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News, Events & Articles

The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Take One
 

What Makes a Home?

Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Take One podcast to discuss America's turn to home improvement shows during the COVID-19 lockdowns and its connection to Sukkot. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Summer Program
 

The Straus Center’s Inaugural High School Summer Program Blends the Traditions and Texts of Judaism and the West

On June 24-25, 2021, the Straus Center hosted its inaugural summer seminar for high school students, Jewish and Western Texts in Conversation. Held in Manhattan over the course of two days, 43 students participated in unique interdisciplinary seminars and exclusive tours, learning at the collegiate level and engaging with the YU Straus Center’s renowned faculty. READ MORE

 

 


Declaration of Independence
 

Painting the Tension at America's Founding Moment

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik examines John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence,” arguing that its central figures — Thomas Jefferson and John Adams — represent two distinct poles of America’s founding. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Liberty Bell
 

Take the Liberty Bell Back on Tour

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern runs through the history of the Liberty Bell’s travels, arguing that putting it back on tour can once again galvanize Americans to bridge our current political fissures. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


DC Trip
 

The Straus Scholars Visit Our Nation’s Capital

On Memorial Day weekend, the Straus Scholars and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik visited Washington, D.C. to explore the impact of Biblical ideas on America and its founding. The trip included a tour of the Museum of the Bible and Lincoln Memorial, a private dinner with Dr. Tevi Troy, former deputy secretary of health and human services, and sessions with several American Enterprise Institute scholars. READ MORE

 

 

 


Straus
 

Straus Scholars: Making an Impact Outside the Classroom

While the Yeshiva University classroom doors may be closed for the summer, Straus Scholars continue to make an impact with internships and research fellowships in the fields of political science, law, philosophy, and Jewish studies, including the Tikvah Fund’s Summer Fellowship, the Heritage Foundation’s Summer Academy and the Kohelet Policy Forum. READ MORE

 

 

 


Great Fire
 

The Montesquieu of Montreal and the Decline of the American Empire

Writing for American Affairs, Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky looks to the films of Montreal filmmaker Denys Arcand to examine the meaning of decline — American and Western — and its possible implications for our time. READ MORE

 

 


John Rawls
 

Course Spotlight: Rawls’ Theory of Justice

As the spring semester comes to a close, Straus Center Communications and Program Officer Sam Gelman sat down with Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig to discuss his Straus Center course, Rawls’ Theory of Justice, which was offered in collaboration with Yeshiva College. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Samson
 

American Samson

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern documents Samson's impact on the United States since the dawn of the American experiment. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Lightning
 

Storm-Born

Writing for Public Discourse, Straus Center Resident Scholar Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner examines the exegesis behind the Hebrew Bible's only documented lightning strike, which took place at Mount Sinai. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Reading Ruth
 

Reading Ruth: Grandfather and Granddaughter

Writing for Mosaic, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik celebrates Reading Ruth, a commentary on the Book of Ruth authored by Leon Kass and his granddaughter, Hannah Mandelbaum. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Ruth
 

The Nature of True Friendship

Writing for The Jewish Week, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reflects on Naomi and Ruth's relationship in the Book of Ruth and what it says about the inarticulable nature of friendship itself. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Leon Kass
 

Gleaning the Wisdom of Ruth

Writing for The Lehrhaus, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reviews Reading Ruth, a commentary on the Book of Ruth authored by Leon Kass and his granddaughter, Hannah Mandelbaum. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Golden Haggadah
 

A Manuscript Is Not a Mirror

On Wednesday, April 28, the Straus Center hosted Dr. Marc Michael Epstein, the Mattie M. Paschall and Norman Davis Chair of Religion and Visual Culture at Vassar College, for a special guest lecture in the Straus honors course, Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts: Torah as Art in Medieval Ashkenaz. The lecture, “Why a Manuscript is not a Mirror: Scientific Method and the Study of Hebrew Manuscript Illumination,” focused on the range of plausible interpretations available to those researching Jewish illuminated manuscripts. READ MORE

 

 


Summer at Straus
 

Spend Your Summer at the Straus Center

The Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought is excited to announce the launch of Jewish and Western Texts in Conversation, an inaugural summer seminar program for Modern Orthodox high school juniors and seniors with separate tracks for men and women. Under the direction of Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, students will study texts on Jewish Ideas & American Democracy, Shakespeare & the Bible, and Zionist Thought & the Israeli Declaration of Independence. READ MORE

 

 


