Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Senator Joseph Lieberman Discuss the Haggada’s Politics at Center for the Jewish Future Event
Hundreds of people gathered at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus on Sunday, March 22, to hear a pre-Passover conversation with former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman on “The Haggada’s Politics: From 2,000 Years Ago to Today.” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of YU’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, moderated the discussion.
In his introductory remarks, Rabbi Soloveichik highlighted the nature of the Haggada as a work of political Jewish thought. He also pointed out the Haggada’s deep attraction for America’s Founding Fathers. Read the rest of this entry…
Yeshiva University Presents March 22 Conversation with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Senator Joseph Lieberman
On Sunday, March 22, 2015, Yeshiva University will present a conversation with former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and former Senator Joseph Lieberman on “The Haggada’s Politics: From 2,000 Years Ago to Today.” The conversation, hosted by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future and the Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon and Mille Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon, will be held at YU’s Wilf Campus, 500 West 185th Street, New York City and begin at 10 a.m. Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of YU’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, will moderate the discussion. Read the rest of this entry…
Inaugural Rabbi Allan Mirvis Lecture Confronts and Contrasts Jewish Leadership Roles
Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, delivered the inaugural Rabbi Allan Mirvis lecture on Sunday morning, December 21, at the Shenk Community Shul on YU’s Wilf Campus. More than 150 attended the presentation, “Kohen, King, Rabbi, Rosh Yeshiva: Models of Jewish leadership from the Maccabees to Today,” part of the Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon and Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon Sunday Torah learning series.
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
In his presentation, Rabbi Soloveichik cited rabbinic sources, British coronation customs, and connected the weekly and Chanukah Torah readings and historical and personal anecdotes in comparing the roles of the Kohanim [priests] and Jewish kings with the current roles and actions of roshei yeshiva [professors of Talmud] and shul [synagogue] rabbis. He recounted the short-lived victory of the Hasmoneans over the Seleucids during the Second Temple, with the rededication of the Beit Hamikdash [Temple] in 165 BCE, noting the achievement of Jewish sovereignty “should be a holiday” but that it went “downhill from there” due to the subsequent behavior of the Hasmoneans. Read the rest of this entry…
Columnist George Will and NYU President John Sexton Discuss “Baseball, Tradition and God” at Straus Center Event
A rapt audience of 200 filled the seats of Yeshiva University’s Shenk Community Shul on Wednesday, December 17, to hear Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will and New York University President John Sexton discuss baseball and its relationship to religion and democracy. The event, titled “Baseball Tradition, and God,” was the latest in a series of “Great Conversations” presented by YU’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought.
George Will, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and John Sexton discuss “Baseball, Tradition, and God” at December 17 Straus Center event.
Introducing Will and Sexton as “two extraordinary athletes of the mind,” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center and moderator of the talk, opened his remarks by asking if baseball is simply a game or does it also teach us about the virtues of love, loyalty, fidelity and faith. He also connected the discussion to Chanukah, citing the clash of Hellenistic and Jewish culture.
Will, a Chicago Cubs fan, said he appreciates baseball for the game itself but asked why we, as a society, care so much. “We attach ourselves to a team and acquire a tribal identity.”
Rabbi Soloveichik said that Cubs fans accept “their fate with good cheer” and that it builds strong character—even if you try hard and long enough you’ll still lose. Read the rest of this entry…
Straus Center Presents December 17 Conversation with Columnist George Will and NYU President John Sexton
Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought presents a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will and New York University President John Sexton on “Baseball, Tradition and God” on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at Shenk Community Shul, 560 West 185th Street, New York City. The discussion, moderated by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center, will begin at 7 p.m.
Will is one of the country’s most widely-read political columnists, as well as its foremost conservative voice. His popular twice-weekly column for TheWashington Post syndicate reaches nearly 475 newspapers throughout the United States and Europe. Read the rest of this entry…
Straus Center Programs, Seminars and Lectures Promote Interdisciplinary Study of Jewish and Western Thought
What happens at the intersection of faith and reason?
It’s a complicated question whose depths have fascinated Jewish and gentile thinkers alike for thousands of years. Is it possible to be a religious intellectual? How does faith inform the scientific and philosophic discoveries of our time, and how do those discoveries in turn affect religious beliefs and lifestyles? Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought is committed to providing forums for Jews in the modern era to continue that conversation and arrive at their own understanding of the concept of “Torah Umadda”: the balance of Judaic and worldly values.
Noam Safier, a Straus Center Fellow
“In undergraduate courses, seminars for semicha [rabbinic ordination] students, adult education and public events, the Straus Center has brought about the bridging of Torah with the world in every part of Yeshiva,” said Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center. “In just the past year, students in our classes have approached, though a Torah lens, the fields of political thought, American history, law, Zionism, philosophy, art and medicine. We are so proud of having made the vision of Moshael Straus a reality: for Torah Umadda to never be merely a motto, but rather something that can be experienced throughout Yeshiva and the larger Yeshiva University community.”
Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson
The course will explore the process through which art and artists use physical means to achieve spiritual or intangible ends and the ways that Judaism and Jewish sources deal with the tension between the physical and the spiritual and between the visual and the intellectual.
“The course offers a unique opportunity to explore the compatibility of and tension between traditional Jewish thought and traditional art and art history,” said Wisse. “We will address the ways that Judaism is sensitive and responsive to the power and character of art, and also the ways the greatest artists channel ideas that we associate with Jewish ways of thinking. Read the rest of this entry…
At Straus Center Event, Author Daniel Gordis Discusses The Life and Legacy of Menachem Begin
A fiery revolutionary and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, a beloved founder of the State of Israel reviled by its first prime minister, a proud Jew but not a conventionally religious one: Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, was all of this and more. On April 1, Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought hosted an intimate evening of conversation at the Yeshiva University Museum with Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Daniel Gordis, author of the recent book Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul (Nextbook, April 2014), to discuss the complexities and contradictions of Begin’s life and legacy.
Left to right: YU President Richard M. Joel welcomes guests to an evening of conversation with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Daniel Gordis
“The two words that probably meant most to Menachem Begin were ‘Israel’ and ‘Jewish,’ and in his mind they were inextricably linked,” said YU President Richard M. Joel as he introduced the evening’s speakers. “At Yeshiva University, we reinforce the notion that Israel and Jewish identity have to be absolute, indivisible twins. We begin tonight by celebrating this year as the hundredth anniversary of Menachem Begin’s birth.”
YU Faculty Offer Insight into Historical, Political and Religious World of Esther
It’s the only book in the Bible to omit all mention of God, the Torah and the land of Israel. Aside from Genesis, it’s also the most written-about biblical work in the Talmud. Throughout the ages, the unique tension in the Book of Esther has made it one of the most fascinating books in Jewish tradition, and also one of the most deeply complex. On March 10, in honor of the upcoming festival of Purim, scholars from schools across Yeshiva University came together to discuss those complexities and their implications for Jewish thought and experience.
Menachem Begin Heritage Center Grant Supports YU Programming Honoring Former Prime Minister’s Legacy
Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought received a $100,000 grant from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem to sponsor a series of programs on Zionism and the Begin Legacy in honor of the former prime minister’s 100th birthday, which was commemorated in August.
Hart Hasten, right, with Menachem Begin
Hart Hasten, president of US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation was instrumental in securing the grant for YU. Phil Rosen, vice chairman of the Yeshiva College Board, and Hasten’s son Bernard, a member of the Yeshiva College Board, also played significant roles.
“Menachem Begin became my hero and my mentor, a role model and an icon,” said Hasten, who along with his wife, Simona, were close friends of Begin for 25 years. Read the rest of this entry…