The Tikvah Podcast

Understanding the soul of a nation requires more than understanding the way it orders its laws and governing institutions. True understanding demands that we also look at a people’s culture—its art, its theater, and its music.

In this podcast, we are joined by the author, intellectual, and Hartman Institute fellow Yossi Klein Halevi to explore the transformation of Israel music throughout the history of the Jewish state. We will look at the music that characterized Israel’s early years—music that emerged out of the Ashkenazi, socialist, kibbutz ethos of the Labor Zionist governing elite. We’ll see how, over time, Israeli music came to draw on its diasporic history, especially that of the Mizrahim—the Jews of North Africa and the Middle East—a shift that mirrors and illuminates broader changes in Israeli society over the past five decades.

 

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 “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_-_YKH_Music_-_Final3.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

Over the past two decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has financed terrorism, civil war, and repression throughout the Middle East—and even in Europe and Latin America—while working to develop nuclear weapons. What can the U.S. do to pressure Iran to stop? And how can it do so without involving American forces in a costly and dangerous military confrontation?

In this episode of the Tikvah Podcast, we are joined by Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). He looks at the future America’s Iran policy, and focuses in particular on one tool in the American arsenal: economic sanctions. Goldberg and our guest host, Tikvah alumna Talia Katz, discuss how the Trump administration’s sanctions build on the foundations laid by previous administrations and how President Trump’s approach differs from that of his predecessor.

For an overview statement of Goldberg’s ideas, you can have a look at his January 24 New York Times essay, “Trump Has an Iran Strategy. This Is It.”

One more note: this podcast was recorded prior to the massive disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world, and especially in Iran. We’ll be releasing another podcast on that subject in the next few weeks.

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 “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

Direct download: Goldberg_Katz_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT

Franklin Delano Roosevelt has long been one of the most admired presidents among American Jews. He led the nation out of the depression and ultimately brought a previously isolationist America into World War II. Together with Churchill and Stalin, he defeated the greatest Jewish enemy of the 20th century—Hitler and the Third Reich that elected him.

And yet questions have always lingered about the president’s conduct. Why would this friend of the Jews close the gates of the country to those fleeing certain death? Why didn’t the Americans bomb the tracks to the concentration camps and disable or destroy the death factories that the Nazis were operating there day and night? Moreover, why was the American Jewish community, so silent in the face of this neglect? Why did they fail to advocate for the Jews of Europe when so much was at stake?

These are the tough questions that historian Rafael Medoff has been thinking and writing about his whole career. In his new book, The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust, he examines the decisions of President Roosevelt and leading American rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and comes to see the American president as an anti-Semite and Rabbi Wise as a tragic sycophant. (You can read Mosaic's review of the book here.) On today’s podcast, he is interviewed by special guest host and Tikvah alumnus Daniel Kane.

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 “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_-_Medoff_Final2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:09am EDT

Since the administration of President Jimmy Carter, nearly every American president has sought to attain the holy grail of diplomacy: a solution to the conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbors. In some ways, the Trump Administration’s new peace initiative, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” is merely another proposal for an American-brokered arrangement, the next plan in a line of many.

But its vision is based on political premises that reveal a fundamentally different understanding of American interests in the region. From its approach to Israeli settlements and the “land for peace” paradigm to the nature of its ambitions and its conception of America’s role, this new plan, whether it proves successful or not, could come to be seen as the beginning of new era in Israeli security and regional order.

In this podcast, Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who participated in the crafting of the Trump Administration’s plan, joins Jonathan Silver to explain the details of the “Peace to Prosperity” vision and why it represents a step forward for U.S. diplomacy 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 "Ulterior" by Swan Production.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah Society members at the Tikvah Center in New York City. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.

Direct download: Kontorovich_Trump_Plan_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:19pm EDT

In the year 2020, we live in the shadow of the sexual revolution. The radical changes in sexual mores and family life that American society experienced in the 1960s and 1970s still reverberate today, having made their impact on everything from popular culture and public education to religious life and the most divisive political controversies.

What caused this massive social revolution? How should Jews think about what it has meant for our own way of life? And what vision of sex, romance, and family can Judaism offer the world?

