This is a conversation about the relationship between Jewishness and the Jewish State. About believing some aspects of Israel have become indefensible and also believing that Israel itself must be defended. About what it means when a religion built on the lessons of exile creates a state that inflicts exile on others. About the ugly, recurrent reality of antisemitism.
You know, the easy stuff.
In these past few months, I’ve been moved by the sermons of Rabbi Sharon Brous, which have managed to hold these paradoxes with more grace and prophetic wisdom than most. Brous is the founding and senior rabbi of IKAR, a Jewish community based in Los Angeles, and the author of the forthcoming book “The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World.” And so I asked her to be on the show to talk about things that are deeply uncomfortable to talk about.
We discuss the “great dream” that Israel represents for generations of Jews; Brous’s Yom Kippur sermon reckoning with the moral cost of Israel’s decades-long occupation and its increasingly right-wing government; the “existential loneliness” she and many in her community felt on Oct. 7; the antisemitism she witnessed in the wake of Oct. 7; how experiences of exile throughout history have shaped the Jewish psyche and speak to us now; stories from her visit with residents of the Kfar Aza kibbutz as they mourned their dead; why “bearing sacred witness” is a core spiritual commitment; and more.
“This Is the Moral Earthquake” by Rabbi Sharon Brous (sermon delieverd on Sep. 25, 2023)
“We’ve Lost So Much. Let’s Not Lose Our Damn Minds” by Rabbi Sharon Brous (sermon delieverd on Oct. 14, 2023)
“We Are Hebrews. We Must Act Like It.” by Rabbi Sharon Brous (sermon delivered on Oct. 28, 2023)
The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel
To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].
You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.
This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Emefa Agawu and Rollin Hu. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero.