The Tikvah Podcast

Not long ago, Conservative Judaism was America’s largest and most vital Jewish denomination. Today, things are different; for many years now, the movement has been losing and not replacing its members. In a recent essay written to mark and reflect upon one year after the passing of his mother, the historian Gil Troy wrote that “philosophically, history vindicated [my mother’s] passionate Zionism but repudiated her pick-and-choose Judaism. My two brothers and I represent a vast historical experiment that mostly flopped: mid-twentieth-century Conservative Judaism.”

This week’s podcast looks at that experiment through the personal, private, and illustrative experiences of Gil Troy and his brother Tevi. Both passionately committed Jewish leaders who were raised in a home devoted to Conservative Judaism, they join Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver to provide an intimate look at their differing journeys out of the movement, and the ways they’ve both tried to confront the questions modernity posed for them that Conservative Judaism just couldn’t answer. 

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: Troy_Brothers_FINAL.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:58pm EST

President Biden has been in office for just over one month, but when it comes to his administration’s relationship with Iran, the honeymoon is already long over. Just in the past few weeks, Iran has launched rockets at American assets in Iraq, refused to allow in-person inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency officials of its nuclear facilities, and extorted sanctions relief from South Korea by taking an oil tanker hostage. Through all these actions, Tehran is trying to determine the Biden administration’s objectives, probe its limits, and assess its political will.

Now it’s up to the new American team to lead a response, and to declare—in its words and actions—to the world, and especially to the Iranians, what the United States wants to do, what it can abide, and what it will not accept. On this week’s podcast, the national-security expert Richard Goldberg joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver to explain the Biden administration’s early moments of decision on Iran and to project what the short and long term consequences of those decisions might be. 

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: Rich_Goldberg_FINAL.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:10pm EST

The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has in the last several decades sucked up more American attention, time, and resources than nearly any other conflict in the world. Presidents, cabinet secretaries, national-security officials, and diplomats have poured themselves into solving the problem. These resources have been expended not only because of how Americans perceived the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s strategic importance to the United States, but perhaps more so because it is a conflict that engages and symbolizes the way Americans see themselves acting in the world.

Despite that huge effort, Americans haven’t succeeded in bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians to any kind of settled arrangement. Furthermore, as the Israeli researcher Shany Mor wrote in this month's essay in Mosaic, American policymakers seem insistent on returning to the same frameworks of analysis and strategy that have failed systematically time and again. Now Mor joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver to explain what’s gone wrong, and to talk about why so many American peace processors think the way they do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

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: Shani_Mor_for_REVIEW.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:44pm EST

In the last week of January 2021, thousands of Israeli aredim protested and rioted in Bnai Brak, a predominantly aredi city located east of Tel Aviv. The rioters were angry at the government’s efforts to enforce a lockdown―not Israel’s first―meant to suppress the coronavirus. Several days later, over 10,000 aredim congregated to mourn the passing of an eminent rabbi, again in violation of the lockdown. For all the frustration that Israel's aredim feel, their refusal to comply with the lockdowns has generated an equal measure of frustration and resentment among non-aredi Israelis. 

aredim make up a significant part of Israel, and the coronavirus has brought long-simmering tensions between them and the rest of the Israeli public to a boiling point. This week, Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver speaks with the rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, a aredi leader and the editor of the ḥaredi publication Tzarich Iyun, to explore how his community might repair their relations with their fellow Israelis. In a recent essay, one discussed here, Pfeffer offers a framework for good citizenship, rooted in traditional religious sources, which he hopes can serve as the foundation for a renewed ḥaredi civic virtue.

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_FINAL.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:28pm EST

Three times a day in prayer and each week on the Sabbath, Jews sustain and renew their special covenant with God. While no other nation has the same covenant as the Jews do, the idea of covenant―that a group of people can band together in obligation under God’s sovereignty―has inspired many other nations. From its earliest history, the people of America understood that they relied on divine Providence, and developed a civic culture that made it, as G.K. Chesterton famously put it, “a nation with the soul of a church.” Covenant, in other words, has always been at the heart of America’s national self-understanding. 

It is the recovery of this Jewish idea, argue the Christian leaders Gerald McDermott and Derryck Green, that can help heal America’s racial divide. In a new book, McDermott, Green, and other contributors suggest that a return to America’s founding notion of covenant can help bring about racial reconciliation. Now, in conversation with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver, McDermott and Green explore the idea of national covenant, how it has resonated throughout American history, and how it can help Americans once again see each other as equally made in the image of God. 

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: McDermott_Green_FINAL_INTRO.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:00pm EST

For much of its history, the Jewish people hasn’t had a state. The Israel described in the Hebrew Bible had emissaries and military power, and the modern state of Israel has a foreign ministry and an advanced military, yet there’s nearly 2,000 years of stateless history in between. Throughout that time, however, Jewish diplomacy has been constant. Even without a state, the Jewish people has integrated, separated, argued, and made amends with the other nations of the world. And, as a new book shows, there’s much to be learned from that long experience today, in the state of Israel and out.

On this week’s podcast, Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver speaks with Emmanuel Navon, the author of The Star and the Scepter: A Diplomatic History of Israel. Navon puts Israel's diplomatic history in the context of the entire history of the Jews, beginning with the Hebrew Bible. In doing so, he and Silver try to dig up some eternal truths about the nature of the Jewish people.  

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: Navon-Podcast-Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:43pm EST

Very few contemporary public figures have had as many successes in as many fields as Michael Oren. A writer-statesman in the model of Thucydides, Oren was Israel’s ambassador to the United States during the Obama years, and was before that a historian of the Jewish state, the author of perhaps the best single book on the Six-Day War. He’s also worked in think tanks, been a professor at Ivy League institutions, and served as an MK in the Israeli parliament. Now, with the recent publication of The Night Archera collection of short stories, Oren returns to the genre of fiction, a pursuit that animated his younger years.

This week on the podcast, Oren joins Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver to discuss how his varied career fits together—how the writing of fiction relates to the writing of history, how the study of history relates to the practice of diplomacy, how diplomatic service and writing both require the same aptitudes of perception, and how all of this came together in the service of Zionism and the 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.

This podcast was recorded over Zoom at a virtual event for members of the Tikvah-Beren Collegiate Forum. You can learn more about the Forum here.

Direct download: Oren_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:27pm EST

Most of our podcast guests, especially those focusing on religious issues, tend to look at the world in a traditional way―meaning, their habits of mind tend to be traditional and conservative.

Many of our podcast guests, especially the rabbis and religious leaders who help us think about Jewish theology, tend to look at the world and speak out of the more conservative and orthodox orientation. But this week’s guest is—at least professionally—an outsider to that world. Joel Kotkin is not a rabbi or theologian but a social scientist, and he has turned his attention to the world of religion.

Kotkin recently published an essay in Quillette, “God and the Pandemic,” and he joins our Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver to talk about that essay, and to assess what’s happening in American religious culture today as the pandemic continues to take its toll. Kotkin, looking at religious life empirically, examines the role of technology and human adaptability in the present religious environment, and he tries to think about the long-term effects COVID-19 will have on synagogues, churches, mosques and other religious communities across the 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.

Direct download: Kotkin_FINAL.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:35pm EST

In the water-scarce Middle East, water that can be used for drinking and agriculture is of premium importance. The entire ancient civilization of imperial Egypt grew up around the Nile River and its basin, and much of the east Africa still depends on it. Although Israel has made amazing advances in hydrotechnology, it too must treat water as a scarce resource, and that makes the politics of the Nile, along with the policing of the Red Sea, a question of real strategic significance to the Jewish state and the regional order of the Middle East. 

In this week’s podcast, Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver is joined by Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, to discuss the strategic importance of the Nile River, the policing of the Red Sea, and what they mean for Israel and the regional order 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.

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

American democracy is a nation of nations. Muslims, Christians, and Jews, women and men from every nation on earth have made themselves into Americans. Nevertheless, a unique majority culture developed within this nation of nations: a kind of big-tent, denomination-less, Protestant Christianity. In that culture, the dominant Jewish anxiety was assimilation into Christianity. Today however, America’s widely shared cultural pieties are no longer overtly Christian. There remain pockets of Christian vitality, but those pockets are now minorities in a new kind of American culture, one characterized less by its religious sensibilities and more by its secular liberalism.
 
In a short essay called “Christmas, Christians, and Jews,” published in National Review in 1988, the writer Irving Kristol suggested that the democratic principles of civility and prudence should govern how American Jews and Christians relate to one another. But are those principles, and the other habits of mind American Jews adopted to resist melting into America’s old Christian-majority culture, adequate for resisting assimilation into America’s new secular culture?
 
That’s the question Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, and the Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, takes up in conversation with Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver. They also explore what the principles that Kristol suggested require today – not only of American Jews, but of Christians too – as they figure out how to address themselves to a secular liberal culture that can be hostile to traditional 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.

Direct download: Yuval_Levin_Religious_Minorities_FINAL_v2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:19pm EST

When the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah each winter, what are we celebrating? The story of the holiday is the tale of rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem after it had been occupied and defiled by the Seleucid Greeks, who—with the aid of Hellenizing Jews—were not content only to have conquered the land, but also demanded that the Jews living there relinquish their religious way of life.

And with that tradition so close to being snuffed out, monotheism itself was nearly snuffed out. The stakes were great, and each and every believing Muslim, Christian, and Jew who walks the earth today owes some measure of debt to the small remnant of a small people who resisted the mightiest military empire on earth.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silve is joined by Tikvah's Rabbi Mark Gottlieb to explore the deepest theological meaning of Hanukkah. Their conversation centers on an essay by 20th-century Modern Orthodoxy's leading thinker, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The essay, “The Everlasting Hanukkah,” can be found in a volume of Rabbi Soloveitchik's writings entitled Days of Deliverance.

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: Gottlieb_Hanukkah_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:34pm EST

From the Iran Deal to the rise of and fall of ISIS, from Israel’s year of inconclusive elections to a pandemic that has ravaged globe, the second decade of the 21st century has been history-making for both the United States and Israel. And for the better part of these last 10 years, Ron Dermer has served as the Jewish state’s ambassador in Washington, D.C. He is not the first native-born American who emigrated to Israel, rose to political prominence, and was then sent back here on behalf of his chosen nation. But his intimate understanding of America and the sensibilities of its citizens—both Jewish and non-Jewish—has helped him in his service and made him all the more effective.

