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From Machiavelli to Misnagdic Jewish Thought: Spring 2024 Courses

Straus Center

In the spring 2024 semester, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought is offering numerous courses for Straus Scholars and Yeshiva University undergraduate students to study the great texts and traditions of Judaism and the West.

Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, Director of the Straus Center, is teaching three new courses across multiple disciplines and periods of intellectual history: “Josephus’ The Jewish War: A Military and Religious History of the Battle for Jerusalem,” which focuses on the history of the conflict between Judea and Rome; “Misnagdic Jewish Thought,” which studies three classics of Jewish thought linked to the Yeshiva of Vilozhin (Rabbi Hayyim's Nefesh Ha-Hayyim, Netziv's Ha'amek Davar, and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's Halakhic Man); and “Philosophy of Art,” which he is co-teaching with Dr. David Johnson, a philosophy professor at YU.

Other new offerings include Senior Scholar Dr. Tevi Troy’s course “The American Presidency,” which he is co-teaching with Dr. Matthew Incantalupo, a political science professor at YU. The course examines the process by which a president is nominated and elected, and explore theories that explain presidential power and success. Resident Scholar Dr. Shaina Trapedo is teaching “Epics and Ethics of the Middle Ages,” which focuses on the great works of medieval literature, surveying texts such as Beowulf, The Divine Comedy, The Tale of Genji, and The Thousand and One Nights.

Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky is teaching a new course with Dr. Elana Riback Rand at the Azrieli Graduate School on "Teaching Torah and Western Thought in Conversation," which is reading texts on religious toleration and freedom, the political ideas of the American founding, and American-Jewish responses to progressivism, liberalism, conservatism, Zionism, and other political movements. Dr. Rogachevsky is also teaching “Great Political Thinkers” and “American Political Thought,” and Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner is teaching courses on the thought of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks as well as the history of the Malbim. Finally, affiliated scholar Rabbi Dr. Ari Bergmann is teaching “Talmudic Perspectives: Careers and Life,” Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman is teaching Jewish bioethics, and Rabbi Shalom Carmy is teaching the thought of Maharal.

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