Renee Garfinkel

Top 10 Podcasts From Jerusalem In 2021

What big ideas are closest to your heart? War? Love? Religion?

The Van Leer Series on Ideas brought the world’s best thinkers and writers to our microphones in 2021 to share their understanding of these and other big issues .

Here are the top podcasts of 2021:

War shapes society, even as society shapes war. Dive into the subject with renowned historian, Margaret Macmillan in How Conflict Shaped Us

Is love the answer? Many say so, and many more have written about it. Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz looks at love from an unexplored angle, in her original study, The End of Love: A Sociology of Negative Relations

The passion and politics of one of the 20th century’s most impactful rabbis comes to life in this conversation with Julian Zelizer, author of a brand-new biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Life of Radical Amazement

Music is the language of the soul, and this Israeli author is a first class interpreter. Theological Stains: Art Music and the Zionist Project by Assaf Sheleg.

Giving charity is an essential Jewish value. It takes different forms, and meaning  at different times in history in different cultures. Listen to Paul Vallely take you through Philanthropy: From Aristotle to Zuckerberg

What do diplomats actually do? Find out by listening to Emmanuel Navon talk about his new book, The Star and The Scepter: A Diplomatic History of Israel

The Bible’s Noah was the first, but certainly not the last person to turn to alcohol for comfort. But how did the human desire to get high help civilization develop?  Listen to Edward Slingerland discuss Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way To Civilization.

Another liquid, water, is essential to life. Seth Siegel has made it his life’s work.  In this podcast he discusses 2 books, Let There Be Water, the history of water in Israel, and Troubled Water: What’s Wrong With What We Drink, the condition of water in America today.

Do you know anyone who has trouble making commitments? Pete Davis did, and that led to him writing Dedicated: The Case For Commitment In An Age of Infinite Browsing

If you’ve ever imagined yourself as an explorer, you’ll love listening to Riaz Dean talk about his book, Mapping The Great Game: Explorers, Spies and Maps in 19th Century Central Asia, India and Tibet

If you enjoy these podcasts, you can subscribe to the Van Leer Series on Ideas on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast platform.

See the entire series to date at

Best wishes to all for a safe, healthy, and peaceful 2022.

About the Author
Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, television commentator and podcast host of the Van Leer Series on Ideas with Renee Garfinkel
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