils of Religious Liberty.” The flourishing of religious communities and the freedom of religious conscience have been central to American life since the founding of the United States. Yet we are living in an age that is not especially conducive to traditionally religious habits or beliefs, and the regulations and laws that structure the American social order have made some traditional Jews and Christians feel unwelcome in their own country.

In this essay and in his recent book, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism, Mr. Levin warns that religious exercise must be defended, but a defensive posture is insufficient. In addition to the legal battles they must wage, religious men and women should proudly affirm the manifest virtues of religious communal life, for themselves and for their neighbors. In this conversation, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Levin argue this contention and explore the American tradition of religious freedom, the new challenges facing religious communities in a more fragmented society, and the question of how Jews in particular should think about these great moral and political questions.


In this podcast, Tikvah’s executive director, Eric Cohen, is joined by Elliott Abrams for a discussion of Abrams’s important new essay "If American Jews and Israel Are Drifting Apart, What's the Reason?" Published in the April 2016 issue of Mosaic, examines the conventional wisdom that American Jews are becoming less attached to, less interested in, and even more antagonistic toward the Jewish State. If so, he and Cohen ask, do we understand why, and are we willing to confront the real reasons? What are the new fault lines within American Jewry itself, and what does this mean for the America-Israel relationship more broadly? What does all this mean for Israel, given the tremendous threats it faces in a radicalizing Middle East, and in a political world in which new forms of anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism seem to be on the rise?

Mr. Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; the former Deputy National Security advisor to the president; and the author of important books on the state of American Jewry and the Israel-Palestine question.


As part of the Tikvah Fund and Hertog Foundation’s Advanced Institute, “Is Israel Alone?,”Roger Hertog sat down with syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer to revisit Dr. Krauthammer’s legendary article for the fiftieth anniversary of Israeli independence. Published in The Weekly Standard“At Last, Zion,” described the achievement of Israel’s founders within the full scope of Jewish history, arguing that the Jews had traded the vulnerabilities of Diaspora life—assimilation and discrimination—for new vulnerabilities, namely that the security threats arrayed against the new nation state risked a new kind of extermination. Though much has changed in the nearly two decades since Dr. Krauthammer’s essay, Israel still faces extraordinary security risks. Its demise would constitute the greatest tragedy yet in Jewish history.

In this conversation, Dr. Krauthammer surveys Israel’s many threats, from Iran’s nuclear program to the European embrace of BDS. With his characteristic wit, Dr. Krauthammer analyzes the strategic choices for the United States, Israel, and the American Jewish community. In particular, Dr. Krauthammer devotes much of the discussion to the unique forces in the politics of American Judaism: Jewish leftism, pro-Israel evangelicals, charges of dual loyalty, intermarriage, and the like. The discussion ends on a theological note, as Dr. Krauthammer reflects on the moral obligations of Zionism and on his own theology of trembling doubt.

The conversation was recorded before a small group of Americans and Israelis on December 18, 2015.

Direct download: Charles_Krauthammer_-_At_Last_Zion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm EST

The election of 2016 has few if any precedents in American history. After the transformational presidency of Barack Obama, much is at stake. Hillary Clinton could solidify and build upon his achievements. A Republican candidate could chart a new course. But each party is witnessing a populist insurgency that threatens to reshape American politics. In Jerusalem, Weekly Standardeditor William Kristol surveyed the scene. What is beneath all this turmoil? What does it mean for American democracy? What will it mean for Israel?

The event was recorded on January 14, 2016.

Direct download: William_Kristol_-_American_Democracy_Today.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

During last month’s Advanced Institute in Jerusalem, “God, Politics, and the Future of Europe,” Tikvah hosted a conversation on “Modernity, Religion, and Morality” to discuss the decline of Western Civilization and to probe some of the reasons behind it. What happens when faith in the God of the Bible deteriorates? How does that affect faith in reason and are the values of liberalism enough to sustain a society?

The panel featured prominent intellectuals, George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Yoram Hazony, President of the Herzl Institute. The evening’s discussion was moderated by Daniel Johnson, founder and editor of Standpoint Magazine.

Direct download: George_Weigel_and_Yoram_Hazony_-_-Modernity_Religion_and_Morality-.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:12pm EST