views updated


TIKKUN , a Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture, and Society, emerged in the late 20th century as the U.S. leading Jewish leftist magazine. Under the editorial stewardship of Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun magazine serves as the literary centerpiece of a larger movement for Jewish social activism and Judaic spiritual renewal. Fashioned as "the voice of Jewish liberals and progressives" and as "the alternative to Commentary magazine and the voices of Jewish conservatism," it has published continuously since 1986. After its launching in the San Francisco Bay area, Tikkun moved to New York City for a brief stint before returning to its northern California roots.

The magazine adopted the Hebrew word tikkun for its masthead, incorporating the Jewish mystical mandate to heal or repair the world. Based upon a kabbalistic notion that viewed the world as a broken vessel, the mandate for tikkun olam (repairing the world) obligates every person to fix the world around them. For Lerner, that ethic demanded a magazine steeped in the social protest movements of the 1960s, committed to progressive Jewish political activism, and anchored by the overarching need for greater spirituality in human life.

Tikkun traced its political lineage back to the civil rights movement, the peace movement, feminism, environmentalism, and the labor movement. Yet, the magazine's editorial staff remained concerned about what it perceived as a lack of attention to the spiritual dimension of worldly repair. Positioning itself as an alternative to "society's ethos of selfishness, materialism, and cynicism," Tikkun hoped to create a social protest movement "founded on and giving central focus to a spiritual vision." To that end, the magazine features regular contributions in the fields of poetry, literature, and the arts.

In the political world, Tikkun has focused much of its attention on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. An advocate for a two-state solution, Tikkun demanded that the Israeli government end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and return to pre-1967 borders. It has also called upon the Palestinians to renounce terror and help build trust with the Israelis. Tikkun 's editorials on the Mid-East conflict have positioned the magazine within the awkward and often conflicted left. In an era when some on the left embrace anti-Zionism and sometimes antisemitism, Tikkun seeks to define a Jewish and Zionist leftism that will "stand in favor of the rights of Palestinians" just as it will critique "the anti-religious and anti-spiritual biases of the secular Left." The magazine has sought to define a form of left-wing Zionism that envisions co-existence within a two-state solution. For its public condemnations of right-wing Israeli government policies and decisions, Tikkun has often been the object of Jewish communal scorn. For its public embrace of Zionism as a legitimate form of Jewish expression, it has often faced rejection from anti-Zionist and non-Zionist American leftist groups.

Much of Tikkun's spiritual activism has been focused on the "Tikkun Community," an interfaith organization (which welcomes, as well, atheists and agnostics) launched by the magazine to foster spiritual consciousness in its larger movement for social change. It recognizes as its central tenet that "the sources of external injustice, suffering, and ecological numbness are to be found not only in economic and political arrangements, but also in our alienation from one another, [and] in our inability to experience and recognize ourselves and each other as holy." With support from intellectuals such as Dartmouth University professor Susanna Heschel and Princeton University professor Cornel West, the Tikkun community launched regional conferences and organized college students around the country. Tikkun has sought to achieve its political and spiritual reform goals by advancing a post-denominational approach to American Jewish life and politics, and has succeeded in attracting progressive Jewish voices from the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Renewal movements in its pages and on its editorial board.


M. Lerner, Healing Israel/Palestine: A Path to Peace and Reconciliation (2003); idem, Socialism of Fools Anti-Semitism (1992); idem, Spirit Matters (2002); idem, Tikkun: To Heal, Repair, and Transform the World: An Anthology (1992).

[Marc Dollinger (2nd ed.)]