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As part of the advanced institute on “Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Jews,” Tikvah hosted the legendary editor of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz has been a partisan of the left, the right, and, most of all, the Jews. In an interview with Tikvah’s executive director Eric Cohen, Podhoretz discussed his life’s work and his ideological transformation.

Watch here.

Burkean Zionism?

July 14, 2014

In a discussion of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Tikvah executive director Eric Cohen wonders how modern Zionism relates to the principles of Burkean conservatism. In a time of severe insecurity—like many Jews found themselves at the end of the 19th century—what would Burke have counseled? According to Cohen, the answer is neither pious […]

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During our Advanced Institute, The Future of the Israeli Economy, we were honored to have Ambassador Ron Demer join us. Dermer, a close adviser for many years to Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Prime Minister’s role in enacting free market reforms and other policies that have promoted exceptional growth. He also discussed both the moral case for capitalism and the relationship of the free market to Jewish values. Watch Ambassador Dermer’s speech to the institute participants here.

Watch the video here.

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.

Nineteenth century political emancipation brought citizenship rights to European Jews. In How Judaism Became a Religion, Leora Batnitzky explores how this new political reality affected Jewish philosophy and the Jewish people. The prospect of secular citizenship challenged Judaism’s premodern integrity, and drove Jewish writers, intellectuals, and rabbis to grapple with how to recast Judaism as a “religion,” emphasizing its private faith over its national call to public practice. The transformation of Judaism as a religion – and reactions to it – is the driving question of modern Jewish thought to this day. What does Judaism gain and lose as a religion? What effects, positive and negative, has this modern transformation yielded? How does conceiving of Judaism as a religion relate to Zionism and the refounding of a Jewish State for the Jewish People?

Watch as Leora Batnitzky, Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of Religion, and Chair of the Department of Religion at Princeton University, discusses the intellectuals who recast Judaism as a modern religion, those that opposed the change, and the legacy of modern Jewish thought today. The event was recorded before a live audience on February 20, 2014 at the Tikvah Center in New York City. For information on other upcoming Tikvah events, please check our Events page.

Watch the event here.

In the Valley of the Dry Bones

February 13, 2014

Americans marked the birthday of the Sixteenth President of the United States yesterday, Abraham Lincoln. In honor of this, we share here a recent scholarly article by Matthew Holbreich of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and Danilo Petranovich of the Center for the Study of Representative Institutions at Yale. Based on a close reading of some of Lincoln’s most well-known speeches, the authors make two main arguments: First, Lincoln was a radical opponent of the institution of slavery throughout his life and, second, “It was Lincoln, perhaps more than anyone else, who recognized the power of Biblical narrative as a metaphor for America.” In particular, Biblical themes like covenant, purification, sacrifice, and rebirth were vital in shaping Lincoln’s thought and vision for America in its most troubled hour.

Read the full article here.

Catholic Israel? Hardly...

February 11, 2014

A dilemma: What do you do when the categories in which you are accustomed to think already commit you to certain conclusions – conclusions  that, when stated explicitly, you are inclined to resist? Such a dilemma is at the heart of Professor Leora Batnitzky’s illuminating and erudite study of modern Jewish thought, entitled How Judaism Became a Religion. It is also suggested by the title of a review by Professor Michah Gottlieb, published in Summer 2012 in the Jewish Review of  Books: “Are We all Protestants Now?” Rav Kook? Solomon Maimon? Rabbi Soloveitchik? The Ba’al Shem Tov? … Protestants, all?

Peruse Professor Gottlieb’s summary and critique of the argument here and then join us at the Tikvah Center on February 20th for a discussion with Professor Batnitzky of the book and of its implications for dilemmas facing the Jewish people today. RSVP for that event through this website, while seats still remain.

Read the full essay here.

Dr. Yuval Levin, Editor of National Affairs and a former domestic policy advisor to President George W. Bush,  has an idea about the fundamental commitments that lay beneath the policy issues that divide liberals and conservatives.  He has developed this idea into a recent book entitled The Great Debate, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right.  Dr. Levin will present and be challenged on his ideas at an event at the Tikvah Center on February 13, 2014. The event is open to the public but requires all who attend to RSVP through our website here.

Dr. Levin will also be one of the instructors in a Tikvah Advanced Institute on Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Jews, which takes place in May 12 – May 23, 2014. Applications for this and other Advanced Institutes are open until February 15th.  Tikvah’s Eric Cohen interviewed Dr. Levin in Washington DC last week.

You can listen to the audio 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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The novelist Saul Bellow is fond of recalling a political incident from his youth. Saul, then an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, was, like so many of us in the 1930s, powerfully attracted to the ideologies of socialism, Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism, as well as to the idea of “the Revolution.” He and a […]

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