Rabbi Michael Lerner

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Michael Lerner

"In 1977 he received a second Ph.D. in social/clinical psychology from the Wright Institute, and for the next two years worked as a therapist serving the underprivileged minority community of Richmond and white working class families from surrounding suburbia—at the Contra Costa County Mental Health facilities. At the same time, he worked with leaders of the Alameda and Contra Costa and San Francisco labor movement to create the Institute for Labor and Mental Health, a facility dedicated to dealing with the mental health issues of working people. In 1979, he became executive director of the Institute for Labor and Mental Health (ILMH) and was awarded a grant by the National Institute of Mental Health to provide training for middle-income working people around issues connected to stress at work and family life. And in 1982 he became Principal Investigator for a multi-million dollar research project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and focused on work and family life...

"He went to Israel in 1984 with his son Akiba and spent most of the year studying at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and at various yeshivot, and became involved in the religious peace movement (Netivot Shalom). Lerner was invited by David Hartman to become part of a developing seminar of philosophers who would come to the Hartman Institute each summer and study there, and he did that for several years. But in the US Lerner watched unhappily as the organized Jewish community became increasingly conservative in its political leadership.

"So, in 1986, together with his then wife Nan Fink, Lerner decided to start TIKKUN magazine. TIKKUN was created as "the voice of Jewish liberals and progressives" and as "the alternative to Commentary magazine and the voices of Jewish conservatism." From the start, TIKKUN was dedicated to Jewish ethics and to healing and repair of the world. But the TIKKUN editors were not just interested in Jewish issues narrowly defined. Their commitment was also to challenge the liberal and progressive secular politics and to insist on the importance of speaking to the psychological, ethical and spiritual dimension of human needs, and to challenge a narrow vision of human needs that had previously shaped the liberal and progressive social change movements in the U.S." [1]

He hosts a radio show on Progressive Radio Network.

Conflicting loyalties

Although Lerner has been critical about Israel, and much of Tikkun is devoted to discussing this issue, Alison Weir reports[2]:

Tikkun's editor Michael Lerner has

a son who served in the Israeli military. While Lerner has been a strong critic of many Israeli policies, in an interview with Jewish Week, Lerner explains:

Having a son in the Israeli army was a manifestation of my love for Israel, and I assume that having a son in the Israeli army is a manifestation of Bronner's love of Israel.

Lerner goes on to make a fundamental point:

...there is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides [Israelis and

Palestinians]. On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings

all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family. I don't deny it.



Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Biographical Notes on Rabbi Lerner, Tikkun, accessed August 30, 2007.
  2. Alison Weir, Media Reporting on Israel: All in the Family, CounterPunch, 26 February 2010.
  3. Home Page, Tikkun, accessed August 30, 2007.