Tikkun (magazine)

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January/February 2007 issue
EditorMichael Lerner
PublisherDuke University Press
Year founded 1986 (1986-month)
CountryUnited States
Based inBerkeley, California

Tikkun is a quarterly interfaith Jewish left-progressive magazine and website, published in the United States, that analyzes American and Israeli culture, politics, religion, and history in the English language. The magazine has consistently published the work of Israeli and Palestinian left-wing intellectuals, but also included book and music reviews, personal essays, and poetry. In 2006 and 2011, the magazine was awarded the Independent Press Award for Best Spiritual Coverage by Utne Reader[2][3] for its analysis of the inability of many progressives to understand people's yearning for faith, and the American fundamentalists' political influence on the international conflict among religious zealots. The magazine was founded in 1986[4][5] by Michael Lerner and his then-wife Nan Fink Gefen. Since 2012, its publisher is Duke University Press. Beyt Tikkun Synagogue, led by Rabbi Michael Lerner, is loosely affiliated with Tikkun magazine. It describes itself as a "hallachic community bound by Jewish law".[6]

Origin and meaning of the name[edit]

The magazine's title comes from mystical Hebrew concept tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם‎; "healing or restoring the world"), emphasizing both humanity's and God's co-responsibility "to heal, repair and transform the world".

In her book, If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews, Ruth Wisse argues that Tikkun is one of a group of left-of-center Jewish organizations and publications founded in the 1980s without explaining why a new, Jewish was needed to cover issues already covered by such existing publications as Dissent. Wisse argues that the actual motivation was a need felt by highly educated Jews to counter rising antisemitism on the left by means of "public avowals of kindliness and liberalism."[7]


Initially, Nan Fink Gefen, at the time married to Lerner, devoted financial resources and served as a hands-on publisher until she left as their marriage ended in 1991.[citation needed] In 1997 a fellow 1960s-activist Danny Goldberg, a major music industry figure heavily involved in the ACLU, became co-publisher with his father, Victor. During these years, prominent journalists such as Jack Newfield interviewed national and international leaders such as Mario Cuomo and Haiti's embattled President Aristide to bring more credibility to the growing influence of the magazine. From 2002 through 2011, Lerner's sister, Trish Vradenburg, and her husband served as co-publishers.[citation needed]

Editorial policy[edit]

Founded in 1986, the magazine's editorial policy was shaped by Nan Fink Gefen, Michael Lerner, and Peter Gabel. According to the founding editorial statement,[8] political concerns of the 1960s civil rights, anti-war, and feminist movements and psychological studies of workers in the 1970s and 1980s were their most direct influences. Among authors who contributed to the magazine's interfaith character were the historian Christopher Lasch, philosopher Cornel West, and Harvey Cox of Harvard Divinity School.

Obliquely confronting more conservative American Jewish community's Commentary Magazine, which caused some members of the Editorial Board, including Elie Wiesel, to resign,[citation needed] the magazine introduced itself with prominent ads placed in leading intellectual papers and journals declaring a new voice for the Jewish Left. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's legacy of "prophetic" Jewish activism has been honored and analyzed from the first issue onward. In every issue, it is stated that its articles "do not necessarily reflect Tikkun's position on any issue",[9] and its editor, Rabbi Michael Lerner, has written that he "often consciously seeks to print articles with which he disagrees".[10]

Network of Spiritual Progressives[edit]

In 2001 the magazine's interfaith activist community's website, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, initially named differently, was established by founders that include Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, and Cornel West, a Princeton University professor of religion, in order to engage readers in broader activism and broaden the magazine's appeal to non-Jewish readers.[citation needed] Challenging the anti-religious and anti-spiritual biases within liberal culture and "replacing world domination with generosity" are among the ideas that are supported by the community.


Accusations of Anti-Semitism[edit]

In 2005 Manfred Gerstenfeld cited an article published by TikkunJoel Kovel’s "On Left Anti-Semitism and the Special Status of Israel" (May/June 2003) — as one of two examples of "essays of Jewish authors using anti-Semitic arguments".[11] In his article, Kovel described Israel as a racist state that "automatically generates crimes against humanity and lacks the internal means of correcting them", adding that such a state "cannot have that legitimacy which gives it the right to exist".[12]

In a 2006 column, Alan Dershowitz wrote that "Tikkun is quickly becoming the most virulently anti-Israel screed ever published under Jewish auspices" and that "support for Tikkun is support for the enemies of Israel".[13] Dershowitz and his books have been the targets of criticism in the pages of Tikkun (for example: May/June 1997, September/October 1997, November/December 1997, January/February 1999).

Improprieties regarding Letters to the editor[edit]

In 1997 former Tikkun editors accused Lerner of publishing pseudonymous letters to the editor that he himself had written. While many of the letters were laudatory ("Your editorial stand on Iraq said publicly what many of us in the Israeli peace camp are feeling privately but dare not say."), a few were critical ("Have you gone off your rocker?"). Lerner admitted that he had written the letters but said his only mistake was not informing readers that the authors' names were pseudonyms.[14]


  1. ^ Jonathan Mark (March 14, 2011). "A Liberal Lion In Autumn". Jewish Week. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. ^ "Spiritual Coverage: Tikkun". Utne Reader. January–February 2007. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2016. In November, Rabbi Michael Lerner's erudite rejoinder to the religious right released Tikkun Reader: Twentieth Anniversary (Rowman & Littlefield) to showcase memorable essays from the bimonthly magazine's all-star cast of contributors
  3. ^ "Winners of the 2011 Utne Independent Press Awards". Utne Reader. April 12, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2016. Illuminated by the Jewish faith but accessible to all, Tikkun aims to 'mend, repair and transform the world'
  4. ^ Joseph Berger (December 21, 1986). "New Liberal Jewish Magazine Aims Fire at Commentary and Stirs Internal Protests". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  5. ^ Steve Black (2009). "Life spans of Library Journal's "Best Magazines of the Year"". Serials Review. 35 (4): 213–217. doi:10.1080/00987913.2009.10765248.
  6. ^ "Founding Perspective" (PDF). Beyt Tikkun. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
  7. ^ Wisse, Ruth (1992). If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews, pp. 29 ff. Free Press.
  8. ^ Tikkun 5 Year Anthology edited by Michael Lerner. Tikkun Books. 1992. ISBN 978-0935933031.
  9. ^ "Disclaimer". Tikkun. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Ask the Rabbi". Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  11. ^ Gerstenfeld, Manfred (March 1, 2005). "Jews against Israel". Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  12. ^ Joel Kovel (May–June 2003). "On Left anti-Semitism and the Special Status of Israel". Tikkun. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  13. ^ Alan Dershowitz (October 20, 2006). "The accusation: 'Moral pervert' hit piece shouldn't have been spread". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  14. ^ Leslie Katz (March 21, 1997). "Tikkun editor calls letter-writing policy 'a mistake'". Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved September 30, 2010.

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