Ambassador Dermer is now preparing to leave his post and return home to Jerusalem. Before he goes, he joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss what he’s done, what he’s proud of, the basis of the U.S.-Israel relationship today, and why he remains hopeful about the alliance between America and Israel in the 21st century.

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: Dermer_Wash_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:14pm EST

It has been widely reported that, in late November of 2020, the Israeli prime minister secretly flew to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with the kingdom’s crown prince. That these two leaders met at all is noteworthy; that they might have discussed the possibility of normalizing relations between the Jewish state and the wealthiest and most influential Arab country is momentous.

It is easy to see what Israel stands to gain from peace with the Saudis. But what’s in it for Saudi Arabia? What would they gain, and what would they risk losing?

Richard Goldberg, a Middle East expert and a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tackles these question in his Mosaic piece, “What Saudi Arabia is Thinking.” In this podcast, he joins Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver to discuss what brought the Middle East to this current moment, how the upcoming change at the White House is affecting Saudi thinking, and whether Israeli-Saudi normalization is truly on the horizon.

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: Goldberg_Saudi_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:11pm EST

After a decades-long, worldwide campaign to free Soviet Jewry, in the late 1980s the borders of the Soviet Union were finally opened, allowing its Jews to immigrate to the State of Israel. This period saw approximately one million men and women from the former Soviet Union leave and resettle in the Jewish state. They came in fulfillment of Zionist aspirations, in search of material opportunities, and in pursuit of greater freedom.

At the time that the Russians arrived, Israel had fewer than five million citizens, and these new immigrants brought with them an entirely new set of cultural assumptions and practices. And they posed a religious challenge as well, as a great many of them qualified for Israeli citizenship, but did not qualify as Jewish under the requirements of Orthodox law.

How did they transform Israel? Its economy? Its culture? Its politics? And how did Israel transform them? In the three decades since they arrived, what has happened?

That’s the subject of Matti Friedman’s November 2020 essay in Mosaic, and in this podcast, he joins Mosaic’s editor to probe the miraculous story of the Russian Aliyah and what it teaches us about the exceptional spirit of Israeli society and Israeli citizenship.

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: Friedman_Russians_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:34pm EST

The year 2020 has been one of real suffering. The Coronavirus has infected tens of millions the world over and has taken the lives of a quarter of a million Americans. It’s decimated the economy, shuttered businesses, brought low great cities, and immiserated millions who could not even attend funerals or weddings, visit the sick, or console the demoralized.

This podcast focuses on how to think Jewishly about suffering and about the sources of Jewish fortitude in the face of tragedy and challenge. In his October 2020 Mosaic essay, “How America’s Idealism Drained Its Jews of Their Resilience,” Shalem College’s Daniel Gordis examines recent experiences of Jewish suffering and how different Jewish communities responded to it. In doing so, he makes the case that Jewish tradition and Jewish nationalism endow the Jewish soul with the resources to persevere in the face of adversity. Liberal American Jewish communities, by contrast, have no such resources to draw upon. He joins Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay and more.

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: Gordis_Resilience_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:08pm EST

In November of 1945, the American Jewish Committee established a new, independent magazine of Jewish ideas, with the goal of explaining America to the Jews and the Jews to America. This month, Commentary marks 75 years of publishing about everything from culture, politics, and history to foreign affairs, Israel, and Jewish thought. During that time, it has proven to be one of America’s most influential journals of public affairs and central fora for great Jewish debates. The late Irving Kristol is said to have called it the most important Jewish magazine in history. He was probably right.

In the history of American Jewish letters, Commentary is responsible for bringing Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, and Cynthia Ozick to the attention of the reading public. During the Cold War, the magazine fought against the then-reigning foreign-policy paradigms of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Not one, but two separate Commentary essays helped secure their authors’—Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jean Kirkpatrick—appointments as United Nations Ambassadors. And in the field of Jewish and Zionist ideas thought, the magazine has over the years published such leading Jewish scholars as Gershom Scholem, Emil Fackenheim, Leon Kass, and Ruth Wisse.

Commentary was for many years edited by the legendary Norman Podhoretz, who was followed by Neal Kozodoy (now Mosaic’s editor-at-large); it is now led by John Podhoretz, the guest of this podcast. In this conversation with Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver—inspired by the magazine’s 75th anniversary issue—Podhoretz looks back at his own history with Commentary, reflects on the work of an editor, recalls how Commentary shaped American Jewish history, and articulates why Commentary still matters three-quarters of a century after its birth.

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: JPod_Commentary_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:37pm EST

Last week marked the 140th birthday of one of Zionism’s most remarkable and prophetic leaders: Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky. The intellectual father of the Revisionist school and the ideological forerunner of today’s ruling Likud party, Jabotinsky exhibited more foresight during his lifetime that nearly any of his contemporaries. He was, for example, foremost in sounding the alarm about the danger to European Jews a decade before the Holocaust.

His prescience is also on display in a pair of essays he wrote in the 1920s: “The Iron Wall” and “Ethics of the Iron Wall,” in which he laid out a security doctrine for dealing with the Arab population of Palestine. Even a century later, these essays read as if they could have been written just yesterday.

Several years ago, the Israeli writer and thinker Yossi Klein Halevi joined the podcast to discuss Jabotinsky’s Zionism, how he related to the Arabs of the Land of Israel, and why “The Iron Wall” still matters today. In honor of this great Zionist founding father’s birthday, we are pleased to rebroadcast this conversation.

If you want to learn more about Jabotinsky, his thought, and why he matters, have a look at these Mosaic's essays:

"No Apologies: How to Respond to Slander of Israel and Jews"

"Who Was Jabotinsky?"

"Could Jewish and Zionist Leaders Have Done More to Rescue the Jews of Poland?"

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: Halevi_Jabotinsky_Rebroadcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:40pm EST

Under the U.S. Constitution, the freedom of religion is protected by two separate guarantees: a prohibition on the establishment of an official church and an individual right to the “free exercise” of religion. The First Amendment thus protects not only the right of the faithful to believe as their consciences dictate, but also the right to live their lives in accordance with these beliefs.

Since 1990, the legal contours of the free exercise clause have been defined by a landmark Supreme Court case, Employment Division v. Smith, which significantly narrowed the protections afforded to people of faith. In the time since, both the legal and the cultural landscape have changed significantly, and the Court will have a chance to revisit Smith’s holding in the upcoming case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford University, a constitutional scholar and former judge, for a timely discussion on the history of religious liberty in the United States and the future of the free-exercise clause.

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: McConnell_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 7:51pm EST

During this year of lockdowns, shuttered businesses, and working from home, people have made time for many new habits and hobbies, from baking bread to reorganizing closets. In this podcast, Jewish literary and political scholar Ruth Wisse, one of our era’s great masters of Jewish letters, offers her own suggestion for how to spend at least some of that time: reading the greatest works of modern Jewish literature.

Those works to her are:

In this episode, Wisse explains what drew her to her choices and why, even with just a few months left in the year, we all ought to pick up one of these books and start reading.

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 over Zoom as part of a virtual seminar series for Israel gap-year students on “The Jewish Political Condition.”

Direct download: Wisse_5_Books_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:34pm EST

The Coronavirus pandemic has undermined years of economic growth and sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis onto the unemployment rolls. How can Israel—the legendary “start-up nation”—recover from this economic crisis?

Dan Senor, co-author with Saul Singer of the bestselling book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, is one of the world’s leading experts on Israel’s economy in general, and its tech sector in particular. He joins Mosaic’s editor, Jonathan Silver, for a discussion about how the Jewish state became a global technology juggernaut, the prospects for integrating the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors into the broader economy, and the outlook for an Israeli recovery after the devastation of COVID-19.

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 over Zoom as part of a virtual seminar series for Israel gap-year students on “The Jewish Political Condition.” You can learn more about, and register for, that series here—even if you are no longer a student!

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

2020 has been a chaotic year, and last weekend, millions of Jews the world over celebrated Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year—and prayed that the coming year would be better than the one that just ended.

Of course, for religious Jews we’re now in the midst of the ten day period between Rosh Hashana and the day of atonement, Yom Kippur. During this interim period, known as the Ten Days of Repentance, we take a step back from our lives, reflect on our shortcomings, and resolve to return to walk a better path in the year ahead.

In this podcast, our host, Jonathan Silver, digs back into the archives to bring you excerpts from our best conversations on faith, mortality, tradition, and obligation, and sin. Our aim this week is to bring you occasions to think theologically at a theologically heightened time of year. Excerpts are drawn from past discussions with Tara Isabella Burton, Rabbi David Bashevkin, Christine Rosen, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, and Rabbi Dovid Margolin.

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: Days_of_Awe_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 8:50pm EST

Over the past several years, debates about America’s so-called “deep state”—the web of agencies, career civil servants, and unelected bureaucrats responsible for a growing amount of federal policymaking—have increasingly found their way into political discourse in the United States. Though these arguments occasionally take conspiratorial turns, at their core is perhaps the most important question in political science: Who rules, the people or the bureaucrats?

In Mosaic’s September 2020 essay, the lauded Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur takes us inside the workings of another country’s deep state: Israel’s. He makes a surprising and thought-provoking case, one that might seem counterintuitive to many Americans. He argues that while the Israeli bureaucracy is unelected and largely unaccountable, it is also an indispensable source of fiscal prudence and market discipline in a political system rife with profoundly distorted incentives.

In this podcast, Gur speaks with Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver about his essay. They explore how Israel’s socialist roots still influence contemporary economic debates, the legacy of Israel's 1980s economic turmoil, and how the budgetary bureaucracy counter-weighs dysfunction elsewhere in Israel’s political system.

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: Haviv_Rettig_Gur_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:48pm EST

Since 2015, the Israeli writer and translator Hillel Halkin has published a series of ten essays in Mosaic on the seminal Hebrew writers of the 19th and early-20th centuries. They dealt with everyone from Bialik to Agnon, Rahel to Ahad Ha’am. Those essays have now been brought together in Halkin’s newly published book, The Lady of Hebrew and Her Lovers of Zion. The act of writing such a book is an act of cultural preservation, safeguarding the literature, poetry, and essays through which the Jewish people sought to understand themselves as a modern nation in the modern world.

In this podcast, Halkin joins one of his longtime interlocutors, Professor Ruth Wisse, for a wide-ranging discussion about Israel, aliyah, tradition, religion, cultural fidelity, and, of course, Halkin’s new book. This conversation is but a snapshot of a long-running conversation between these two giants of modern Jewish letters.

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 over Zoom at a digital event co-sponsored by Beit Avi Chai and Mosaic.