Economics
 

Course Spotlight: Judaism and Economics

Yeshiva University News sat down with RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Daniel Feldman to discuss his Straus Center course, Judaism and Economics, which he is teaching at Yeshiva College. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Al-Farabi
 

Sacrifice and Patriotism: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives

On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, the Straus Center hosted Dr. Alexander Orwin, assistant professor of political theory at Louisiana State University, for a lecture titled “Al-Farabi and Maimonides on Self-Sacrifice and Patriotism.” The lecture was hosted by Dr. Neil Rogachevsky, associate director of the Straus Center, and was part of the Jack Miller Center lecture series. READ MORE

 

 


Peloton
 

Counting the Omer, the Anti-Peloton

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern explains why counting the Omer provides an experience that is antithetical to using a Peloton workout bike. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

The Omer, Israel, and Peloton 

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Take One Daf Yomi podcast to discuss the Omer and its connections to Israel and the Peloton workout bike. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


White Nights
 

The Triumph of White Nights

Writing for the Straus Center's monthly reader Jewish and Western Texts in Conversation, Straus Center Impact and Recruitment Officer Sarah Wapner considers the enduring relevance of Menachem Begin's triumphant memoir, White Nights: The Story of a Prisoner in Russia. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Arch of Titus
 

Course Spotlight: The Arch of Titus — Between Rome and Jerusalem

Yeshiva University News sat down with Dr. Steven Fine, the Dean Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History and founding director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, to discuss his Straus Center course, The Arch of Titus: Between Rome and Jerusalem. READ MORE

 

 

 


Herzl
 

Course Spotlight: Zionist Political Thought — Arguing Zionism

Yeshiva University News sat down with Tablet Dr. Liel Leibovitz to discuss his Straus Center course, Zionist Political Thought — Arguing Zionism, which he is co-teaching with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Neil Rogachevsky. READ MORE

 

 

 


Smitten With Sympathy
 

Smitten With Sympathy 

Writing for the Jewish Review of Books, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern argues that we should not allow misplaced feelings of sympathy toward the Egyptians to cloud the true reasons for Passover’s traditions. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Students
 

The Three Pillars of Jewish Education

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern participated in a virtual panel discussion at the Jewish & Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue. Dr. Halpern’s talk focused on three pillars of Jewish education: celebration, conversation and repetition. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Education
 

The Dual American Educational Tradition

On Sunday, March 3, 2021, the Straus Center hosted an intellectually stimulating and informative lecture by Dr. Rita Koganzon, associate director of the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy at the University of Virginia, for the Straus Scholars. The lecture, which was part of the Jack Miller Center speaker series, analyzed the American education system and tried to uncover the American “tradition” of disliking school. READ MORE

 

 


DBG
 

Against the Written Constitution

In this newly translated speech, David Ben-Gurion makes the case against any kind of written formal constitution for the Jewish state. The speech was translated by Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky for Mosaic Magazine. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


La Santa Esther
 

La Santa Esther

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, Dr. Emily Colbert Cairns, associate professor at Salve Regina University, delivered a lecture titled "'La Santa Esther': Esther Among the Crypto-Jews of the Americas." The event was part of the Crisis and Hope: YU Voices lecture series and covered material found in Dr. Cairns’ chapter in Esther in America, published by the Straus Center, and her book, Esther in Early Modern Iberia and the Sephardic Diaspora: Queen of the Conversas. READ MORE

 

 


Harold Abrahams
 

The Jew Who Ran Away

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik looks back at the film Chariots of Fire, which chronicles the life of the Jewish Olympic gold medalist Harold Abrahams and his Christian counterpart, Eric Liddell. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

The Rabbit Hunt

Straus Center Resident Scholar Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg joined Tablet Magazine's Take One Daf Yomi podcast to discuss the rabbis' love of acronyms and how one particular acronym inspired Jewish artists to illustrate Haggadot with scenes from a rabbit hunt. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Thucydides
 

Vast Personal Forces

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, the Straus Center welcomed Dr. Seth Jaffe, assistant professor of political science and international affairs at John Cabot University, who presented "Vast Personal Forces: Thucydides, Populism, & the Liberty of the Ancients." READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Carmy
 

Course Spotlight: Belief and Religious Commitment 

Yeshiva University News sat down with Rabbi Shalom Carmy to discuss his Yeshiva College course, Belief and Religious Commitment, which is being offered in collaboration with the Straus Center. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Book Launch
 

