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August 20, 2018 9:07 am

A Conversation About Tikkun Olam and Its Discontents

avatar by Benjamin Weingarten

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Members of the extreme left anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace. Photo: NGO Monitor.

The question of why non-Orthodox American Jews tend to be disproportionately progressive politically has occupied the thoughts of intellectuals and pundits, both Jewish and Gentile, for decades.

In a conversation with Jonathan Neumann — author of the new book To Heal the World — for the Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, we seek to answer this question once and for all.

During the interview, we explore Neumann’s thesis that, for non-Orthodox Jews, Leftism has supplanted religion under the guise of a not only exaggerated but wholly unjustifiable interpretation of the concept of tikkun olam — to the great detriment of Judaism, the Jewish people, and Israel.

Specifically, we touch on:

  • Tikkun olam and its link to social justice, Leftism, and Kantian ethics.
  • How tikkun olam became the predominant ethos of non-Orthodox Jewry in the US in a mere 40 year period — and its radical roots.
  • The inextricable link between tikkun olam theology and the evolution of the Reform Jewish movement and its relation to the Social Gospel.
  • The perversion of Jewish values and principles by those who have supplanted the religion with Leftism — based in a textually unsupported, fabricated concept of tikkun olam that Neumann systematically debunks.
  • Why Neumann argues that “Jewish social justice effectively has no need for Jews qua Jews.”
  • The correlation between tikkun olam ideology and anti-Zionism, in contrast to American Jewish Leftism’s historical affinity toward Israel.
  • Why and how Israel in US politics has become effectively a one-party, Republican issue — and the conflicting trends of the growing Orthodox Jewish community and the declining non-Orthodox Jewish community.
  • Why Jews have historically gravitated toward the political left.

You can listen to our conversation below:

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