Direct download: Wisse_Halkin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:15pm EST

Prisoner of Zion, human-rights activist, member of Knesset, chairman of the Jewish Agency. Lecturer, author, inspiration to millions. In his 72 years on earth, Natan Sharansky has lived several lifetimes. And in his latest book, Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People, he partners with the historian Gil Troy to reflect on the lessons he has learned throughout a life that’s taken him from the Gulag to the halls of Israel’s parliament.

In this podcast, Gil Troy joins Jonathan Silver for a conversation about his partnership with Sharansky, the Israel-Diaspora relationship, the Sovietization of American culture, and much more.

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: Gil_Troy_Podcast_FI_2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:59am EST

Though substantial progress is rarely made, peace in the Middle East is the holy grail of every American presidential administration and the subject of endless analysis and discussion. The amount of time and effort that government officials, foreign-policy experts, and diplomats have put into solving the conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbors is probably incalculable. But this month, the United States managed to help them achieve a breakthrough, brokering what’s being called the Abraham Accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The path to this accord was not conventional. One of the key administration officials who led this effort, Jared Kushner, drew on his experience in the private sector to reevaluate the interests and alliances of the region. Until five years ago, Kushner had little political experience, but his team achieved something that has confounded peace-process professionals for decades.

In this podcast, Kushner joins Mosaic’s Jonathan Silver for a conversation about how the deal came to be, how he thinks about America’s role in the Middle East, and the administration’s approach to diplomacy in the region. Covering everything from the relationship between the Gulf states and the Jewish state to China’s growing role in the Middle East to the president’s unconventional approach, this conversation offers a rare look behind the scenes of American diplomacy in the Trump 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.

Direct download: Kushner_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:35pm EST

One week ago, the president of the United States, the prime minister of Israel, and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates together announced the normalization of relations between the U.A.E and Israel. This is Israel’s first accord with an Arab nation since 1994, and it is the first time it has ever entered into such an arrangement with an Arab nation with which it does not share a border.

In this week’s podcast, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, explains how this happened, who made it happen, and the consequences it could well have for regional security, regional prosperity, and peace between Israel and her other Arab neighbors.

In conversation with Jonathan Silver, Ambassador Dermer speaks about his hopes for the relationship between Israel and the Emirates, the nations he expects will follow their lead, the ramifications of this accord for the Palestinians, and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strategic insight about the relationship between diplomatic achievement abroad and commercial, entrepreneurial, and military strength at home.

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: Dermer_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:18am EST

The book of Deuteronomy, which Jews around the globe read in synagogue in the period leading up to the High Holy Days, consists primarily of Moses’s final oration to the people of Israel. With the nation on the cusp of conquering Canaan and establishing its own sovereign government, the prophet presents Israel with a set of laws and regulations surrounding power and kingship—what some scholars call the “Mosaic Constitution.”

In his best-selling Hebrew book, ha-N’um ha-Aharon shel Moshe (Moses’s Last Speech), the Israeli writer and philosopher Micah Goodman offers a thought-provoking and original interpretation of Deuteronomy, presenting profound insights about the Torah’s revolutionary political teachings. Though the book has not yet been translated into English, Dr. Goodman recently taught an eight-episode online course for the Tikvah Fund on “Deuteronomy: The Last Speech of Moses,” in which he explores and expands upon the themes and ideas of his earlier work. In this podcast, he speaks with Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver about Deuteronomy’s laws regarding the monarchy and what political and philosophical wisdom they hold for us today.

If you enjoy this podcast, you can enroll in Dr. Goodman’s free Tikvah online course at Courses.TikvahFund.org.

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: Goodman_Deuteronomy_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:20pm EST

Last year, a former Obama-era Defense Department official testified before Congress about Chinese strategy in the Middle East, saying “China’s strategy in the Middle East is driven by its economic interests...China...does not appear interested in substantially deepening its diplomatic or security activities there.” This view certainly sums up conventional foreign-policy wisdom, but, write the Hudson Institute scholars Michael Doran and Peter Rough, it couldn’t be more wrong.

In an extended essay published in Tablet, Doran and Rough demonstrate that “China is very actively engaged in a hard-power contest with the United States,” in the Middle East. The outcome of this great-power competition will have tremendous implications for the global economy, human rights, and U.S. interests in the region and around the globe.

In this podcast, Dr. Doran joins Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver for an extended conversation on this important piece. They explore China’s goals in the region, how the People’s Republic uses Russia and Iran to advance its goals, the military implications of the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s horrific persecution of the Uighurs, and much more.

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: Doran_China_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:34pm EST

Just over a year ago, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo created the new Commission on Unalienable Rights, tasked with “provid[ing] the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters" as well as "fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.” The formation of this commission signaled that Secretary Pompeo views America’s pursuit of human rights at home and abroad as properly rooted the deepest sources of American political philosophy and history.

Why?

In a draft report issued earlier this month, the commission seeks to answer this question and much more. The Commission on Unalienable Rights has been—perhaps peculiarly—controversial from the beginning. Critics accuse it of too myopic a focus on religious liberty and too little focus on sexual and so-called reproductive freedom. But in this podcast, we sit  down with Dr. Peter Berkowitz, director of policy planning at the State Department and the executive secretary of the commission, to hear first-hand the thinking behind the commission’s report and the conclusions it presents.

There probably aren’t many interviews out there with State Department officials in which the topics of discussion include the first chapter of Genesis, Plato’s Republic, and the philosophy of John Locke. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss.

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: Berkowitz_Rights_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EST

After centuries of antagonism and persecution, the twentieth century introduced profound changes to the relationship between Jews and Christians. In the shadow of the Holocaust, post-War America witnessed a flowering of interfaith dialogue, often spearheaded by the more liberal wings of both groups. This flowering of interreligious cooperation was made possible by identifying the lowest common denominators between Judaism and Christianity—a shared attachment to the Hebrew Bible, similar ethical commitments—and eliding the more serious theological differences between them.

But today, we are witnessing a different kind of rapprochement, not between the most progressive and weakly affiliated Jews and Christians, but between some of the most traditional and committed members of both faiths. This historic new cooperation is the topic of Professor Wilfred McClay’s July 2020 essay in Mosaic, “What Christians See in Jews and Israel in 2020 of the Common Era.” And in this podcast, he joins Mosaic’s editor to explore his piece in greater depth. He discusses the events that have led to this new and historic era, the role America’s unique history has played in reaching this point, and the role of religion in securing the precious blessings of ordered liberty.

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: McClay_Jews-Christians_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 8:54pm EST

On June 25, 2020, an explosion rocked the Iranian military complex of Parchin. An hour later, the city of Shiraz—which houses major Iranian military facilities—was hit with a power outage. On June 30, there was an explosion at a clinic in Tehran; on July 2, the nuclear-enrichment facility in Natanz was hit; July 4 saw an explosion at a power plant in Ahvaz. In fact, every day or two since late June has brought news of a mysterious explosion somewhere in Iran.

What on earth is going on?

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver talks with Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin, Israel’s former chief of military intelligence and the executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in order to understand these mysterious events. They examine the geopolitical backdrop of the current chaos, the strategic thinking of whoever is behind these bombings, and what this all could mean for the future of the region.

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: Yadlin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:23pm EST

Everyone can see that a revolutionary spirit is haunting American public life right now. The demands being made of our laws and culture are uncompromising and radical. The public mood is given to extremes, and notions of gradual improvement and subtle distinctions are thought to be incapable of speaking to the severity of our racial, cultural, scientific, and spiritual challenges

So this week, we are rebroadcasting a discussion from the archives that focuses on a figure whose watchwords were the very opposite of America’s present utopian fever—the essayist of American skepticism, empiricism, meliorism, and gradualism—Irving Kristol.

Our guest is Matthew Continetti, and the focus of our discussion is an essay he published back in 2014, “The Theological Politics of Irving Kristol.” In it, Continetti argues that there is a rabbinic cast of mind underneath Kristol’s meliorism, that is, his effort to weigh trade-offs and favor gradual improvement when possible within the confines of man’s broken nature.

Direct download: Continetti_Kristol_Podcast_Rebroadcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:04pm EST

As the Supreme Court closed out it 2019-2020 term, it handed down its decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. With a 5-4 majority, the Court ruled that states could not use their so-called “Blaine Amendments” in order to deny religious schools funding that is generally available to other private schools. It was a momentous decision, with implications for school choice programs and religious liberty across the nation.

Earlier this year, soon after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, we had a discussion with Professor Michael Avi Helfand about the legal ins and outs of Espinoza. In this podcast, Jonathan Silver sits down with EdChoice Director of Policy Jason Bedrick to discuss the Court’s ultimate decision, what it means for school choice and religious pluralism, and what the decision means for the Jewish community. Bedrick and Silver also talk about school choice programs more broadly, the ongoing debate about government oversight of haredi educational institutions in the U.S., and the recent expansion of educational choice in Florida.

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: Bedrick_Espinoza_Podcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:23pm EST

On May 31, 2020, American Jewry lost a giant. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, the longtime president of Yeshiva University (YU), was one of the nation’s foremost defenders Orthodox Judaism and exponents of the Torah U’Madda—Torah and secular knowledge—philosophy that animates Modern Orthodoxy.

 

His passing was followed with an outpouring of remembrances from friends, family, students, and admirers. Most of them, appropriately, shined light on Rabbi Lamm’s remarkable career as a turnaround artist. He inherited the leadership of Yeshiva University on unstable foundations and saved the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy.

 

But writing in Commentary, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik focused his remembrance on something else: Rabbi Lamm’s career as a congregational rabbi before his leadership at YU. As Soloveichik reviewed Rabbi Lamm’s many speeches and sermons, he concluded that Lamm was “the greatest composer of sermons in the English-speaking rabbinic world.” In this podcast, Rabbi Soloveichik joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the basis of that judgment, and what Rabbi Lamm’s legacy of rabbinic oratory models for today’s pulpit rabbis. They focus especially on two of his most impressive sermons: “The Fountain of Life” and “Confessions of a Confused Rabbi.”

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_Lamm_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:13pm EST

The so-called “rise of the nones” is a trend that has been going on for decades in the U.S., as more and more Americans, when asked about their religion on surveys, are checking the box labeled “none.” With this trend strongest among millennials and members of Generation Z, the future seems clear: we are becoming a more secular country.

Or are we?