These are the questions Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits takes up in “A Jewish Sexual Ethics,” first published in 1976 and republished in 2002 as part of the anthology Essential Essays on Judaism. In this episode, Jonathan Silver is joined by Tikvah Fund Senior Director Rabbi Mark Gottlieb for a discussion of this seminal essay. They examine Berkovits’s life and thought, his understanding of the causes of modern confusion about sexuality, and his distinct vision of Jewish sexual ethics.

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 “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_-_Gottlieb_Final4.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

Kendra Espinoza is a low-income single mother from Montana who applied for a tax-credit scholarship program—created by the state legislature in 2015—that would allow her to keep her daughters enrolled in a private Christian school. But soon after implementing the program, the state banned any of the scholarship funds from going to religious schools, thus excluding Espinoza and her family from receiving support.

The ensuing legal battle made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue last month. The case implicates the religion clauses of the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and the notorious “Blaine Amendments” adopted by many states during the heyday of anti-Catholic bigotry in America.

In this episode, Professor Michael Avi Helfand of Pepperdine University joins special guest host and Tikvah Senior Director Harry Ballan for a discussion of this important religious-liberty case. You’ll hear these two brilliant lawyers examine the knotty legal doctrines at issue, how the current’s justices are likely to rule, and why Espinoza should matter to every American citizen.

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 "Ulterior" by Swan Production.

Direct download: Helfand_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:13pm EDT

Since the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza denied the Mosaic authorship of the Torah, traditional Jews have had to contend with serious intellectual challenges to the doctrine of the divine origin of the Scripture. This challenge has only grown stronger in recent years, with many young Jews at elite universities encountering academic biblical criticism, and the growth of online projects like TheTorah.com exposing ever-greater numbers of Orthodox Jews to contemporary scholarship about the historicity of the Bible, the authorship of Scripture, and the Torah’s ancient Near Eastern context.

Are there rational and persuasive responses to the arguments put forth by Bible critics? Can Jews who value tradition and the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible engage with academic scholarship with intellectual integrity? Can those who seek wisdom from the best of Jewish and Western thought craft a coherent worldview? Should traditional Jews retreat from heretical challenges to their faith or engage with the academy on its own terms?

These are just some of the questions Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman tackles in his new book, Ani Maamin: Biblical Criticism, Historical Truth, and the Thirteen Principles of Faith. In this episode, Rabbi Dr. Berman returns to the Tikvah Podcast to discuss why he wrote this book, what the field of academic biblical scholarship looks like from the inside, and how a deeper understanding of the ancient world from which the Torah emerged can enhance our understanding of the Book of Books.

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: Berman_Ani_Maamin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

Born in 1915 to a traditional Jewish family recently arrived from Russia, Saul Bellow was raised in Chicago and soon became “part of a circle of brainy Jewish teenagers who read and debated weighty books and learned much more from each other than from their formal schooling.” Early in life, Bellow decided to become a writer “and worked at it so hard and so successfully that by the time of his death in 2005 he had become America’s most decorated novelist.”

So writes Ruth Wisse in her October 2019 Mosaic essay, “What Saul Bellow Saw.” The piece is far more than a biography of Bellow or a catalogue of his accomplishments. It is a thoughtful reflection on his profound insights about social order, the human condition, the Jew’s place in America, and much more. Unlike a philosopher or social scientist, Bellow offers these reflections in the form of the novel. And in this podcast, Professor Wisse and Jonathan Silver discuss some of those novels and give us a brief but enlightening glimpse into the mind of Saul Bellow—the thinker.

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_Bellow_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:07pm EDT

That the young are less religious than the old is not news. But the alienation of today’s millennials from religious faith may indeed be something new, and far more permanent than many have thought.

That’s one of the ominous implications of a new report published by the American Enterprise Institute, titled, “The Decline of Religion in American Family Life.” The report found that young people often leave faith at an early age and that the proportion of young people involved in regular religious activities and being raised in religious homes is declining.

In this week’s podcast, Jonathan Silver, the incoming editor of Mosaic and the host of the Tikvah Podcast, sits down with one of the report’s co-authors, Daniel Cox, for a discussion of millennials, religion, and family life. Though Cox’s work, and this conversation, do not focus on Jews in particular, his findings about the state of Christianity in the U.S. have deep implications for American Jewry and American Jewish flourishing.

