From Left to Right…and Every­thing in Between: The Impor­tance of Jew­ish Polit­i­cal Diversity

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


In part­ner­ship with Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, Natan Fund, and Shalom Hart­man Insti­tute of North America

*View the Record­ing on Face­book or YouTube.*

Pol­i­tics seems to be invad­ing our lives at every turn. Media and social media polar­ize us, fram­ing debates as us vs them,” right vs left,” and even good vs evil.” And while it’s com­fort­ing (and increas­ing­ly easy) to talk to only like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als, mak­ing room for dif­fer­ing opin­ions – ones that are based on care­ful and informed con­sid­er­a­tion – is essen­tial to an open, healthy soci­ety. This is true among Amer­i­can Jews no less than among any oth­er Amer­i­cans, as con­ver­sa­tions about the need for diver­si­ty” increas­ing­ly seem to ignore the real­i­ty of polit­i­cal diversity.

Join Natan Fund, Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, and Shalom Hart­man Insti­tute of North Amer­i­ca for what promis­es to be a fas­ci­nat­ing dive into this thorny issue. Dr. Nan­cy Sinkoff, win­ner of the Fall 2020 Natan Notable Book Award for her book From Left to Right: Lucy S. Daw­id­ow­icz, the New York Intel­lec­tu­als, and the Pol­i­tics of Jew­ish His­to­ry, which explores the polit­i­cal evo­lu­tion of 20th-cen­tu­ry his­to­ri­an Lucy S. Daw­id­ow­icz, who moved from iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with com­mu­nism to neo-con­ser­vatism, will be in con­ver­sa­tion with Dr. Yehu­da Kurtzer, Pres­i­dent of the Shalom Hart­man Insti­tute of North Amer­i­ca, a lead­ing thinker, teacher, and com­men­ta­tor on a mul­ti­tude of issues fac­ing Jews today.


Nan­cy Sinkoff is Pro­fes­sor of Jew­ish Stud­ies and His­to­ry and the Aca­d­e­m­ic Direc­tor of the Allen and Joan Bild­ner Cen­ter for the Study of Jew­ish Life at Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty. She is author, most recent­ly, of From Left to Right: Lucy S. Daw­id­ow­icz, the New York Intel­lec­tu­als, and the Pol­i­tics of Jew­ish His­to­ry (2020), the win­ner of the fall 2020 Natan Notable Book award, and the co-edit­ed vol­ume (with Rebec­ca Cypess), Sara Levy’s World: Gen­der, Judaism, and the Bach Tra­di­tion in Enlight­en­ment Berlin (2018), win­ner of the out­stand­ing book prize from the Jew­ish Stud­ies and Music Study Group of the Amer­i­can Musi­co­log­i­cal Soci­ety. Her first book, Out of the Shtetl: Mak­ing Jews Mod­ern in the Pol­ish Bor­der­lands, has recent­ly been reis­sued dig­i­tal­ly with a new pref­ace (Brown Juda­ic Stud­ies, 2020). Its pro­tag­o­nist, Mendel Lefin of Satanów, is part of the core exhib­it, Encoun­ters with Moder­ni­ty,” in Polin: Muse­um of the His­to­ry of Pol­ish Jews in War­saw, on which Pro­fes­sor Sinkoff consulted.

Pro­fes­sor Sinkoff is a recip­i­ent of numer­ous fel­low­ships, includ­ing those from the Mel­lon Foun­da­tion, the IIE Ful­bright Asso­ci­a­tion, the Amer­i­can Coun­cil of Learned Soci­eties, the Nation­al Foun­da­tion for Jew­ish Cul­ture, the Cen­ter for Advanced Juda­ic Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia, Yale University’s Bei­necke Library, the Frankel Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Archives in Cincin­nati, and the USC Shoah Foun­da­tion. In 2016 – 2017, she was the Eliz­a­beth J. Dil­worth Fel­low in His­tor­i­cal Stud­ies at the Insti­tute for Advanced Study, Prince­ton, NJ.

Dr. Yehu­da Kurtzer is the Pres­i­dent of the Shalom Hart­man Insti­tute of North Amer­i­ca. Yehu­da is a lead­ing thinker and author on the mean­ing of Israel to Amer­i­can Jews, on Jew­ish his­to­ry and Jew­ish mem­o­ry, and on ques­tions of lead­er­ship and change in Amer­i­can Jew­ish life. He is the author of Shu­va: The Future of the Jew­ish Past, which offers new think­ing to con­tem­po­rary Jews on nav­i­gat­ing the ten­sions between his­to­ry and mem­o­ry; and the co-edi­tor of The New Jew­ish Canon, a col­lec­tion of the most sig­nif­i­cant Jew­ish ideas and debates of the past two gen­er­a­tions. He is also the host of Hartman’s Identity/​Crisis pod­cast which can be found at iden​ti​ty​cri​sis​pod​.com.


Jew­ish Book Coun­cil is non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that edu­cates and enrich­es the com­mu­ni­ty through Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. Found­ed in 1944, Jew­ish Book Coun­cil is the longest-run­n­ing orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed exclu­sive­ly to the sup­port and cel­e­bra­tion of Jew­ish literature.

Natan Fund is a giv­ing cir­cle — a grant­mak­ing foun­da­tion where mem­bers pool their char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions, set the group’s phil­an­thropic strat­e­gy and agen­da, and col­lec­tive­ly award grants to emerg­ing ini­tia­tives, work­ing active­ly with their lead­ers to help them grow. 

Shalom Hart­man Insti­tute is a lead­ing cen­ter of Jew­ish thought and edu­ca­tion, serv­ing Israel and North Amer­i­ca. Our mis­sion is to strength­en Jew­ish peo­ple­hood, iden­ti­ty, and plu­ral­ism; to enhance the Jew­ish and demo­c­ra­t­ic char­ac­ter of Israel; and to ensure that Judaism is a com­pelling force for good in the 21st century.