The instinctual search for religious meaning and the yearning for transcendence are sewn into the fabric of the human condition. Everyone worships. And as Tara Isabella Burton documents in her new book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, the decline of traditional religious institutions has been accompanied by a rise in alternative forms of spiritual expression; and more than that, an investment of spiritual energy into nearly every domain of human life, from shopping to health to politics.

In this podcast, Burton joins Jonathan Silver to discuss her book, the return of paganism to America, and the spirituality of SoulCycle.

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: Burton_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:37pm EST

Discussions about "cancel culture," the practice of stigmatizing and ostracizing a person or institution deemed to have transgressed political correctness, have become ubiquitous in the United States. From the campus to the boardroom to the newsroom, the cost of having ever said or thought the wrong thing can now put one's reputation and livelihood at risk. And there is no path for the accused to enjoy ablution, to wash away the sin of wrongthink. Public figures of all kinds, from politics to journalism, have been accused and tried in the court of public opinion without the ability to defend themselves. American culture seems to be undergoing a kind of revolution, fomented in social media, that is reshaping the contours of our public life.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Professor Gary Saul Morson to discuss his 2019 New Criterion essay, "Leninthink." Morson's essay is not about Lenin the man, nor is it about Lenin's ideology. Leninthink is actually anti-ideological. It is a cast of mind, and a political tactic that utilizes ideology to wage political revolution. At a time when cancel culture threatens to tear down the universities, the museums, and the press, Morson's study is more important than 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.

Direct download: Morson_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:33pm EST

Professor Wilfred McClay penned his essay, “The Soul of a Nation,” just three years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The essay—a deep reflection on the history, nature, and future of American civic religion—was written in part as a response to the deep questions American were asking themselves about civil society, faith, and public life in the aftermath of moment of deep and profound crisis.

The United States again finds itself in a moment of pain and crisis. In the spirit of helping us think more profoundly about our soul as a people, we are rebroadcasting our 2017 podcast with Professor McClay revisiting his essay.

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_1.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:47am EST

Jewish institutions have not been immune from the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer camps and other revenue generators have been canceled, and donations are predictably down. What does this mean for Jewish life America—especially for the denominational infrastructure that has loomed so large for so long?

When the crisis is over, will congregants return to synagogues with renewed enthusiasm or will they continue to enjoy livestreamed services from the comfort of their homes? Will the liberal denominations—already plagued by declining memberships and tenuous commitment—be able to recover? Could the Reform and Conservative denominations merge some of their institutional infrastructure under the pressure of Coronavirus-induced changes, as the Union for Reform Judaism’s president Rabbi Rick Jacobs recently suggested?

In this episode, one of America’s leading Conservative rabbis, David Wolpe, joins Jonathan Silver to think through these challenging questions about the future of Judaism 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.

 

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

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in the United States and Israel, and those nations’ governments and public institutions responded with quarantines and social-distancing guidelines, the Jewish community was placed in a unique bind. Passover—the most widely observed holiday in the Jewish world, on which families and friends traditionally gather for the seder—was just around the corner. With the world on lockdown, what would the seder look like?

The liberal denominations of Judaism responded quickly, encouraging the use of now-ubiquitous video conferencing technology to host “Zoom seders” and providing guidance on how to do so. But the Zoom seder was not such a simple answer for the Orthodox, who generally refrain from using electronic devices and other technologies on Shabbat and holidays. In late March, a group of Israeli rabbis from the Moroccan community issued a radical ruling, permitting the limited use of Zoom on the seder night. But this ruling was met with swift backlash among the majority of the Orthodox rabbinate, which ruled Zoom seders forbidden.

What was behind this intra-Orthodox debate? What does the opposition to Zoom seders among most Orthodox authorities tell us about the nature of Jewish law? And in standing against the Zoom seder, what were these traditionalist rabbis standing for? These are the questions Chaim Saiman seeks to answer in his Mosaic essay, “In Rejecting the Zoom Seder, What Did Orthodox Jews Affirm?” And it’s what Professor Saiman discusses with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver in this Tikvah Podcast.

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: Saiman_Zoom_Seder_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:41pm EST

The biblical book of Exodus “not only recounts the founding of the Israelite nation, one of the world’s oldest and most consequential peoples...but also sheds light on enduring questions about nation building and peoplehood.” So writes Dr. Leon Kass in the introduction to his scintillating, profound, and meticulously close reading of Exodus, Founding God’s Nation, forthcoming from Yale University Press in January 2021. In this remarkable commentary, Kass masterfully draws out, line by line and chapter by chapter, the enduring moral, philosophical, and political significance of this most important biblical book.

In April 2020, just ahead of Passover, Mosaic published an excerpt from Dr. Kass’s book, as “The People-Forming Passover.” The essay focuses on the events of the night before and the morning of the Israelites’ departure from Egypt—events rehearsed each year at the Passover table—and on their significance in the formation of the Jewish nation. In this week’s podcast, Kass sits down with Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver to explore and elucidate his essay.

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: Kass_Exodus_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 9:09pm EST

The so-called “right of return” is one of the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s thorniest issues. During Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, as many as 700,000 Arabs fled or were driven from what had been mandatory Palestine. Since then, and unlike most of the world’s other refugee populations, the official number of Palestinian refugees has not declined, but exploded. The United Nations has decided that the refugee status of the Palestinians passes down from generation to generation, so that children born today are classified as refugees in the same way their grandparents were—an attitude that is contrary to its policy for all other displaced groups. And as a consequence, even when neighboring Arab countries make an effort to integrate Palestinians and their descendants, they are counted as refugees.

Why did this happen? In The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace, Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz explain that the persistence of the Palestinian refugee problem is part of the broader Palestinian war—waged not only with rockets, knives, and bullets, but also through international bodies, NGOs, and the media—against the very existence of the Jewish state. They also show how Western indulgence of this manufactured problem has harmed the effort to achieve an end to the conflict.

This week, Jonathan Silver sits down with Einat Wilf, a former Knesset member, to discuss the roots of the refugee problem, the role it plays in the Palestinian war against Israel, and why peace will never be achieved until Palestinians abandon the dream of destroying the Jewish state.

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: Wilf_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:38pm EST

Have you ever seen the old murals that decorate the walls of Israel’s historic kibbutzim? They often feature young, brawny Jewish men and women working and plowing the land. They evoke the pioneering spirit of early Zionism: glorifying the mixing of sweat and soil, focused on what Hebrew labor could achieve through cooperation and collective action, and strikingly statist, even socialist. These murals are, in fact, a stark reminder that the Jewish state was founded in large part by Labor Zionists, and that the Israeli Left once dominated the country’s politics.

Things have changed a great deal over the past 72 years. Israel is now a nation with a strong conservative consensus. The Labor Party of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir—the political organization that erected the governing structures of the country—has been reduced to a mere three seats in the 23rd Knesset. And a poll conducted earlier this month shows that if elections were to be held right now, the party that dominated Israeli politics for decades would not win a single seat in the next Knesset.

What happened? And what does Labor’s decline tell us about contemporary Israel? Earlier this week, the journalist and author Matti Friedman wrote a piece in the New York Times examining “The Last Remnants of the Israeli Left.” In this podcast, he joins host Jonathan Silver to discuss the history and precipitous decline of socialist politics in 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 “Ulterior” by Swan Production.

Direct download: Friedman_Israeli_Left_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:27pm EST

Like so many nations around the world, Israel has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, the Jewish state has over 14,000 confirmed cases of the virus, and over 180 deaths. Among those who have suffered most from the pandemic are Israel’s ultra-Orthodox. The haredi public was slow to recognize the threat of the disease—keeping its synagogues and houses of study open even as the rest of the country closed down. Many haredim initially failed to observe the “social-distancing” protocols that have helped to slow the virus’s spread, and the results are clear: confirmed coronavirus cases in the haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem and in predominately ultra-Orthodox cities like Bnei Brak are among the highest in the country

Though things have begun to turn around, with more leading rabbis instructing their followers to observe social distancing to curb the pandemic, the question remains: why was the haredi public initially so reluctant so join the rest of Israel in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19?

No one has written about this with more insight, nuance, and wisdom that Tikvah’s own Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer. In an essay for Tzarich Iyun, Tikvah’s journal of haredi thought, Rabbi Pfeffer explores the principles and ideas that have been behind the haredi response to the virus and takes a hard look at the societal vulnerabilities this crisis has exposed. He joins this week’s podcast to discuss his important essay.

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_COVID_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:14pm EST

Yoga represents a $16-billion industry in the U.S., reaching an estimated 36.7 million people in 2016 alone. And the Jewish community enjoys it as much as any other. One hears of synagogue-sponsored yoga programs and yoga minyanim (quorums). Even a right-wing Orthodox educational organization like Aish HaTorah has seen fit to re-post on its website an item titled “How Orthodox Jews Taught Me Yoga.” In a stimulating Mosaic essay on the subject, Menachem Wecker asks if the very thing that gets people excited about yoga, namely that it is not just physical exercise but spiritual nourishment as well, should force us to think about how it relates to Jewish faith. How much of contemporary yoga, a product of today’s “wellness culture,” is still seriously connected to its Hindu origins? What about the statues and other visual representations of non-Jewish divinities that adorn so many yoga studios? Is yoga a form of contemporary idolatry?

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by the author Menachem Wecker to discuss his March 2020 essay, “Shibboleths and Sun Salutations: Should Religious Jews Practice Yoga?” published in Mosaic.

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: Tikvah_Podcast_-_Wecker_Final2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 6:17pm EST

With the recent agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival, Benny Gantz, a governing coalition is at long last beginning to emerge in Israel. After three national elections in a single year, the Jewish state will soon have a regular cabinet and resume the work of government.

It couldn’t have happened at a better time. The coronavirus pandemic will have significant effects on Israel’s politics and economy, while Israel’s citizens continue to live under threat of attack from enemies in the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. And questions remain about what will become of the Trump peace plan, especially with American elections just a few months away.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Moshe Koppel, chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a member of the Department of Computer Science at Bar-Ilan University, and one of Israel’s leading conservative political activists and policy experts. They analyze the causes of Israel’s political crisis, explain how it finally came to an end, and probe the larger significance of these recent events in Israeli 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.

This podcast was recorded as part of an exclusive conference call for members of the Tikvah Society. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.

Direct download: Koppel_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:22am EST

In the past two months, the Coronavirus has spread rapidly around the globe, affecting nearly every nation in the world. As disruptive and damaging as this pandemic has been in the United States, Israel, and Europe, it has been far more devastating in Iran, where mass graves have been dug to bury its victims. Official statistics paint a dreadful picture of the situation there, but Iranian citizens have taken to social media to tell that world that the reality on the ground is even worse than these statistics suggest. After refusing for weeks to heed the advice of its own experts and impose social-distancing measures, the regime recently took the drastic step of canceling the annual celebration of its nuclear program.

