To Americans, the idea that religious traditionalists should gravitate toward political conservatism seems a natural one, but in Israel such an alignment is a rather more recent phenomenon—and many who would consider themselves both religious and “of the right” would not necessarily choose the term “conservative.” In a recent book, Rabbi Chaim Navon attempts to articulate a Jewish rationale for religious conservatism. Yitzchak Blau writes in his review:
Makim Shorashim lays out much of cultural conservatism’s central themes. (An English title might be something like “Striking Roots: A Jewish Critique of Postmodern Deconstruction”—but there’s a clever double entendre: l’hakot shoresh means to take root, but here . . . Navon examines the consequences of uprooting a tradition.)
Navon includes many classic critiques of modern liberalism. Liberals value the individual and the state but forget about the importance of intervening institutions, such as the family, the congregation, and the neighborhood, that pass on values and make life livable. In fact, they protect against governmental tyranny; it is no accident that the Soviets tried to undermine all these other allegiances.
Navon laments the loss [among the Orthodox] of a desire to mirror the religious behavior of one’s grandparents and attributes this to an absence of religious self-confidence that brings grandchildren back to the books instead of relying on family and community. Interestingly, he critiques both liberals trying to change religious practice significantly and conservatives searching for greater stringency. Each group remains uncomfortable with the natural continuity of family customs. For Navon, there is nothing less authentic than searching for authenticity.