Pluralism and Public Life

Issues of religion, pluralism and democracy are especially important at an institution such as Yeshiva University, deeply committed both to religious study and observance and to the humanistic and scientific pursuits of the modern university. While we are not a Center for Jewish Ethics, a central part of our mission is to bring the religious and secular scholarship at Yeshiva into dialogue, and to examine broader issues raised by religious beliefs, commitments and practices in a liberal democratic society. Our third Scholar-in-Residence, Kwame Anthony Appiah, addressed these broader issues in several forums. He gave public lectures on cosmopolitanism, religion and identity, and led a campus discussion on the challenges of religious states in the modern world. The Center also sponsored two panel discussions for the YU community on respectful disagreement and free expression: one at Yeshiva College titled "Talking back," co-chaired by David Wasserman; the other at Stern College for Women titled "Agreeing to Disagree: Talking about Israel."

The Center has also sponsored or taken part in several panels about Jewish perspectives on ethical and policy issues. These include a public lecture by Rabbi Yitzhak Blau on "Courage as a Jewish Virtue" and campus panels on "Split Decisions: Separation of Conjoined Twins in Halacha" and "Cognitive Impairment, Judaism and Philosophy."