Why has the Islamic Republic been so hard hit? Is there any truth to the Iranian foreign minister’s complaint that American sanctions are to blame? And thinking strategically, what implications will the COVID-19 crisis have for the conflict between Iran and the U.S.?

In this podcast, Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran joins Jonathan Silver to answer these questions and more.

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 as part of an exclusive conference call for members of the Tikvah Society. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_-_Doran_Coronavirus_Iran_-_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:39pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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.

 

 

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

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 EST

In both Israel and the United States, most politicians, foreign-policy experts, and citizens desire a strong and ever-closer relationship between the two nations. Israel and America share values, interests, and a deeply rooted biblical heritage that ties them inextricably together. But lately, U.S.-Israel relations have hit an impasse of sorts. As the Jewish state pursues greater economic ties with the People’s Republic of China, it has created new friction with America, which views China—rightly—as a geopolitical and economic rival.

In his December 2019 Mosaic essay, Hudson Institute scholar Arthur Herman delves into the sources of the U.S.-Israel tension caused by China and suggests a path forward. This new piece follows up on his 2018 essay, “Israel and China Take a Leap Forward-but to Where?” In this podcast, Herman joins host Jonathan Silver to discuss the evolving nature of Israel’s relationship with China, how that relationship has strained relations with Israel’s most reliable ally, and how Israel and the United States can best preserve their special relationship as they both seek to meet the challenge of China’s rise.

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.

Direct download: Herman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:16pm EST

Three years into the Trump Administration, how is America doing? What does Israel’s current political instability mean for its foreign policy? How should the rise of China affect how the U.S. thinks about projecting global power? It can be hard to penetrate the news cycle and think deeply about the many facets of politics and world affairs from a strategic point of view. But that’s exactly what Walter Russell Mead does week after week in the Wall Street Journal and as a scholar at the Hudson Institute and Bard College.

This week, Walter Russell Mead joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss Israel, American foreign policy, Christian Zionism, and much more. This conversation is both broad and deep and covers everything from Israeli-Turkish relations and Chinese cyberwarfare to what Trump means for our political culture and the story of how Theodor Herzl met the Kaiser.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.

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: WRM_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:57pm EST

This past October, the former U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman was a keynote speaker at the inaugural Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism, held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. His speech was published on November 7 in Mosaic in essay form as “What American Jews Can Do to Help Keep Herzl’s Dream Alive.” In it, Senator Lieberman reflects on the miracle of the modern Jewish state, the meaning of Jewish self-determination for American Jews, and some of his concerns about the future of bipartisan support for Israel, especially among the young.

Senator Lieberman has had a long, distinguished, and strikingly independent career in public service. Elected to the Senate as a Democrat, he was his party’s nominee for Vice President in the 2000 election—the first American Jew to be nominated on a major party ticket. In 2008, he endorsed the Republican nominee for president, his longtime friend John McCain. But as the political terrain shifted around him, Senator Lieberman has always remained a steadfast supporter of the Jewish state, and it was a privilege to have him join Tikvah Senior Director Jonathan Silver on this podcast.

As you listen, you’ll here the senator discuss the history of his personal relationship to Israel, how he thinks Zionism can help American Jews be better citizens, and his thoughts of whether the longstanding bipartisan support for Israel is fraying as a rising progressive movement grows at the expense of the Democratic center.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Lieberman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:57pm EST

A Jewish man hit in the face with a brick. An observant woman’s wig pulled off her head. An Orthodox mother and her baby assaulted in the street.

These incidents took place not in 19th-century Russia or pre-war Germany, but in Brooklyn—which has one of the densest Jewish populations in America—in 2019. The recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks in New York against the most visibly Jewish members of our community, the ultra-Orthodox, is a worrying sign in a nation experiencing rising levels of Jew-hatred. Yet the mainstream press and many on the political Left, groups otherwise worried about the supposed rise of racism and bigotry in America, seem blithely unconcerned.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by two Jewish journalists who have given these attacks the attention they deserve. Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt is the life/features editor at the Forward and Batya Ungar-Sargon is the Forward’s opinion editor. Founded in 1897, the Forward has long been a voice of the Jewish Left. Yet among progressives, few have been as honest and clear-eyed as our guests about the ideology that blinds the many on the Left to anti-Semitism directed at the ḥaredi community. In this conversation, Chizik-Goldschmidt and Ungar-Sargon discuss the nature of the recent violence in Brooklyn and Monsey, what might be causing it, and why so many in the media have ignored this slow-moving pogrom.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: antisemitism_podcast_-_final_v2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:54am EST

On November 18, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a momentous announcement: The United States does not consider Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—illegal or illegitimate. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Israeli building in the territories it captured in 1967 is a violation of international law. But after a process of many months, the Trump State Department has decided to return to an understanding of the Geneva Convention once embraced by the Reagan Administration, and to recognize that the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is a political and diplomatic question, not a legal one.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by one of the world’s foremost scholars on Israel and international law. Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, a director at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and author of of “Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth,” published in the Wall Street Journal on November 9, 2019. In this conversation, he makes the case for the legality of Israeli settlements and explains how an erroneous and hypocritical interpretation of international law became the conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Kontorovich_Settlements_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:17pm EST

The establishment of a sovereign Jewish state just three years after the Holocaust is both a miracle and the achievement of some remarkable women and men. Now that the founding generation has passed on, it falls to those living today to sustain that achievement. But how? In thinking about the careers of prominent Israeli leaders, what lessons, particularly in courage, can we, and today's leaders, learn from them?

To ponder this question, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, and the co-author with Dennis Ross of Be Strong and of Good Courage. Through the biographies of four Israeli leaders, Makovsky and Ross invite us to think about the purposes of Zionism and the qualities of judgment and character needed to act for the sake of Israel’s strategic interests.

In this conversation, Makovsky and Silver discuss—and debate—the decisions and the legacy of two of these remarkable figures: Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin. 

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald. 

Direct download: David_Makovsky_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 7:13pm EST

Facebook is now a central fact of world politics, commerce, and affairs. With more than 2.3 billion users worldwide, it has more users than there are Christians or Muslims, not to mention Jews. Industry analysts project that by 2020 more marketing dollars will be spent on Facebook alone than on the entire TV ad market.

It is, in sum, a global presence that hovers above the world declaring that it desires nothing but to connect us with each other, to convene community. Its understanding of itself, its understanding of us, and its understanding of human nature, therefore, invite serious religious questions: How should a religious person think about Facebook; how can we think about Facebook through a religious lens?

It’s those questions Christine Rosen tackles in this episode of the Tikvah Podcast. The author of a forthcoming book about technology and social media, Christine Rosen joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to help us think about how religious communities relate—and should relate—to one of the most powerful, ubiquitous social realities of our time.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Rosen_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:11pm EST

On November 10, 2019, Norman Podhoretz—longtime editor of Commentary and one of the founding fathers of neoconservatism—will receive the Tikvah Fund’s 2019 Herzl Prize at the 3rd Annual Conference on Jews and Conservatism.

Podhoretz is a true renaissance man, whose has written on everything from culture to politics to Jewish affairs. In one of the earliest episodes of the Tikvah Podcast, we were privileged to have him join our executive director, Eric Cohen, for a conversation on his 2007 essay, “Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity.” Originally delivered as a lecture in Jerusalem, the piece is a reflection on the meaning of the holy city and the mystery of Jewish chosenness.

This week, we rebroadcast this conversation in honor of our Herzl Prize Laureate and his enduring contributions to conservatism, America, and the Jewish people.

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: NPOD_Herzl_Prize_Jerusalem_Rebroadcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:36pm EST

“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”

Oceans of ink have been spilled seeking to answer this question, first posed by the early Church father Tertullian. How do the two intellectual pillars of Western Civilization, Scripture and the philosophical tradition born in ancient Athens, relate to one another? Thinkers like Maimonides sought to reconcile Greek wisdom and Jewish thought. Other thinkers focused on the radically different grounds—reason versus revelation—upon which the insights of each tradition are founded. 

Whatever one’s focus, the vital tension between these two modes of thought has produced the most fruitful source of intellectual creativity of our culture. And it’s that vital tension that inspires the work of this podcast’s guest.

In Plato and the Talmud, Professor Jacob Howland demonstrates how the sensibilities he developed through the study of Greek philosophy have shed light on his study of the Talmud. And in a forthcoming essay, Professor Howland will offer a remarkably insightful philosophical reading of the famous Talmudic tale of the “Oven of Akhnai.” In this podcast, he joins Jonathan Silver to explore how, read in a philosophic spirit, this aggadic tale can yield a nuanced and profound political teaching.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Howland_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:04pm EST

The English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton famously described the United States as “a nation with the soul of a church.” Americans, even now, are a uniquely religious people, and it is impossible truly to understand the American Founding and the American story without reference to Scripture in general, and the Hebrew Bible in particular.

And yet, while one can sometimes undertake the academic study of the Bible in our universities—uncovering the text’s strands of composition, its dating, and its relation to ancient Near Eastern culture—less easily available in our institutions of higher learning is the opportunity to mine the Hebrew Bible for its moral and political wisdom, its manner of thinking, its ability to speak to the urgings of the soul.

The Center for Hebraic Thought (CHT) at The King’s College is trying to change that. Founded in partnership with the Philos Project, the CHT aims to “re-capture our understanding of the biblical authors’ patterns of thought and how they can inform our understanding today.” Last month, the CHT hosted a launch event featuring Philos Project Director Robert Nicholson in conversation with CHT Director Dru Johnson and Tikvah’s own Jonathan Silver. This week, the Tikvah Podcast brings you a special broadcast of this eye-opening discussion about the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible and why 21st-century America needs a revival of Hebraic thought.

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: CHT_Launch_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:10pm EST

This past July, something unusual happened in Alaska. The Israeli military launched its most technologically sophisticated defensive missiles through the atmosphere, into space. The July testing of the Arrow 3 represents the consummation of decades of military and scientific partnership between Israel and the United States.

The Arrow 3 conveys a kill vehicle that constantly adjusts in order to intercept an incoming missile itself—what is called in missile defense, a “metal to metal” intercept. If you want to understand what a monumental technological achievement this is, remember that intercontinental ballistic missiles can travel three or four miles per second—from Moscow to New York in 20 minutes. Israeli missile engineers have figured out a way to detect an incoming projectile moving that fast, deploy an intercept, and observe metal to metal contact in outer space. This unbelievable marvel of technology is the subject of this podcast.

