Podcast: Yuval Levin on the Failure of America's Institutions

The author of A Time to Build joins us to talk about why institutions matter and what communities of faith can do to contribute to American renewal.

Jan. 24 2020
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

Yuval Levin is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where he also holds the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Public Policy. The founder and editor of National Affairs, he is also a senior editor at The New Atlantis, a contributing editor at National Review, and a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times.

This Week’s Guest: Yuval Levin


In our age of expressive individualism, one characteristic that most sets observant Jews apart, that makes them most “countercultural” as compared with mainstream American society, is their rich communal life. From crowded Shabbat tables, to volunteer ambulance and community-watch groups, to the close-knit communities that form around synagogues and day schools, the life of a committed Jew is embedded in a deep network of formative institutions.

Of course, American Jewish life is far from perfect, and Jewish communities must contend with the same forces of radical individualism that have damaged American institutions of all sorts, from government and the media to schools and civic organizations. This breakdown of public life lies at the heart of what ails contemporary America, argues the political thinker Yuval Levin in his new book A Time to Build, in which he examines not only the failures of these communal institutions but also how they might be rebuilt.

In this podcast, Levin joins Jonathan Silver for a discussion of the book, published just this week. Together they explore why institutions matter, what their collapse means for the country, and what communities of faith can do to contribute to American renewal.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of Tikvah Society members at the Tikvah Center in New York City. If you want to learn more about joining the Tikvah Society, click here.



For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.

If you have thoughts about the podcast that you’d like to share, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send an email to [email protected].

More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic