The Tikvah Podcast

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

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

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

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

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