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The shtetls were not farming villages; they were merchant towns. Nor were the shtetls Jewish ghettos. Rather, Jews made up half the population. The popular image derived in large part from “Fiddler on the Roof” is romanticized and wrong. Fortunately, a recent book, The Golden Age Shtetl by Yonahan Petrovsky-Shtern, puts these myths to rest by […]

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What is the proper relationship between Jews and political power? To what extent should Jews eschew worldly power for the sake of piety? How Machiavellian can Jews allow themselves to be? Two of the Jewish world’s most esteemed intellectuals, Ruth Wisse and Moshe Halbertal, examined these questions for participants in the Tikvah Fund’s Summer Fellowship […]

Watch here.

To begin a close reading of one of Karl Marx’s most important early works, “On the Jewish Question”, Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz identified two kinds of emancipation Marx is concerned with. The first is political emancipation, or liberal democracy. But Marx sees that kind of freedom as insufficient; what is needed is “human emancipation.”

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Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a resolution condemning Israel for, among other libels, “the targeting of civilians.” The resolution never once mentioned “Hamas.” As is so often the case with absurd resolutions against Israel, the United States was the only nation to vote “no.” Why have the European capitals turned against […]

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European Anti-Semitism

July 24, 2014

Israeli operations against Hamas have coincided with a surge in anti-Jewish protests and riots in European capitals. French mobs have attacked nine synagogues—including trapping dozens in Paris’s Synagogue de la Roquette for hours—and looted kosher butcheries and Jewish-owned stores. Especially chilling given the location, a Berlin crowd was filmed chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on […]

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Lord Acton famously proposed that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In Jews and Power, Ruth Wisse provides an analysis of Jewish history that suggests the exact opposite.

Join us at 5:30PM to reconsider Jews and Power with its author, Professor Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

Watch the event stream here.

One winter after an unusually heavy run of funerals, the rabbi of our Montreal synagogue reminded the congregation that in traditional Judaism, dying was only a minhag (custom); it was not a mitzva. I would like to extend this excellent observation to political catastrophe, which is likewise not a Jewish obligation. Like many other Jews […]

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Zionist Politics Revisited

December 1, 2013

From 1996 to 2012, the Tikvah Fund, under the auspices of the Shalem Center, published Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation. The Tikvah Forum will be a place to rediscover some of the excellent content from that magazine. In this Azure piece from Summer 2005, Natan Sharansky argues in favor of Theodor Herzl’s vision of a state that enables its various communities to give voice to their unique heritage and culture, on the one hand, but carefully preserves their shared Judaism on the other.

At the Tikvah Center, we just completed a study of various aspects of Herzl’s thought and legacy in a week long course taught by Allan Arkush and Ran Baratz entitled “Herzl, His Critics and His Successors.” This course is part of the Advanced Institute entitled “Moments of Decision, Great Debates.” Stay up to date on more institutes and events that explore the roots of Zionism and their impact on the current dilemmas of the Jewish State.

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