Book Launch With Museum of the Bible

Esther in America contributors Dr. Erica Brown, Tevi Troy and Liel Leibovitz discussed the volume at its official launch, hosted by the Straus Center and the Museum of the Bible. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Esther
 

The Enduring Story of Esther in America

Writing for The Jewish Journal, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern explores the theme of identity in the story of Esther, arguing that society can only flourish if it allows others to wear their community loyalties proudly. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Cinderella
 

Cinderella and Esther

In an interview with The Jewish Standard, Dr. Shaina Trapedo, adjunct English professor at Yeshiva University, discusses how Esther is the anti-Cinderella and reflects on the power of stories. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Chain Crew
 

Chained Melody

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern argues that the real stars of the Super Bowl are not the players or coaches, but the chain-movers. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


White House
 

Esther in the White House

In an excerpt from Esther in America for The Algemeiner, Dr. Tevi Troy explores how comparisons between the story of Esther and modern-day politics became a common motif for presidential political commentators. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Joe Biden
 

God at the Inauguration

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern and Dr. Tevi Troy track the history of biblical allusions and quotes in U.S. presidential inaugural speeches. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


 

Lincoln
 

Lincoln's Almost Chosen People 

Speaking at the 2020 Erasmus Lecture for First Things, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik discussed the covenantal nature of America's founding and, in the words of Lincoln, its "almost chosen people." READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Esther
 

Reading Esther in Today's America

Writing for Newsweek, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reflects on Esther's legacy, reminding us in these troubled times that it only takes one decent and committed person to save the day. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Biden
 

Every Man Under His Vine

Writing for JTA, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern suggests which biblical verse President-elect Biden should use in his inauguration speech to unify our fractured nation. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Glikl of Hameln
 

"Gather Around and I Will Tell You"

On Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, Straus Center Resident Scholar Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg delivered a lecture to the Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon titled "'Gather Around and I Will Tell You:' Glikl of Hameln and Her Ethical Will," adapted from her Straus Center course at Stern College for Women, Matriarchs and Memoirs. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Erica Brown
 

Be the Light

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, the Straus Center hosted a tour de force talk for undergraduate students by Dr. Erica Brown ’88S, prolific scholar, author, and director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at George Washington University, on “What Chanukah Teaches Us About Responsibility.” READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Talking Tachlis Podcast
​   ​

"A Very Special Episode"

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined the Talking Tachlis Podcast to discuss his latest article for Tablet, "Why I Won't Let My Kids Watch That Very Special Christmas Episode." LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

Pesachim and Boundries 

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Take One Daf Yomi podcast to discuss boundaries and how respecting clear distinctions and differences makes society more, not less, cohesive. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Christmas Movie
 

The Dignity of Difference

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern explains why he does not let his children watch Christmas-themed television and how doing so preserves the "dignity of difference." READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Nuremberg
 

Nuremberg, 75 Years After

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik reflects on the legacy of the Nuremberg trials, 75 years after they began. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Mikdash and Memory
 

Mikdash and Memory

The Straus Center is proud to present "Mikdash and Memory: A Tale of Jewish Loving and Longing," a video series examining the timeless importance of Judaism's most sacred site. Led by Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, the series will tell the millennia-long tale of a people’s relations with a holy structure that once stood and lives on in Jewish longing. WATCH HERE

 

 

 


Henry V
 

Shakespeare’s Henry V and Leadership

On Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, Dr. Paul Cantor, the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of the English Department at the University of Virginia, delivered a lecture on William Shakespeare’s Henry V to the Straus Scholars of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, who this year are studying the Torah’s influence on the works of the playwright. READ MORE

 

 

 


Rabbi Sacks Chanukah
 

Freedom as Creed, Faith as Need

Writing for YU Chanukah To-Go, Straus Center Resident Scholar Rabbi Dov Lerner makes the case for Chanukah as a celebration of, in the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, "personal responsibility for the moral-spiritual order." READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Philosophy of Law
 

Class Spotlight: Philosophy of Law

YU News sat down with Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig to discuss his fall 2020 course, Philosophy of Law, which is being offered at Yeshiva College and explores the nature, purpose, and merits of law as a concept. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

Building a Community Through Customs

Straus Scholar Yehuda Goldberg joined Tablet's Take One Daf Yomi podcast to discuss Eruvin 101, which focuses on the important role tradition and custom play in building communities. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 

 


Rabbi Sacks, Rabbi Halpern and Rabbi Lamm
 

Lessons in Spiritual Mentorship 

Writing for the YU Commentator, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reflects on his spiritual mentorship with the late Rabbi Sacks during the latter's tenure as a visiting professor at Yeshiva University. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Rabbi Sacks
 

A Leader for All Peoples

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik focuses on the late Rabbi Sacks' impact outside the Jewish community. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Rabbi Sacks
 

The Legacy of Rabbi Sacks

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Detroit's Jewish Hour radio show, hosted by Rabbi Herschel Finman, to discuss the legacy of the late Rabbi Sacks. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 

 


Rabbi Sacks
 

A Sage With Youthful Vigor

Writing for The Jewish Link, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reflects on Rabbi Sacks’ remarkable ability to balance his elder sageness with his youthfully enthusiastic desire to maximize each and every day of his life. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Lincoln
 

Hiding Behind Lincoln

From their humble upbringings to their political bravery, Straus Scholar Jonathan Fenster argues in Compass that Esther and Abraham Lincoln have more in common than one would think. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Samuel Goldman
 

A New Approach to Religious Freedom

On Oct. 26, 2020, Dr. Samuel Goldman, associate professor of political science at George Washington University and executive director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom, gave a virtual guest lecture to the students in Dr. Neil Rogachevsky’s Straus Center course, “Enlightenment and its Critics,” exploring the history of religious freedom in America. READ MORE

 

 

 


Ethical Will
 

Judah Ibn Tibbon’s Ethical Will

On Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, Dr. S.J. Pearce, an associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University, where her teaching and research focus on the intellectual history and literature of Jews, Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain, guest-lectured in Yeshiva College’s Spiritual Autobiographies course. READ MORE

 

 

 


 

Abraham Accords
 

The Wonder of the Abraham Accords

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik reflects on the political and biblical significance of the treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Samuel Paty Interfaith Ceremony
 

Nathan the Wise and Religious Tolerance

Writing for The Forward, Straus Scholar Michael Weiner looks to the play Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing for guidance after another Islamic terror attack occurred in France over the depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Spiritual Autobiographies
 

Class Spotlight: Spiritual Autobiographies 

YU News sat down with Dr. Ronnie Perelis, Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Abraham and Jelena (Rachel) Alcalay Associate Professor of Sephardic Studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and Dr. David Lavinsky, associate professor of English at Yeshiva College, to discuss their Straus Center course, Spiritual Autobiographies. READ MORE

 

 

 


Cities
 

In Defense of Cities

Despite the bad name they get from the story of the Tower of Babel, Straus Scholar Yehuda Goldberg argues in The Lehrhaus that these cosmopolitan centers and concrete jungles can recognize and extoll God’s primacy, creating a common conception of good. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Cheshvan
 

Humdrum Cheshvan

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Stu Halpern makes the case for why Cheshvan — which is the only month on the Hebrew calendar that contains no celebrations, commemorations, or special occasions — is exactly what we need in these tumultuous times. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


The Temple
 

Class Spotlight: The Architecture of Election

YU News sat down with Dr. Joseph Angel, associate professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva College, to discuss his Straus Center course, The Architecture of Election: Temple Architecture in Judaism and Western Thought. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

It's All in the Details

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Take One Daf Yomi podcast to discuss Eruvin 70 and 71, which focuses on the seemingly mundane technicalities of the tractate. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Sharansky's Faith
 

Sharansky’s Faith

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik reflects on Natan Sharansky's faith, praising the famed human rights activist for capturing the spirit of both King David and the prophet Isaiah. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Barrett
 

Leave Judge Barrett’s Faith Out of This

Writing for The New York Times, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik argues that the attacks against Amy Coney Barrett's faith have no place in the American pluralistic tradition, a tradition that George Washington illustrated in his letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Torah Scroll
 

A Former Catholic Dances With the Torah

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik reminds us that God’s word is the center of Jewish life and that, when all else fails, the Book of Books sustains us. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Image and the Idea
 

Class Spotlight: The Image and the Idea

Yeshiva University News sat down with Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum, to discuss his fall 2020 course, The Image and the Idea, which he is co-teaching with Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


RBG
 

What Do We Owe the Dead? 

