“I was always proud to be Jewish,” says French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. “I always believed it was a source of glory, never anything to question or be ashamed of.”
The hugely influential, provocative, and oft-controversial thinker was one of the founders of the New Philosophers, who criticized the far left beginning in the 1970s, and has become famous for his humanitarian work in areas like Bosnia, Sudan, Libya, and Kurdistan. His is also one of the most prominent pro-Israel voices in an often-hostile Europe.
“My relationship to Judaism is the most important thread of my life as a committed intellectual,” he says, and in 2017, his magnum opus on the subject, “The Genius of Judaism” was published in English.
In it, he advocates an “affirmational Judaism” based in positive action and profound contemplation, saying, “When Gaon of Vilnius had to choose between a lazy student who believes and an ardent, vibrant student who doubts, he says that he prefers the second. So do I.” (Photo credit: Screenshot.)