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Muhammad Ali memorial: Rabbi Michael Lerner

June 11, 2016
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Rabbi Michael Lerner speaks at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service.

Michael Lerner (born 1943) is an American political activist, the editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine based in Berkeley, California, and the rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley.

After serving for five years as dean of the graduate school of psychology at the New College of California (now defunct) in San Francisco, Lerner and his then-wife Nan Fink created a general-interest intellectual magazine called Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society. Tikkun was started with the intention of challenging the left for its inability to understand the centrality of religious and spiritual concerns in the lives of ordinary Americans. With his associate editor Peter Gabel, Lerner developed a “politics of meaning” (that is, that it is a function of government to provide life with meaning). This was intended to speak to the hunger for meaning that was characteristic of the thousands of people that Lerner and his colleagues were studying at the Institute for Labor and Mental Health. Tikkun was formed to educate the public about the findings of the Institute and to develop some of the implications of that work. However, because it also had an interest in being an “alternative to the voices of Jewish conservatism,” Tikkun was criticized by some Jewish groups.

In 1993, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton included the “politics of meaning” in her synthesis of political and social philosophy she was forming.

 

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