Our guest is Dr. Thomas Karako, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the director of their Missile Defense Project. Dr. Karako discusses the nature of U.S.-Israel cooperation on missile defense, what makes the Arrow 3 system special, and why this incredible technology is so promising for America, Israel, 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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Karako_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:22pm EST

According to Jewish tradition, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year—marks the “birth” of man on the sixth day of creation. But what else was created along with him? According the sages of the Talmud, Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge on the very same day they were made, bringing the capacity for sin latent within them out into the world. Sin, in other words, is part of God’s original creation.

In this season of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we welcome Rabbi David Bashevkin to the Tikvah Podcast. His new book, Sin-a-gogue: Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought, helps us think about the nature and origins of sin. Rabbi Bashevkin and Jonathan Silver discuss what it means to think of sin as part of the fabric of creation, the relationship between sin and free will, and how we should think about the sins and failures of the individual versus those of the 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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Bashevkin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EST

In the American Jewish imagination, the story of Israel’s founding is a story of East European pioneers, socialist kibbutzim, and a Jewish state rising from the ashes of the Holocaust. And all of these things are indispensable elements of Israel’s early history. But they are not the whole picture.

After the founding of the state, Israel absorbed a massive influx of Jews from Middle Eastern lands—Mizrahim—who came from a society and culture vastly different from that of their East European co-religionists. These Jews are also part of the story of the Jewish state’s beginnings; today they represent over half of Israel’s Jewish population, profoundly shaping the culture, religion, and politics of 21st-century Israel.

In 2014, author and journalist Matti Friedman penned an essay in Mosaic titled, “Mizrahi Nation,” in which he tells the story of these Jews from Arab lands and explains how one simply cannot understand contemporary Israel without understanding that it has been profoundly shaped by the Mizrahim. Israel, Friedman argues, is a much more Middle Eastern country than many Jews in the West imagine it to be.

In this podcast, Friedman joins Jonathan Silver to reflect on his essay. They discuss the long and remarkable history of Mizrahi Jews, how they have shaped the Jewish state, and how understanding their role in Israel’s past and present can give us a clearer picture of the nation’s 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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Matti_Friedman_Mizrahi_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:38pm EST

If you follow Israeli politics, then you know that within the past year, the Jewish state has experienced two deadlocked elections. What explains this political stalemate?

According to Micah Goodman, one of Israel’s leading public intellectuals, Israeli politics is trapped in a Catch-67. Most Israelis have been persuaded by the Right that peace with the Palestinians isn’t feasible and that withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would be a security nightmare. But they are also persuaded by the Left’s argument that Israel’s control over the West Bank poses a demographic time-bomb that threatens the nation’s character as a Jewish and democratic state. They think that establishing a Palestinian state right now would be a disaster and that remaining in the territories would be a disaster.

How can Israel get out of this impossible situation? By abandoning comprehensive peace plans and messianic solutions, argues Goodman. Rather than solving the conflict or ignoring it, Israel ought to focus on shrinking the conflict by improving the day-to-day lives of Palestinians while maintaining an unwavering commitment to national security. In his Atlantic essay, “Eight Steps to Shrink the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Goodman describes how Israel can do just that. And in this week’s podcast, he joins Tikvah to explore his vital book and thought-provoking essay.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Micah_Goodman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:40pm EST

Throughout our podcast series with eminent Jewish historian Jack Wertheimer, we have spoken about a Judaism of “peak moments.” This is the kind of Judaism most American Jews practice; connecting to their faith at a small number of important dates and life transitions: the High Holy Days, b’nai mitzvah, weddings, funerals. In this week’s podcast—the third and final episode in our series—our conversation focuses on the place where so many of these peak moments take place: the synagogue.

The liturgy and choreography of synagogue services—especially in the liberal denominations—are undergoing important changes. From hosting musical “rock shabbat” services to creating a more informal atmosphere in the sanctuary, shuls are working hard to engage congregants on a more regular basis. And the Orthodox are doing their part to reach out to the unengaged through a massive network of outreach organizations that draw in the non-Orthodox, even as they remain fastidiously observant of Jewish law.

Wertheimer and Tikvah's Jonathan Silver discuss where these efforts have been successful and where they have failed, the goals of Orthodox outreach, and how committed Jews can do their part to secure the Jewish 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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Wertheimer_3_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm EST

With the exception of shabbat, there is probably no practice that distinguishes pious Jews more than the observance of kashrut—the Jewish dietary laws. Whether at a business meeting or an everyday social gathering, Jews who keeps kosher have to set themselves apart from the crowd whenever food is involved. To keep kosher is to stand out.

And that is precisely the point.

In “Locusts, Giraffes, and the Meaning of Kashrut,” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik argues that the deepest purpose of kashrut lies in how it reinforces the distinct identity of the Jewish people and their status as a chosen nation. “By keeping kosher,” he writes, “Jews express the belief that they are chosen, separate from the nations until the end of time.”

In this podcast, Rabbi Soloveichik joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay and his argument. They analyze the many diverse reasons that have been given for Jewish dietary laws, explore what those arguments get right and wrong, and explain how eating kosher locusts can help illuminate the true meaning of kashrut.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

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

On July 18, 1994, a car-bomb struck the headquarters of AMIA—the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, the largest Jewish community center and social-service agency in Buenos Aires—killing 85 people and wounding 300 more. It was the worst single attack on Diaspora Jews since the Holocaust.

A quarter-century later, the perpetrators of this terror attack have still not been brought to justice. And in this month’s Mosaic essay, the renowned Jewish activist Rabbi Avi Weiss tells the story of the shameful cover-up of the AMIA bombing.

As soon as he heard about the attack, Rabbi Weiss packed his bags and traveled to Argentina to be present with the suffering Jewish community there. But he soon found himself confronting the then-president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, and attending a cabinet meeting where it became clear to Rabbi Weiss that the Menem government was not serious about catching and punishing the perpetrators of this horrific crime.

In this week’s podcast, Rabbi Weiss joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay. He recounts his initial trip to Argentina and surreal meeting with President Menem, reflects on his many journeys back to Argentina in the years since the bombing, and offers his thoughts on the complicated role of the Jewish activist who operates outside the corridors of power demanding justice for his people.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Avi_Weiss_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:51pm EST

For much of the 20th century, the major denominations—Conservative, Reform, Orthodox—loomed large over institutional Jewish life in America. But in 2019, the Jewish scene looks different; the movements hold less purchase on Jewish life than they once did, especially for the young. And the denominations look different internally as well. Reform Judaism has embraced ritual practices once deemed outmoded. Orthodoxy, which many thought on its way to extinction, is strong, growing, and confident. And Conservative Judaism, once thought to be the future of American Jewry, is caught betwixt and between, too religiously observant to facilitate intermarriage, too religiously lenient to command the encompassing solidarity and halakhic observance of Orthodoxy.

In this second installment in our series on The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today, Jack Wertheimer helps us make sense of the many changes in Jewish denominational life. He looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the major Jewish movements, and gives us insight into the variance between the denominational doctrines and the “folk religion” that Jews actually practice. Wertheimer also ponders what the Jewish movements can continue to contribute to Jewish life in our age of declining allegiance to institutions.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Wertheimer_Podcast_2_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:58pm EST

There is probably no character in Jewish fiction more well known than Tevye the Dairyman. Fiddler on the Roof is one of the best known and most widely performed musicals of all time, and the film adaptation is the quintessential portrayal of shtetl life in American cinema.

But long before he sang his way into the hearts of theatergoers around the globe, Tevye was the protagonist of the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem’s most important short stories. At turns comedic, tragic, and wise, Tevye was the character in whom Sholem Aleichem poured the most of himself, and it was Tevye to whom he turned when he felt the urge to comment on the great issues facing the Jews of his day.

Tikvah Distinguished Senior Fellow Ruth Wisse has been teaching the tales of Tevye the Dairyman for decades, and she recently released a free online course that brings her lifetime of learning to computer screens everywhere. This week, we are rebroadcasting a conversation between Professor Wisse and Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen that takes a close look at the second story in the Tevye series, “Tevye Blows a Small Fortune.” They explore the character and values of Tevye and ask what this country Jew can teach us about rootedness, tradition, and faith.

If you enjoy this podcast, you can enroll in Professor Wisse’s free online course on Tevye the Dairyman at Tevye.TikvahFund.org.

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_Tevye_Rebroadcast.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 8:24am EST

21st-century America has seen religious faith buffeted by cultural change, social upheaval, and serious intellectual and moral challenges. American Judaism has not been immune from this broader trend, and Jews across—and outside—the denominational spectrum have tried to adapt to the complexities of modern life. How are Jewish leaders cultivating cultural antibodies to resist the worst of modernity, while at the same time taking advantage of modernity’s new realities? Which strategies are succeeding, and which are failing? And what are the measurements that tell us what is actually working?

These are the questions the eminent historian Jack Wertheimer asks in his indispensable new tour of the Jewish horizon, The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today. And this week, Professor Wertheimer joins the Tikvah Podcast for the first of a multi-part series of discussions on what he has learned about American Jewry.

In this installment, Professor Wertheimer directs our attention to how average Jews—us, in the pews, as opposed to communal leaders or clergy—practice Jewish religious life. He discusses everything from the prevalence of belief in God to how Jews observe holidays and bnei mitzvah. And he takes a look at the Jewish community’s struggle with the deep challenges of our culture’s individualist ethos, as well as the unexpected growth of American Orthodoxy, and much more.

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 the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.

Direct download: Wertheimer_Podcast_I_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:26pm EST

Those of us who care about the success and security of the Jewish state are sensitive to the many military threats Israel faces, from Syria in the north, Iran to the East, and Gaza to the South. But in recent years, some have also drawn our attention to the threat of what is often called “lawfare,” the use of the system of international law in order to damage and delegitimize Israel.

How does lawfare work? Is the threat to Israel as serious as some claim? And what can its use teach us about how friends of Israel ought to relate to the very idea of international law?

These are some of the questions George Mason University’s Jeremy Rabkin tackles in this podcast. Rabkin, author of the recent book Law Without Nations: Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States, makes the case that the threat of lawfare—while real—may not be as serious as some friends of Israel worry. And that while the Jewish state must be vigilant against those who abuse the international legal system for nefarious ends, it can be confident that the real-world practice of war and diplomacy matter far more than the efforts of activists seeking to delegitimize Israel's existence.