Writing for JTA News, Straus Scholar Michael Wiener reflects on the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and how Jewish tradition can guide our response. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Liberty Bell
 

The Straus Center Receives Jack Miller Center Grant

The Straus Center is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant from the Jack Miller Center, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure that students learn the history and principles at the heart of American political life. The financial support will fund a new guest-lecture series, titled “Jewish Ideas and American Government,” for the 2020-2021 academic year. READ MORE

 

 

 


Zoom
 

College Amid Covid

Writing for The Wall Street Journal's Future View, Straus Scholar Michael Weiner weighs in on how the shift to online classes has impacted his view on tuition costs. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Fast
 

The Fast for the Furious

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Stu Halpern explains why Tzom Gedaliah is the observance our angry society desperately needs. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


 

Jonah
 

Jonah: The Sequels

Writing for the Jewish Review of Books, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Stu Halpern examines ancient and modern retellings, Jewish and secular, of the book of Jonah, which is read on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Beren
 

Shakespeare or the Bible?

On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, the Beren Straus Scholars participated in their first seminar on Shakespeare and the Bible, which explores the text’s influence on the works of playwright William Shakespeare. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Letters
 

The Art & Letters of Repentance

The Straus Center is proud to present a five-part video series on the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur Machzor. Featuring lectures by Straus Center Resident Scholar Rabbi Dov Lerner, Straus Center Resident Scholar Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg, RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, Stern College for Women Adjunct English Professor Dr. Shaina Trapedo, and Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. WATCH HERE

 

 

 


RH To Go
 

Home Shuling

Writing for Yeshiva University's Rosh Hashanah 5781 Torah To-Go, Straus Center Resident Scholar Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg reflects on transitioning from a Rosh Hashanah centered on synagogue service to a Rosh Hashanah centered at home. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Wapner
 

Straus Center Welcomes New Impact and Recruitment Officer

The Straus Center is excited to welcome Sarah Wapner as its Impact and Recruitment Officer. Under this new position, she will lead the Center’s Impact and Recruitment Office, which is dedicated to fostering the growth of the Straus Scholars beyond the walls of the classroom. READ MORE

 

 

 


Samuel
 

Wishes and Witches in Samuel and Shakespeare

On August 30, 2020, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, delivered a seminar, “Wishes and Witches in Samuel and Shakespeare.” The seminar was the first of a series of discussions for the Straus Center’s Wilf Straus Scholars, who, this year, along with the Beren Straus Scholars, will be studying the Bible’s influence on the works of playwright William Shakespeare. READ MORE

 

 

 


Mayflower
 

The 1620 Project

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik traces the Hebrew Bible's influence on America all the way back to 1620, the year the Mayflower set sail for the new world. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Eruvin
 

What Do We Get for Being Good?

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Daf Yomi podcast to discuss Eruvin 21 and 22, which cover divine reward, punishment, and personal responsibility. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 

 


Straus Scholars
 

The 2020 Straus Scholars

Every year, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought welcomes a new cohort of Straus Scholars, incoming Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women students who demonstrate high academic achievement, leadership potential, and commitment to studying the works of the Jewish and Western tradition. This year’s group hails from across the country—New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio—and plans on studying a multitude of topics, including political science, biology, and architecture. READ MORE


Cain and Joseph
 

Cain, Joseph, and the Familial Future

Utilizing the philosophy of Rabbi Norman Lamm, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern explores the differences and similarities between the brotherly tales of Cain and Abel and Joseph and his brothers. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Gene
 

It's in the Gene(alogy)

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern's essay, "It's in the Gene(alogy): Family, Storytelling, and Salvation," was featured in the most recent edition of Conversations, published by the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. READ MORE

 

 


Malbim
 

Class Spotlight: Malbim & Modernity

For the fall 2020 semester, Straus Center Resident Scholar Rabbi Dov Lerner will teach Malbim & Modernity, a course in Jewish history and Jewish philosophy. The class will focus on Malbim, a 19th-century rabbi, philosopher, and playwright, and his reaction to the emancipation of Europe’s Jews. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Love Fest
 

Love Fest

Many associate Tu B’Av with love and romance, labeling it the “Jewish Valentine’s Day.” However, as Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern argues, the holiday has so much more to offer, especially in these politically tribal times. READ MORE

 

 

 


Shimon
 

Rabbi Shimon Schwab's Kinah

Straus Center Resident Scholar Rabbi Dov Lerner analyzes Rabbi Shimon Schwab's kinah for the Holocaust for Yeshivat Har Etzion's video series on kinnot. WATCH HERE

 

 

 

 

 


OU
 

Piyyut: Poems of a Persecuted People

On Monday, July 20, 2020, Straus Center Resident Scholar Dr. Chaya Sima Koenigsberg was a featured lecturer in the Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative’s "3 Weeks: Ideas and Inspiration." READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Take One
 

Shabbat 144

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern joined Tablet's Daf Yomi podcast to disucss the delicate dance that is the relationship between rabbis and their congregations. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Stu Class
 

The Struggles of Being a Diaspora Jew

On July 21, 2020, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern delivered a shiur titled "The Lion, the Pit and the Wardrobe: Daniel, Joseph, Esther and the Struggles of Being a Diaspora Jew" over Facebook Live and YouTube Live, which has since been viewed by over 400 people. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Peter Beinart's Wedge
 

Peter Beinart's Wedge

Writing for Mosaic, Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky argues that Peter Beinart’s call for a bi-national Jewish and Arab state is less about Israel and more about changing the foreign policy debate in America. READ MORE

 


A State at Any Cost
 

The Man Who Willed a State

Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky reviews Tom Segev's new biography of David Ben-Gurion, A State at Any Cost, for Mosaic. READ MORE

 

 


 

Tikvah Podcast
 

The Oratorical Legacy of Rabbi Lamm

Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik sat down with the Tikvah Podcast to discuss the oratorical skills of Rabbi Lamm, focusing on two of his most impressive sermons: "The Fountain of Life" and "Confessions of a Confused Rabbi." LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 


Rabbi Lamm
 

The Genius of Rabbi Norman Lamm, z’’l

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik looks back at some of the sermons given by Rabbi Norman Lamm. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Books of the People
 

Straus Center Volume Recommended by Tradition Board for Summer Reading

David Shatz endorses Books of the People: Revisiting Classic Works of Jewish Thought for Part 2 of Tradition's summer reading list. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Reopen America
 

What Does the Bible Teach Us About Reopening America?

Straus Scholar Baruch-Lev Kelman looks to the Bible for guidance on how America should approach its COVID-19 reopening process. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Han Solo
 

Norman Lamm, Harrison Ford, and Humility

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern recounts a humorous exchange between Rabbi Lamm and Star Wars star Harrison Ford and reflects on how it can teach one to be both humble and confident in their abilities. READ MORE

 


Moab
 

Friendship in the Fields of Moab

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern analyzes the friendship between Ruth and Naomi through the philosophy of C. S. Lewis. READ MORE

 

 


Loneliness
 

How to Cure Loneliness 

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern argues that the book of Ruth provides pathways to fight isolation, loneliness, and the other social plagues of the moment. READ MORE

 

 

 


Menachem Begin's Covenantal Zionism
 

Menachem Begin's Covenantal Zionism 

Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik offers commentary and insights on the newly translated speech by Menachem Begin, "We Were All Born in Jerusalem," which highlights the former prime minster's differing views on Zionism compared to other early leaders in the movement. READ MORE

 

 


Jerusalem
 

"We Were All Born in Jerusalem"

Given by Menachem Begin at a commemorative event for the Soviet city of Brisk, which served as a home for 20,000 Jews before they were slaughtered by the Nazis, this newly translated speech (courtesy of Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky) touches on many of ideas that Begin advocated for during his storied political career, including reverence for the Jewish past, Jewish unity and inner courage. READ MORE

 

 

 


Reopen America
 

A Republic If You Can Keep It

Writing for The Imaginative Conservative, Straus Scholar Michael Weiner argues that religion provides more than just salvation. It can also be a major source of social value, providing shared history, institutions, and cultural norms, which integrate us into a moral community. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Mapai
 

The Not-So-Strange Death of Israel’s Labor Party

Writing for American Affairs, Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky argues that the decline of the Israeli left is much less surprising when examined in the context of the history and ideological tendencies of its very origins. READ MORE

 

 

 


Sermons in Solitude
 

Sermons in Solitude

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik ponders how we, as Jews, can be together precisely when we are forbidden from engaging with others. READ MORE

 

 

 


Pray in a plague
 

How to Pray in a Plague

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reflects on the act of prayer during this time of crisis. READ MORE

 

 

 


Better Call Saul
 

Better Call Saul

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern examines the failures of Saul during the first Biblical quarantine and offers insights into what contemporary leaders can learn from his mistakes. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Exodus Seal
 

The Exodus, America's Ever-Present Inspiration

In his latest piece for The Lehrhaus, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern surveys the various ways the story of Passover has served as a source of inspiration for America. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Satan
 

Satan at the Seder?

