The Assimilation of Tikkun Olam
Jewish Political Studies Review 25, no. 3-4 (Fall 2013)
33 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2014 Last revised: 1 Dec 2014
Date Written: January 22, 2014
“Tikkun olam” is a marvelous term that is used as a slogan for activism, political involvement, and social justice. The term has had numerous lives, such that its endurance and malleability over time are truly impressive. This paper is a whistle stop tour that provides an overview of the vicissitudes of the term. This journey demonstrates how “tikkun olam” has come to connote a disparate array of values, and has been assimilated into modern, liberal, democratic discourse. With the course of time, “tikkun olam” has come to serve as watchword for any value, even if a particular value – laudable as it may be – is not rooted in Jewish tradition. This trend raises a question that should be considered: What is the opportunity cost of the cultural assimilation of the term "tikkun olam"?
Keywords: tikkun olam, Jewish Law, political activism, social justice, assimilation
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation