Grantee in the News | Apr 2024

American Judaism’s ‘golden age’ isn’t over yet, says Shalom Hartman’s Yehuda Kurtzer at UC Berkeley

Originally published in The Jewish News of Northern California

Yehuda Kurtzer (left), president of the Shalom Hartman Institute in New York, speaks alongside Ken Bamberger, law professor at UC Berkeley and co-director of the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, at UC Berkeley on April 4. (Photo/Courtesy Laura Turbow)


Yehuda Kurtzer thinks constantly and creatively about American Judaism.

It’s part of his job as president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank that promotes pluralism and democracy in Israel and North America. And on April 3, the prolific speaker and former Brandeis University professor appeared at UC Berkeley to deliver “Our Golden Age: American Judaism, in Transition,” a lecture sponsored by the Helen Diller Institute of Jewish Law and Israel Studies.

His message, unlike that of some, is optimistic — not in the sense that all is well, but in an eyes-wide-open approach that recognizes the “magnificence” of the community that American Jews have created, while pledging to keep working toward the promise of this country.

“American Jews have built a magnificent Jewish community that has enjoyed greater affluence, influence, power and privilege than any other Jewish community in history, with the possible exception of the Jewish community in contemporary Israel,” Kurtzer said. “We have been involved, not always consciously, in the creation of a remarkable Judaism, one that will remain a major contribution to the history of our people.”

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