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern looks at the book of Jubilees and the surprising connection it draws between Satan, the Binding of Isaac and the Seder. READ MORE

 

 


Four Tricks of the Seder
 

The Four Tricks of the Seder

Writing for The Jewish Review of Books, Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern examines the different levels of deceit and wiliness that God displays in the book of Exodus. READ MORE

 

 


Natan Sharansky
 

Natan Sharansky vs. Bernie Sanders

Writing for Commentary, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik tracks the formative years of Natan Sharansky and Bernie Sanders and sheds light on how their experiences shaped their attitudes toward socialist dictators. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


Stan Lee Book
 

Stan Lee and The Rav

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reviews Liel Leibovitz's new biography of Stan Lee — Stan Lee: A Life in Comics — which explores the Jewish roots of superheroes like Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. READ MORE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Exile
 

Three Medieval Accounts of Exile

Straus Scholar Michael Weiner explores the different ways Medieval Jews viewed exile and how each path impacted the theological and psychological mindsets of the Jewish people at the time. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Election
 

Spare Your People a Fourth Election, O Israel

Writing for Mosaic Magazine, Straus Center Associate Director Dr. Neil Rogachevsky presents a path for Israel to avoid its fourth election in just over a year. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Esther
 

Esther, a Hero for Our Time

As anti-Semitism rises in the West, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik argues in The New York Times that Esther is the hero we should look toward for inspiration and guidance. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 


Tomb of Esther
 

Haman in the Islamic Canon

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reviews Adam J. Silverstein's Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story: The Reception of a Biblical Book in Islamic Lands, which explores how the book of Esther was read, understood, and used in Muslim lands throughout the ages. READ MORE

 

 


Esther Book
 

Exile and Esther

Straus Center Senior Program Officer Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reviews Erica Brown's book on Esther — Esther: Power, Fate, and Fragility in Exile — from Maggid Books for Tradition. READ MORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Digital Age
 

Navigating Identity in the Digital Age

On Feb. 26, 2020, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, in partnership with the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program, hosted Dr. Eli Gottlieb for a presentation on “Identity in the Digital Age.” Dr. Gottlieb, currently a visiting associate professor at George Washington University, previously ran the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem and is an expert in both philosophy and the psychology of religion. READ MORE

 


Seminar
 

C.S. Lewis Experts Lead Interdisciplinary Discussion

On February 20, 2020, Rabbi Shalom Carmy and Rabbi Mark Gottlieb engaged Straus Scholars of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought in a discussion of C.S. Lewis’ mythic novel Till We Have Faces. The scholars reflected upon the role of mythic literature and on the intersection of reason and tradition in Jewish thought. Rabbi Carmy and Rabbi Gottlieb animated the discussion with ideas drawn from classical mythology and the works of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein. The visit by these esteemed guest presenters was part of the weekly Straus Scholars seminar which examines the literature of C.S. Lewis in conversation with great works of the Jewish tradition. 

 


Lincoln and Jerusalem
 

Lincoln in Jerusalem

On Feb. 16, 2020, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought once again partnered with Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem for a sold-out event on the impact of the Hebrew Bible on America. READ MORE

 

 


Pepperdine
 

Politics and the Bible at Pepperdine

On Feb. 6, 2020, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy presented a panel on “The Role of Religion in Politics and the Role of Politics in Religion” celebrating the release of the Straus Center’s best-selling book Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States (Toby Press, 2019). READ MORE

 


Rembrandt
 

Remembering Rembrandt

On Jan. 21, 2020, Yeshiva University Museum hosted an evening dedicated to exploring “Rembrandt’s Legacy.” The conversation, attended by over 200, was introduced by Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the museum and associate professor of art history and was moderated by Straus Center director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. It featured a lecture and a fascinating discussion about the life and art of Rembrandt between philanthropist Thomas Kaplan and Arthur Wheelock Jr., former curator of northern baroque paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and professor of art history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Kaplan is the owner of the Leiden Collection, one of the largest assemblages of Dutch art in the world. Following a captivating lecture by Rabbi Soloveichik on Rembrandt’s renditions of biblical characters, the panelists discussed the legacy of the beloved artist in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of his death. READ MORE


Straus Scholars meet with Lord Sacks
 

Torah and Western Thought Across the Pond

From Jan. 13 to Jan. 16, 2020, the Straus Scholars of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought participated in a winter break trip to England, which featured seminars, site visits and exhibition tours centered upon the intersection of Torah and history, art, politics, and philosophy, as well as a seminar with Lord Jonathan Sacks. READ MORE

 

 


Book launch
 

From Mitzrayim to Manhattan

What can the Egyptian exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art teach us about the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt? Quite a bit, according to Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. READ MORE 

 

 


Israel Flag
 

Religious Identity or Cultural Connection?