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 at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Direct download: Rabkin_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 3:49pm EST

Since 1949, every election in Israel’s history has yielded a governing majority...until now. Though the bloc of right-wing parties emerged from the April 2019 Knesset elections with a clear majority, coalition negotiations fell apart when Avigdor Lieberman, head of the secular rightist Yisrael Beytenu party, made demands regarding the conscription of haredim into the Israel Defense Forces that were unacceptable to the ultra-Orthodox. Israelis will head back to the polls in September, but the key conflicts surrounding the place of the haredim within Israeli society are not going away any time soon.

What are the beliefs driving Lieberman and his supporters? What are the concerns motivating Israel’s ultra-Orthodox? And what does it mean for Israel that its haredi community is at the center of the nation’s latest political brouhaha?

This week, Jonathan Silver is joined by Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, editor of Tikvah’s Israeli journal of haredi thought and ideas, Tzarich Iyun, and one of the most important figures thinking about and helping to shape the future of haredi politics and culture in Israel. They discuss the complicated relationship between the ultra-Orthodox and the IDF, the shifting attitudes toward broader Israeli society among younger haredim, and whether the haredi community needs to craft a new, non-exilic politics dedicated to creating a thriving Jewish state.

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 at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Direct download: Pfeffer_July_2019_Podcast_No_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:58am EST

The question of the relationship between men and women has long vexed Jewish thought and Jewish life. From the complex biblical relationships between figures like Adam and Eve and Jacob and Rachel down to our present-day struggles over the place of Jewish women in family and synagogue life, issues of sex, gender, and power have commanded the attention of traditional Jews as few other things have. And the form these debates have taken within the contemporary Jewish world have been profoundly shaped by a social revolution from outside of Judaism: the modern feminist movement and the sexual revolution that so powerfully challenged cultural norms surrounding sexual and family life.

Now, in the 21st-century, traditionalist and progressive communities alike face a new set of challenges—from the abuses of power highlighted by the #MeToo movement to the decline of marriage and family among many in the West. These challenges force us to ask some fundamental questions: What did the feminist movement get right? And what did it get wrong? Was the sexual revolution good for women? And could seemingly archaic sexual mores actually be the key to healing some of what ails contemporary society?

These are the kinds of questions nationally-syndicated columnist Mona Charen asks in her latest book, Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. In this episode of the Tikvah Podcast, Charen joins Jonathan Silver for a discussion of love, sex, and what feminism got wrong.

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

Would you want to live forever? What would your spouse, your children, your friends mean to you if you knew you would outlive them all? Is our mortality a problem to be solved, or an indispensable ingredient in making life worth living?

These questions have long been debated by philosophers and bioethicists, but they are perhaps best explored though the medium of literature. That's exactly what bestselling novelist Dara Horn does in her latest book, Eternal Life. The book tells the tale of Rachel, a young women living in Roman-occupied Judea, who makes a trade with God: her sick child will live, but she will never die. As Rachel reflects on a lifetime of 45 marriages and hundreds of children, lived in many countries over thousands of years, she tries to understand what makes life worth living, and moves us to ponder the question along with her.

In this podcast, Dara Horn and Jonathan Silver discuss her novel. They explore the ways Eternal Life subverts age-old tropes about immortality in literature, the different ideas Rachel's entertains about the purpose of life, and how the life of this fictional woman who cannot die can help us think more profoundly about living and dying in the real 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.

Direct download: Horn_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:41pm EST

The trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg is perhaps the most (in)famous espionage trial in all American history. While their conviction and execution remain familiar and controversial episodes in the Cold War, the fate of their co-conspirator Morton Sobell is less well-known.

In his Mosaic essay, “The Death of Morton Sobell and the End of the Rosenberg Affair,” author David Evanier digs into the details of Sobell’s life before and after the fall of the Rosenberg ring. As he looks back on this period in American history, Evanier also illuminates what Sobell’s life can tell us about the many Jews who attached themselves to the Communist movement. For while only a tiny number of Jews were Marxists, American Jewish Communists did make up a disproportionate share of the American party—much to the chagrin of their coreligionists.

In this podcast, Evanier joins Tikvah Fund Senior Director Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay. Evanier reviews the details of Sobell’s life—from his birth into “Jewish Communist royalty” to his late-in-life confession, explains how he came to know Sobell personally, and reflects on the beliefs and priorities of those Jews who were drawn to American Communism, even in the midst of the Cold War.

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: Evanier_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:30pm EST

This Friday, the world’s leading economic powers will gather in Osaka, Japan, for the G20 summit, and though it won’t be on the official agenda, the rising tensions between Iran and the United States will loom large over the gathering. Since May, the Islamic Republic has carried out half a dozen acts of sabotage and violence against the U.S. and its allies. What is the story behind Iran’s escalating provocations? Is it looking for war? Is America?

Earlier this week, Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran offered a compelling account of the strategic thinking behind these recent Iranian actions. In “What Iran Is Really Up To,” published in Mosaic, Doran presents compelling evidence that Iran is seeking to sow fear among European governments in the hope that they will pressure the Trump Administration to reinstate two vital waivers that would ensure the continued viability of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This is part of a long game, writes Doran, to revive the Iran Deal and preserve Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb.

In our podcast this week, Michael Doran joins Jonathan Silver to explain his essay and its argument. He discusses why the revoked waivers are so important, why the Iranians believe their strategy will work, and why the biases of European governments and many American Democrats play right into Iranian hands.

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: Doran_June_Iran_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:31pm EST

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since the eminent columnist—and great Jewish conservative—Charles Krauthammer passed away. Krauthammer’s clarity of mind and force of argument were the cornerstone of American conservative commentary, and the sheer breadth of his knowledge and interests made him a truly irreplaceable writer.

Thankfully for those of us who once relied on Krauthammer’s commentary to help us think through the most pressing issues of the day, his son Daniel has lovingly editing his father’s final volume of collected essays, entitled The Point of It All: A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors. Of course, like all of Charles Krauthammer’s writing, this collection spans a huge range of topics, from science, medicine, and bioethics to politics, culture, and history. But in this week’s podcast, Jonathan Silver sits down with Daniel Krauthammer to focus on his father’s Jewish writings. Daniel reflects on his father’s thinking about Israel, faith, and Jewish ideas, and remembers what Charles was like as Jewish father. This conversation is both a meditation on and tribute to Dr. Krauthammer, and we hope you enjoy it.

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: Daniel_Krauthammer_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:32pm EST

On September 6, 2007, shortly after midnight, Israeli fighters advanced on Deir ez-Zour in Syria. Israel often flew into Syria as a warning to President Bashar al-Assad, but this time, there was no warning and no explanation. This was a covert operation, with one goal: to destroy a nuclear reactor being built by North Korea under a tight veil of secrecy in the Syrian desert.

In his latest book, Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power, Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz tells the inside story of how Israel stopped Syria from becoming a global nuclear nightmare. In this week’s podcast, Katz sits down with Tikvah Fund Chairman Roger Hertog to discuss his book. Katz sheds light on the decision-making processes of both the United States and Israel in the run-up to the bombing, explores the sometimes clashing personalities of the players involved in the deliberations over the strike, and reflects on how Israel’s bold decision to bomb the Syrian reactor protected not only the Jewish state, but also the entire 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 “Shining Through the Rain” by Big Score Audio.

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

Direct download: Katz_Podcast_Audio_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:10pm EST

Since the destruction of the Second Temple at the hands of Rome, most Jews, for most of Jewish history, have lived in the Diaspora. What are the survival strategies, built up over centuries, that allowed far-flung Diaspora communities to endure and to remain connected to the broader Jewish people?

In researching her forthcoming book, Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora, Swedish-born journalist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein visited a dozen communities from Iran to Tunisia, Uzbekistan to Siberia, Cuba to Venezuela, to profile Jewish life in small communities around the world. And what she learned about the miracle of Jewish continuity is sure to fascinate and inspire you. In this podcast, Ms. Hernroth-Rothstein joins Jonathan Silver for a conversation about her journeys around the world. You’ll hear about what it was like praying in a synagogue with Tehran’s remaining Jewish community, what she learned speaking with pious Jews of Djerba, and how, while fleeing a warrant for her arrest in Venezuela, she was reminded that wherever Jews find themselves in the world, they are family.

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.

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

Direct download: Annika_Podcast_Fi.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:39pm EST

New York’s legendary Jewish Museum was founded by the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in 1904 with just 26 objects. When it opened to the public in 1947, JTS Chancellor Louis Finkelstein told the New York Times that he hoped the museum’s artifacts would celebrate “the singular beauty of Jewish life, as ordained in the laws of Moses, developed in the Talmud, and embellished in tradition.” Though the museum grew and changed over the decades, its commitment to this fundamentally Jewish—even religious—mission never completely disappeared, even as it waxed and waned.

But the museum’s new permanent exhibition—titled Scenes from the Collection—couldn’t be farther from realizing Chancellor Finklelstein’s ambition. Filled largely with nostalgic kitsch, the exhibit does little more than flatter the shallowest of contemporary cultural prejudices about Jews in Judaism. In Mosaic’s May Essay, Menachem Wecker reviews the exhibit and shows us how and why it went wrong.

This week, Wecker joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss his essay. He reflects on Finkelstein’s hopes for the Jewish Museum, explains what a great exhibition can accomplish, and details why Scenes from the Collection is such a wasted opportunity. 

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: Wecker_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:48pm EST

She was one of only two women to sign the Israel’s Declaration of Independence. She served as Israel’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union, as labor minister, foreign minister, head of the Israeli Labor Party, and the Jewish state’s only female prime minister. After Israel was hit with a surprise attack on Yom Kippur of 1973, she was a rock for the nation. Golda Meir was Israel’s lioness, the mother of her country.

In Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, Francine Klagsbrun tells the story of Golda Meir’s remarkable life—from her childhood in Milwaukee to her time on a kibbutz to her ascent to Israel’s highest office. Klagsbrun shows how Meir’s plainspoken appeals and shrewd political instincts allowed her to build relationships throughout the world, and she takes a look at the darkest moment in Meir’s premiership—the Yom Kippur War—and what, if anything, the prime minister could have done to prevent it.

In this podcast, Klagsbrun sits down with Jonathan Silver to discuss her book and the life and times of Golda Meir. They explore the impact America had on Meir’s worldview, what she thought of American Jews, how she rose through the ranks of her party, and the mistakes and misjudgments that led to the Yom Kippur War.

