The Tikvah Podcast

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

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