Writing for Tradition, Straus Scholar Michael Weiner argues that deepening American Orthodox engagement with Israel is not a characteristic of a new religious identity, but rather an embodiment of traditional religious identity that has been carried over from two millennia of Diasporic Jewish life. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


On Shabbat Parshat Vayeshev, our resident scholar Chaya Sima Koenigsberg delivered a Seudah Shlishit shiur at the Mount Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights entitled, “A Kinah in Kislev.”
  

A Kinah in Kislev

On Shabbat Parshat Vayeshev, our resident scholar Chaya Sima Koenigsberg delivered a Seudah Shlishit shiur at the Mount Sinai Jewish Center in Washington Heights to a full audience entitled, “A Kinah in Kislev.” Her lecture, which took place on the 23rd day of Kislev, commemorated the murder of the most well-known medieval Jewish woman, Dolce of Worms, who was killed on the 22nd of Kislev in 1197. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


 

Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik addressing Stern students
 

New Bi-Weekly Seminar 

The Straus center launched a new bi-weekly seminar for the Beren Campus Straus Scholars led by Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik. The first work being addressed in the seminar is Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's famous speech Kol Dodi Dofek. READ MORE

 


Dr. David Shyovitz
 

The Holy Family

On November 20, 2019, Dr. David Shyovitz, Associate Professor in Northwestern University’s History Department, Director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies and author of A Remembrance of His Wonders: Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Ashkenaz, addressed Straus Center faculty and the Wilf Campus Straus Scholars in a fascinating lecture that examined the family life and the afterlife in medieval Jewish thought. READ MORE

 


BYU Logo
 

Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik Speaks at Brigham Young University

On November 19, 2019, Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Senior Advisor to the Provost and Senior Program Officer of the Straus Center Dr. Stu Halpern addressed a warm and welcoming packed house at Brigham Young University, in a celebration of the Center’s best-selling book Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States. READ MORE

 

 


Gil Troy
 

A New Approach to Zionist Education

On November 4, 2019, the Straus Center scholars and students in the Graduate Program In Advanced Talmudic Studies For Women of the Graduate Program (GPATS) had the pleasure of hearing from Gil Troy, the Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


 

Be, Become, Bless: Jewish Spirituality Between East and West

On October 28th, the Straus Center Scholars Program and GPATS hosted Rabbi Yakov Nagen for a joint lunch and learn. Rabbi Nagen, a graduate of Yeshiva College, RIETS, and the Bernard Revel Graduate School, completed his PhD in Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University and currently teaches Talmud and Kabbalah at the Otniel Yeshiva in Israel. His unique approach draws together traditional Jewish sources with ideas from Eastern religious traditions. READ MORE

 

 

 


Religious Freedom
 

Lively Debate on the Media and Religion at The Straus Center

On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center For Torah and Western Thought, the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society co-sponsored a panel discussion titled “The Media and Religion: Trends and Challenges.” The event took place at Congregation Shearith Israel Synagogue as part of the conference “What’s Next for Religious Freedom,” a two-day series featuring respected scholars and industry leaders participating in sessions including “Anticipating a Landmark Religious Liberty Decision: Are Smith’s Days Numbered?,” “Strategies and Conflicts Over Religious Liberty,” and “Advancing Religious Freedom through Faith-Friendly Workplaces, among others. READ MORE


Poyas-Mordecai House Garden in Charleston, South Carolina
 

Straus Semikha Fellows Culminate Rabbinic Seminar With Visit to Charleston, SC

As part of its ongoing study of the role of Judaism and Jews in Early America, the Program on Early America and the Jews at the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought returned to historic Charleston on June 11, 2018, this time with rabbinical students, to explore Jewish Life during the Civil War. READ MORE

 


Soloveichik and Podhoretz on stage in discussion
 

A Conversation of Biblical Proportions

What could be better than a night at the movies with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and John Podhoretz? Especially when the movies are about Moses? In a pre-Shavuot event in a packed auditorium at the YU Museum, the two men traded pointed observations as they screened film clips, exploring the depiction of Moses on film—and what those depictions say about our times and our culture. READ MORE

 

 


 

Finding Meaning in Modernity

On the eve of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut, Leon Kass, philosopher and bioethicist, and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, discussed memory, patriotism, Israel, and meaning in an animated dialogue at Congregation Shearith Israel. READ MORE

 

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