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Essays by Straus Scholars

The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought

Portrait of 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. 



Painting of men standing around some with face masks

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.



Painting of an ancient structure

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.



Headshot of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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.




Zoom logo

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. 



Headshot of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook

Rav Kook's Vision

For his senior thesis, Straus Scholar Eliott Dosetareh examines the thoughts of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook in Hebrew Universalism: The Future Vision of Rav Kook. 




Opening soon sign

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.




Building dome

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.



Painting of an ancient city with smoke and flames

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.




Israeli 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.



Portrait of Lincoln

Sermon From the Capitol Hill

Straus Scholar Ben Atwood looks at the biblical language that President Abraham Lincoln used during his second inaugural address.





Painting of people sitting all together with one man standing and raising his hand

The Slavery Debate

Straus Scholar Jonathan Fenster examines how Jews approached the issue of slavery in the time of the Civil War. 

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