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In this classic 1897 essay by Ahad Ha’am—pen name of Asher Ginsberg—the early Zionist thinker provides an analysis of the material and moral conditions of Eastern and Western Jews and calls for a renaissance of the Jewish spirit and Jewish culture. The strongest reason for Zionism is not economic but moral. Ahad Ha’am stresses the […]

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Is Israel’s Jewish identity in tension with its democratic character? Critics of Israel claim that the Jewish state sacrifices its democratic aspirations in order to preserve its distinctive Jewish mission. In this article from 2010, Israeli law scholar and former Knesset member Amnon Rubinstein concedes that Israel’s liberal democracy would be enhanced by strengthening its […]

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Why are Jews socialists? Nobel laureate Milton Friedman set out to explore this question in a 1972 lecture before the Mont Pelerin Society. “Jews owe an enormous debt to free enterprise and competitive capitalism,” Friedman said. And yet, “Jews have been consistently opposed to capitalism and have done much on an ideological level to undermine […]

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Does Bible Criticism leave room for faith? Noted Bible scholar Jon Levenson points out in this 1993 First Things article that the purely secular, critical approach to the Bible of many academics suffers from the same faults as does the fundamentalist religious approach: both ultimately rely on their own uncriticized values and assumptions. Pluralism and […]

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Press play below to listen to the podcast, download it in the iTunes Store, or stream it via Stitcher.  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 and America and that analyze the challenges of the Middle […]

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Tribe and Family

July 13, 2016 | By: Isaiah Rackovsky

Writing in Tradition in 1965, Rabbi Isaiah Rackovsky explores the tension between the institution of the family, which serves as the foundation of the Jewish way of life, and modernity, its ideas and political institutions. Judaism sets the framework for cultural transmission by imparting a duty on parents to educate their children and commanding children […]

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Writing in 1994, Irving Kristol warns about the demographic problems facing American Jews. By the mid-nineties, the American Jewish community was pursuing a path to assimilation through low birth rates and intermarriage. Both phenomena, Kristol argues, were not failures of Jewish communal policy, but instead the unanticipated consequences of its success. For years, championing the […]

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The State of Israel

July 11, 2016 | By: Leo Strauss

While today Israel enjoys wide support on both sides of the American political aisle, this was not always the case. Late in 1956 the eminent political theorist Leo Strauss took the unusual step of commenting on contemporary political affairs to come to Israel’s defense. Strauss was moved to write by attacks against the nascent Jewish state […]

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What is the Jewish understanding of economic justice? Many Jews assume it is one in which property rights are limited for the purpose of redistributing wealth and lessening the economic gap between rich and poor. Indeed, Jewish thinkers have been some of the chief proponents of socialism since its inception, and socialist economic policy was […]

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Understanding the human condition, the essential qualities that make us who we are, shapes how we think about our purpose as men and women created in the image of God.  Searching for distinctive characteristics that separate the human animal from all others, philosophers have proposed that man is an acquisitive animal, a social animal, a […]

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