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: Klagsbrun_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:45am EST

President Donald Trump has moved the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; members of his own family are Jewish and he has forcefully spoken out against anti-Semitic comments by some elected Democrats. So of course, the American Jewish community has embraced him...

Not quite.

Regardless of whether or not this administration has worked on behalf of traditional Jewish interests, many Jews feel strongly that its actions are antithetical to Jewish values. And what are the values of many American Jews? Any answer to that question will inevitably put tikkun olam—the Hebrew term for “repairing the world”—close to the top of the list. Last year, Jonathan Neumann wrote To Heal the World?, which attempted to deconstruct what tikkun olam means in practice, and debunk the lazy but all-too-common perception that Jewish values and progressive politics are one and the same. (You can listen to Neumann discuss his book here.)

In this podcast, Neumann joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver for a discussion about conservatism, liberalism, and Jewish politics. He looks at the dangerous rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom, explains the causes of Israel’s shift to the Right, and systematically exposes the why American Jews’ traditional progressivism is bad for Jewish religion, Jewish peoplehood, and the Jewish state.

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 at the Tikvah Center in New York City.

Direct download: Neumann_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 4:16pm EST

Long before the Mossad became known as one of the world’s greatest intelligence agencies; before the capture of Eichmann and the raid of Iran’s nuclear archive; before Eli Cohen and Rafi Eitan; before Fauda captured audiences around the world, Israel’s first spies were dispatched to Beirut without so much as a radio to contact home. In the spring on 1948, before the State of Israel had even been declared, a handful of young Mizrahi Jews were recruited to serve in the Palmach’s Arab Section and charged with going undercover among the Arab population of Palestine and neighboring countries. Sent back into the Arab lands they had left behind, these brave Jews risked their lives to become spies for a country that was yet to be born.

In Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, journalist and author Matti Friedman tells the story of these mista'aravim, Jews who went uncover as Arabs. Focusing on the lives of four of these men, Friedman transports us back to a world without a State of Israel or an IDF, where the fate of Palestine’s Jews remained uncertain and the project of Jewish statehood hung in the balance. This was the world of Israel’s first spies, the unsung heroes of the nation’s founding.

In this podcast, Matti Friedman joins Jonathan Silver to talk about his new book. They discuss the challenges and risks the spies faced while undercover, the complex identities of these Mizrahi Jews who had to pose as Arabs, and the importance of telling the stories of these Jewish heroes from Middle Eastern lands.

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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

Direct download: Friedman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:17am EST

On April 27, 2019, the last day of Passover, a vicious anti-Semite entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue and started shooting. Before being stopped, he murdered one worshipper and injured several others, including the congregation’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein.

Speaking to the press after the attack, Rabbi Goldstein said something truly remarkable. In the wake of the chaos and violence swirling around him, this hasidic rabbi suggested that a national response to the shooting should include establishing a daily moment of silence in American public schools in which “children can start the day pausing and thinking, 'Why am I created? Why am I here? And what am I going to do?’”

In making his unconventional suggestion, Rabbi Goldstein was echoing Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. In the 1980s—in the shadow of high crime rates and the attempted assassination of President Reagan—the Lubavitcher Rebbe launched a campaign to have American schools, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, begin their days with just such a moment of silence.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Rabbi Dovid Margolin, associate editor at Chabad.org, to discuss the Rebbe’s campaign. Rabbi Margolin reminds us of the broader context of the times, explores the Rebbe’s conviction that Jewish ideas can help improve American society, and explains why the Rebbe believed that something as simple as a brief moment of reflection for schoolchildren could influence hearts and minds for the better.

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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

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

It was just a few years ago that the so-called “New Atheists” played an outsized role in American culture. Scientists like Richard Dawkins and polemicists like the late Christopher Hitchens wrote page after page lambasting faith as not only illogical, but also immoral and destructive. When Scott Shay—founder of a successful bank and an observant Jew—realized how much purchase their arguments had on his friends and colleagues, he decided it was time to explore this “New Atheism,” investigate its arguments, and refute it.

In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism, is the product of Shay’s efforts. The book is incredibly ambitious, tackling everything from the true meaning of the Bible to the proper relationship between faith and science. But perhaps its most interesting insights are on the topic of idolatry and how this scourge of biblical Israel continues to manifest itself today—albeit in a very different guise.

In this podcast, Shay joins Tikvah Fund Senior Director Jonathan Silver for a discussion of his book and the nature of idolatry. Shay describes what motivated him to engage with the arguments of the New Atheists and offers his thoughts on everything from pagan religion to the perils of tribalism in America. As he does so, Shay helps us see how that the temptation of idolatry did not disappear with the ancient world but persists as part of human nature 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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

Direct download: Shay_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:03pm EST

In just over a week, Jews the world over will recount the biblical story of the exodus from Egypt and celebrate ancient Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom. But is there any proof for the Bible’s account of the events surrounding the exodus? Did the exodus really happen?

The answer of most contemporary academic Bible scholars is “no.” Pointing to the lack of any corroborating written records and the absence of archaeological evidence, these scholars assert that there is simply no proof for the scriptural account. However, in his 2015 Mosaic essay, “Was There an Exodus?,” rabbi and academic Bible scholar Joshua Berman reviews the data and comes to a very different conclusion. His piece reveals Egyptological and scriptural sources that indicate the author and audience of the Book of Exodus possessed detailed knowledge of Egypt, and he argues that this evidence is far too salient to be ignored.

In this pre-Passover podcast, Rabbi Dr. Berman joins Jonathan Silver to make the case for the historicity of the exodus. They discuss why scholars began to doubt the biblical account, the comparative evidence that points to the historical reality of the exodus, and how a greater understanding of what history meant in antiquity can help us moderns become better readers of ancient texts.

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: Joshua_Berman_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

The occupation. The Western Wall. The nation-state Law. The warm bonhomie between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. The rift between American and Israeli Jews grows daily. How did this happen? Wasn’t Israel an issue of consensus in the American Jewish community until just recently? Wasn’t Israel the rare cause that could unite Jews across the political and denominational spectrum?

Against the conventional wisdom, Daniel Gordis of Shalem College believes that this growing divide is decidedly not about what Israel does. It is, rather, about what Israel is. In a series of insightful articles as well as a forthcoming book, Gordis argues that the two largest Jewish communities in the world are animated by different attitudes about the purpose of Jewish life, and what it takes for the Jews to prosper. And these more fundamental differences, not the policies of the Netanyahu government or the Chief Rabbinate, are the true cause of the widening rift between the Jews of Israel and the United States.

In this podcast, Daniel Gordis and Jonathan Silver sit down for a discussion about the complex relationship between American and Israeli Jews. They review the long history of American Jewish ambivalence toward Zionism, explore the different theories that motivate the Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel, and try to define what it means to be a Zionist living 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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

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

In February 2019, after a protracted legislative battle over funding his long-promised wall, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border of the United States. The legality of this proclamation will be hashed out in the courts, but even the Trump Administration’s opponents agree that the immigration system is in sore need of reform.

At the heart of our immigration debate is a distinction between “refugees” fleeing persecution, and “migrants” seeking new opportunities in the United States. Nicholas Gallagher proposes in Mosaic’s March 2019 essay that Jewish history can help explain why these categories no longer serve our policy debate. Viewing America’s current predicament through the lens of the Jewish immigrant experience, Gallagher’s essay illuminates the messy realities of human migration and helps clarify the difficult questions before America’s leaders.

In this podcast, Gallagher sits down with Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver for a conversation about his piece. They explore the varied causes of historical Jewish migration, the difficulty inherent in applying legal categories to complex human realities, and how a fuller understanding of the Jewish immigrant experience can point the way toward clarity in confronting America’s immigration mess.

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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

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

On February 5, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed Elan Carr as the Trump Administration’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. Created 15 years ago by President George W. Bush, the position of Special Envoy is charged with developing and implementing America’s policy to fight anti-Semitism at home and abroad. Carr—a veteran of the Iraq War, JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, and former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County—comes to his position during a time of rising hatred against Jews within America and around the globe.

In this podcast, Special Envoy Carr sits down with Tikvah Fund Senior Director Jonathan Silver to discuss his office’s efforts to fight Jew-hatred. He recalls the family history that drives his fight against anti-Semitism, explores the trends—positive and negative—he sees across the globe, and makes the case for why fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms—including anti-Zionism—is vital for the health of any 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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

Direct download: Carr_Podcast_FI_v2.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:32am EST

On any given day, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across America, that number is only growing. Thousands upon thousands of American children are crying out for the stability and care that comes from living in families, and yet, many American families who want to adopt turn overseas rather than adopting a child born domestically.

Malka Groden and her husband made a different choice. Born and raised in the Lubavitch hasidic community, Malka always planned to have a large biological family. But when infertility treatments failed, the Grodens learned about the complex realities of adoption and made the decision to become the parents of an American child in need of a loving home. Today, Malka is the mother of an adopted son and daughter and a passionate advocate for domestic adoption. She believes that the family culture nurtured in traditional Jewish communities is a gift that we can give to the United States.

In this podcast, Malka joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss her journey toward domestic adoption. She tells her personal story, explains the unique challenges she faced pursuing adoption within her Orthodox community, and explores how her Judaism moved her to become an adoption advocate within the Jewish 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 “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

Direct download: Groden_podcast_FINAL.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 1:10pm EST

The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 was the very first piece of Senate legislation introduced in the 116th Congress. Sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the bill tackles a wide range of foreign policy issues. But the parts of the bill that have generated the most heated controversy are the provisions that deal with the BDS movement, the campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction the Jewish State. The federal legislation affirms that the 26 state-level anti-BDS laws currently on the books are consistent with federal policy. These laws do not ban companies from boycotting Israel, but they do prevent the state from contracting with companies that discriminate against Israeli businesses.

Though the federal bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, it has yet to pass the House of Representatives, and it continues to draw opposition from groups that claim anti-BDS laws violate free speech and are constitutionally suspect. In this week’s podcast, Kohelet Policy Forum Director and George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich joins Jonathan Silver to discuss the complex legal landscape of BDS legislation. Kontorovich, who played a role in drafting some state-level anti-BDS laws, guides us through the relevant laws at both the federal and state level and clarifies exactly how they work. Through thoughtful comparisons with past efforts to boycott apartheid South Africa as well as combat discrimination against the LGBT community, Kontorovich demonstrates that anti-BDS laws are not only technically legal, but also just.

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: Kontorovich_BDS_Podcast_FI.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:48am EST