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.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah alumni and Society members in Washington, DC. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.

Direct download: Daniel_Cox_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT

Traditional Jewish communities are countercultural in a great many ways. But in our age of expressive individualism, one of the characteristics that most sets observant Jews apart is their rich communal life. From crowded Shabbat tables to volunteer ambulance and community watch groups to the close-knit communities that form around synagogues and day schools, the life of a committed Jew is usually embedded within a thick network of formative institutions.

Of course, American Jewish life is far from perfect, and Jewish communities must contend with the same forces of radical individualism that have done damage to a wide array of American institutions, from government and the media to schools and civic organizations. This breakdown of public life lies at the heart of what ails contemporary America, argues the political thinker Yuval Levin in his new book, A Time to Build, which not only examines the failures of these institutions but also how we might work to rebuild them.

In this podcast, Dr. Levin joins Jonathan Silver for a discussion of his book—released just this week. They explore why institutions matter, what their collapse means for the country, and what communities of faith can do to contribute to American renewal.

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.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah alumni and Society members in Washington, DC. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.

Direct download: Yuval_Levin_A_Time_to_Build_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:50pm EDT

Israeli politics are a mess. After its second election in six months failed to produce a governing coalition, Israelis are scheduled to head back to the polls for the third time in a single year’s time this coming March. In the Jewish state’s short history, this kind of political crisis is a first, but its seeds may have been planted at the very founding of the state.

Since its very first election, Israel has chosen leaders through a system of proportional representation (PR). At election time, Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates, and seats are then distributed in the 120-member Knesset in proportion to each party’s share of the vote. The system is simple and democratic, but, argues Neil Rogachevsky in a recent article in Tablet, it is also the source of Israel’s chronic political instability and recent electoral chaos.

In this podcast, Rogachevsky joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his piece and make the case for reforming Israel’s electoral system. He explains why PR systems routinely fail to produce political stability, how they reduce lawmakers’ accountability to the public, and why a “first-past-the-post” system would make Israeli politics healthier and more representative.

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 "We Are Your Friends" by Mocha Music.

P.S. Have you taken our podcast survey yet? CLICK HERE to let us know how we can make 2020 the best year yet for the Tikvah Podcast!

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcat_-_Rogachevsky_-_Final2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

When Gertrude Himmelfarb passed away on December 30, 2019, a great Jewish voice was lost. An eminent historian of Victorian Britain, Professor Himmelfarb—or, as she was known to her friends, Bea Kristol—analyzed and defended the moral and political virtues necessary for a healthy democratic society. She was interested in how the Victorians consciously built up England’s moral capital and civic confidence when they were in short supply. And drawing from her meticulous historical research, she brought her conclusions to bear on the United States, arguing that Americans too can accomplish what the Victorians did, if we can only learn from their achievements. She also wrote numerous essays on Jewish topics, and especially on the novelist George Eliot's ideas about Jews and Judaism. 

To discuss the legacy of this great historian and theorist of American remoralization, we are joined on this week’s podcast by Yuval Levin, director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and editor-in-chief of National Affairs.

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 “We Are Your Friends” by Mocha Music.

 

 

CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR PODCAST SURVEY

 

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_-_Yuval_Levin_-_FINAL_V2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:56pm EDT

In 2019, 40 different guests came on the Tikvah Podcast to engage in serious conversations about Jewish ideas, Jewish texts, and Jewish public affairs. This year we covered everything from diplomacy to defense, from Jewish philosophy to Jewish food, from anti-Semitism to Jewish heroism.

On this retrospective episode, you’ll hear highlighted selections from our conversations with Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, Danny Danon, Hudson Institute foreign-policy analyst Michael Doran, Swedish journalist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, author Matti Friedman, philosopher Micah Goodman, professor Jacob Howland, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, commentator Jonah Goldberg, editors Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt and Batya Ungar-Sargon, and Secretary Pompeo’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr.

All of our past episodes are available, for free, at tikvahfund.org. Thanks for listening, and here’s to a bright 2020!

 

CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR 2019 PODCAST SURVEY

Direct download: tikvah_podcast_2019_review_-_final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:54pm EDT

1