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Faculty, Staff and Advisory Board

The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Faculty and Staff

Meir Y. Soloveichik

Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik: Director

Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik is director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan. He graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva College, received his semikha from RIETS, and was a member of its Beren Kollel Elyon. In 2010, he received his doctorate in religion from Princeton University. Rabbi Soloveichik has lectured throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. His essays on these subjects have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, First Things, AzureTradition, and the Torah U-Madda Journal.

Latest Writings

Stu Halpern

Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern: Deputy Director

Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern is Senior Advisor to the Provost (the chief academic officer) of Yeshiva University and Deputy Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and is responsible for developing educational and communal initiatives that bridge Torah and general studies. Dr. Halpern received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in Psychology in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University, a master’s degree in Bible from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Touro University, a doctorate in education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Education and Administration, and rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Chaim Brovender. He has edited or co-edited 16 books, including Gleanings: Reflections on RuthBooks of the People: Revisiting Classic Works of Jewish Thought; and Torah and Western Thought: Intellectual Portraits of Orthodoxy and Modernity, and has lectured in synagogues, Hillels, and adult Jewish educational settings across around the world.

Latest Writings 

Neil Rogachevsky

Dr. Neil Rogachevsky: Associate Director

Neil Rogachevsky is associate director and assistant professor at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, where he teaches and researches Israel studies and the history of political thought. His first book, which addresses the political theory of the founding of Israel, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in 2022. He received his PhD in history from the University of Cambridge in 2014. 


Latest Writings

Matt Holbreich

Dr. Matt Holbreich: Resident Scholar

Prof. Matthew Holbreich, earned his PhD in political science in 2011 from the Department of Political Science at Notre Dame University, where he was a Lilly Presidential Scholar. His dissertation, “Tocqueville and the French Tradition of Political Liberty,” argues that Rousseau, Constant, Guizot, and Tocqueville articulated a version of freedom that combines individuality and community. He is currently pursuing a JD at NYU School of Law, where he is a Jacobson scholar. Prof. Holbreich’s involvement with the Straus Center includes collaborating with Straus Center director Rabbi Soloveichik and Jonathan Silver on Proclaim Liberty, a source reader of foundational American documents inspired by the Jewish Bible; and serving as a guest lecturer in various Straus Center courses and programs, in which he has lectured on the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln.

Latest Writings

Dov Lerner

Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner: Clinical Assistant Professor

Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought—with responsibilities for teaching courses in the college, mentoring students, conducting research, and publishing writings reflective of the center’s intellectual emphases. He received both his BA in English literature and his semikha from Yeshiva University, and his MA, in Religion, and PhD, in the History of Judaism, from the University of Chicago's Divinity School. He lives in Queens, NY, with his wife and two children, where he serves as the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates.

Latest Writings 

Sarah Wapner

Sarah Wapner: Impact and Recruitment Officer 

Sarah Wapner is the Impact and Recruitment Officer at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. She previously taught politics, history, and Judaic studies at Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto, where she also coached the Model United Nations team. A native of Toronto, Sarah received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, where she majored in political science and Jewish studies. Sarah is an alumna of summer fellowships at the Tikvah Fund, the Hertog Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute, and she served as a consultant for Tikvah's College Division. Sarah is a graduate of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators, and she currently sits on the Tikvah Young Professionals Advisory Board.

Latest Writings 

Samuel Gelman

Sam Gelman: Editorial and Program Officer 

Sam Gelman is the Editorial and Program Officer at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought of Yeshiva University, where he is responsible for curating programming that bridges the Western and Jewish traditions. He earned his BA in political science from Yeshiva College and was the 2019 Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies valedictorian. He has been published in Moment Magazine and TVLine and has done research for Tablet and Yad Vashem.


Latest Writings 

Marc Eichenbaum

Rabbi Marc Eichenbaum: Rabbinic Researcher

Rabbi Marc Eichenbaum joined the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought as a rabbinic researcher after working as the rabbinic intern at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst. Rabbi Eichenbaum received his BA in psychology from Yeshiva University while being part of the Masmidim Honors Torah Studies Program and his semikha from RIETS. He is the recipient of the Dressler Scholarship for Clinical Social Work, which is awarded to students seeking to impact the Jewish community as future leaders, and is an AIPAC Leffell rabbinic fellow, where he trains to incorporate Israel advocacy into the Synagogue. In addition to working at the Straus Center, Rabbi Eichenbaum is a doctoral student in the School-Clinical Child PsyD program at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and a Jewish law teacher at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls. 

Latest Writings

Academic Advisory Board

Selma Botman

Dr. Selma Botman: Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Selma Botman, who grew up outside of Boston, holds a BA in psychology from Brandeis University, a BPhil in Middle Eastern studies from Oxford University and an AM in Middle Eastern studies and PhD in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. A scholar of modern Middle Eastern politics and society, she has published three books and a number of scholarly articles. She has also taught a range of courses on the modern Middle East and international development.

Karen Bacon

Dr. Karen Bacon: The Mordecai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Karen Bacon earned her bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Stern College for Women and served as valedictorian of her graduating class. She earned her doctorate in microbiology from the University of California at Los Angeles and did post-doctoral research both at UCLA and at Indiana University. A trend-setter, Dr. Bacon was appointed as the first Stern College alumna to be granted a full-time appointment at Yeshiva College, where she served for two years as Assistant Professor of Biology. Dr. Bacon has been Dean of Stern College for Women since 1977, and in 2015 she was appointed The Mordecai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In this enlarged role she also serves as the Dean of Yeshiva College and is working to unite the faculty on curricular initiatives, academic policies and research collaborations. Dr. Bacon has co-authored articles in scientific journals and books including the Journal of Bacteriology and the Journal of Ultrastructure Research. Other work include "A Biochemical Response to a Halakhic Challenge: The Case of the Ethiopian Jews" which appeared in the Torah U-Madda Journal, "Women and Jewish Education" in Tradition Magazine, and "Yeshiva University: A Model for Undergraduate Science Research" published in CUR Quarterly.

Cynthia Wachtell

Dr. Cynthia Wachtell: Founding Director, S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program & Research Professor of American Studies

Dr. Cynthia Wachtell, the founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program and a research professor of American Studies, earned her PhD in the History of American Civilization and an AM in English at Harvard University. She jointly earned an MA and a BA, summa cum laude, from Yale University in American Studies. She is also the editor of The Backwash of War: An Extraordinary American Nurse in World War I and author of the path-breaking study War No More: The Antiwar Impulse In American Literature1861-1914

Eliezer H. Schnall

Dr. Eliezer H. Schnall: Director of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program, Yeshiva College & Clinical Professor of Psychology

Dr. Eliezer Schnall is Clinical Professor of Psychology at Yeshiva University. His research interests include health psychology, psychology and religion, and multicultural clinical psychology, especially as it relates to Jewish clients. Dr. Schnall has published in such noted academic journals as Psychology and Health, Journal of Religion and HealthJournal of the History of the NeurosciencesJournal of Management History, and the Journal of Counseling and Development. He has lectured widely, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, on CBS television news, and in numerous other national and international media.

Affiliated Faculty

Shaina Trapedo

Dr. Shaina Trapedo: Adjunct English Professor at Stern College for Women

Dr. Shaina Trapedo teaches at Stern College and Manhattan High School for Girls, and is committed to exploring the connections between literacy, cultural identity, and social engagement in her teaching and scholarship. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, and her current book project, From Scripture to Script: David, Daniel, Esther and the Performance of Early Modern Identity, considers the affordances and risks of hermeneutic engagements on the Renaissance stage.

Jacob Wisse

Jacob Wisse: Associate Professor of Art History at Stern College for Women

Jacob Wisse is an Associate Professor of Art History at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University, where he has been named Lillian F. and William L. Silber Professor of the Year. He received his BA in Art History from McGill University; and his MA and Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, specializing in northern European art of the late Medieval and Renaissance eras. His book on City Painters in the Burgundian Netherlands is to be published by Brepols Press. In collaboration with Rabbi Dr. Soloveichik, he has developed and taught interdisciplinary courses that bridge visual culture and Jewish thought, such as The Image and the Idea, Rembrandt & the Jews – Art as Midrash in 17th-century Amsterdam, and Wholly Moses – in Art, Culture and Jewish Thought.

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