Yeshiva University News » Politics

MK Rabbi Shai Piron Discusses Halachic, Political and Educational Challenges Facing Israel

“The greatness of Yaacov was his capacity to convene the sacred to empower everyday and to realize that without the everyday there is no need for the sacred,” said YU Vice President of University and Community Life Rabbi Kenneth Brander of the biblical forefather before introducing Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s current minister of education and former Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Petach-Tikva. “Rabbi Piron’s personal and professional life has always been about bridging holiness to the everyday.”

Shai Piron

Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron addresses social and domestic issues facing Israel.

Rabbi Piron was greeted by a packed room of several hundred students and faculty members in Yeshiva University’s Furst Hall on Wednesday, November 13. His visit came only days after Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli diplomat and politician, was announced as the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at YU for the spring 2014 semester. Read the rest of this entry…

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Bob Woodward to Discuss Origins and Impact of Washington’s Dysfunctional Politics at Nov. 13 Robbins-Wilf Program

With the government shutdown and debt limit crisis still fresh on people’s minds, and immigration reform and other issues embroiled in partisan politics, Yeshiva University will host a discussion on “Washington’s Broken Politics” featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Woodward. The lecture, part of the Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence program, will be held on Wednesday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward will address Washington’s dysfunctional politics at the Nov. 13 Robbins-Wilf program.

“Politics in Washington has become so dysfunctional that public approval for Congress has sunk to nine percent and more than six in ten Americans would like to replace their own member of Congress—an unprecedented low opinion of Congress—while approval for the president is at 42 percent, an all-time low for President Obama,” said Bryan Daves, clinical assistant professor of political science at Yeshiva University and moderator of the event. “Just at a time in which Americans expect their leaders to deal with difficult problems, their leaders seem unable to put politics aside. To understand how we got here, the consequences of the dysfunction and the way forward, we invited one the nation’s most respected and experienced journalists to offer his unique insights.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Utku Sezgin: Can President Obama’s Proposals Succeed in a Gridlocked Congress?

State of the Union addresses are the annual wish-list presentations of American presidents, mixed with appeals to rally behind the leader of the nation.

SOTUThe addresses stem from the once-obscure mandate the Constitution gives presidents to submit proposals, recommendations and their political views to Congress. Until the 20th century, presidents mostly sent Congress written messages without any of today’s media-savvy pomp. In recent decades the speeches have become widely-anticipated political theater to be parsed for a sense of where a president aims to take the country. However, despite the modern presidency’s inflated powers, proposing bills to Congress and getting to sign bills containing those proposals later on is not the same thing.

President Barack Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term last night, doing his best to lay out his vision—emboldened by an electoral mandate—before a partisan, polarized, divided and oft-gridlocked Congress. But the future looks uncertain. Read the rest of this entry…


James Kahn Explains the Components and Consequences of the Looming Fiscal Cliff

As 2012 draws to a close, the United States government faces a financial crisis that has Republicans and Democrats divided. But what exactly are they fighting about and what is at stake for the country? Dr. James Kahn, the Henry and Bertha Kressel University Professor of Economics at Yeshiva University, breaks down the political and financial components of the fiscal cliff and explains how taxpayers could be affected if Congress fails to act.


Student Medical Ethics Society Examines Controversial Health Care Bill from Practical, Ethical and Halakhic Perspectives

American health care is facing its most comprehensive overhaul since 1965, and everyone from doctors to patients to employers will be affected. Often referred to as “Obamacare,” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became one of the most contested topics in this year’s presidential election, and its political, financial and ethical implications are still widely debated. On November 26, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society sought to debunk the myths and misconceptions about the controversial health care bill at an event that provided students with a practical walkthrough of the complex bill and analyzed it through the lens of ethics and halakha.

From left, Dr. Kevin O’Halloran, Dr. Herb Leventer and Rabbi Yosef Blau address students at “Obamacare: The Enigma Unveiled.”

Titled “Obamacare: The Enigma Unveiled,” the event began with a crash course in American medical history by Dr. Kevin O’Halloran, a senior resident at the Montefiore / Albert Einstein College of Medicine Department of Orthopedic Surgery who recently published a review article on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a facet of PPACA. O’Halloran highlighted the factors that set the stage for health care reform in 2010, noting that more than 16 percent of the population was uninsured that year, private and public health care expenditures in the United States had totaled more than 15 percent of the country’s GDP, and America ranked seven out of seven developed countries for “quality, efficiency, access, equity and healthy lives” according to the Commonwealth Fund. Read the rest of this entry…


How Social Media Helped Shape the Presidential Election

This year’s election night set new records in social media history. Twitter peaked at 327,000 tweets per minute and President Barack Obama announced his own reelection by tweeting a photo of himself embracing his wife with the caption “Four more years”—which quickly became the most shared image since the platform’s inception. Election night also doubled the previous record of 10 million tweets during the first presidential debate. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms experienced similar surges throughout the election season—surges Robert Longert, adjunct instructor of English, monitored closely with his social media class at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.

Using the presidential campaign as a model, Robert Longert and his Stern College class closely monitored engagement and trends in social media.

Longert’s class, Topics in Communication: Social Media, used the United States presidential election as a model to study the usage and spread of information over social media platforms. YU News spoke with Longert about how social media impacted the election and how it will continue to impact American culture in the future. Read the rest of this entry…

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From Welfare Reform to Taxes, Richard Caputo Explains Hot Button Issues of 2012 Election

With the debates over and the presidential election around the corner, YU News sat down with Dr. Richard Caputo, professor of social policy and research and the director of the PhD program in social welfare at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, to sort through all the campaign rhetoric. Breaking down each candidate’s stance on issues ranging from Social Security and Medicare reform to income inequality and tax cuts, Caputo provides an in-depth look at some of the issues that will weigh on the minds of voters on November 6. Read the rest of this entry…

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Vice Presidential Candidates and American Politics: Four Questions with Joseph Luders  

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is close to selecting his vice presidential running mate. According to several news reports, the short list includes Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former Minnesota Goverenor Tim Pawlenty, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. But how important is this choice?

Dr. Joseph Luders, is the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in Political Science at YU.

YUNews spoke with Dr. Joseph Luders, Yeshiva University’s David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in Political Science, about what factors presidential candidates consider in choosing a running mate, the impact a vice presidential nominee can have on a campaign, and how all of it plays out in the 2012 election. Read the rest of this entry…


Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host Michael Medved Discusses the Race for the White House

As the 2012 presidential race kicks into high gear, nationally-acclaimed conservative talk show host, film critic and political commentator Michael Medved shared his insights and predictions about election outcomes with Yeshiva University students on April 18.

Michael Medved speaks to YU students at a Republican Club event on April 18.

Medved, a Sabbath-observant host of the nationally syndicated The Michael Medved Show, speculated about Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy and a potentially unprecedented outcome of the election. Medved also discussed factors he felt affected the Jewish vote and reflected on his first experiences in politics, as a student working for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign during his junior year at Yale University.

“Every election, without exception, we’re told this is the most important and critical election of your lifetime,” said Medved. “They say that to get you to vote. But this election truly is exciting and unpredictable.”

According to Medved, Romney could potentially win the Electoral College, but there is a chance for a crushing win of the popular vote by incumbent President Barack Obama—a situation Medved said had not arisen in American politics since the 1876 presidential race between Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes. He outlined as well the strategy he felt could regain the White House for Republicans: conservative substance, moderate tone.

“Most people, when they vote, don’t vote for someone who inspires them, but against something they fear,” Medved said. “The Republicans need Romney to inspire and incite conservatives without scaring away moderates and people in the middle.”

The talk was hosted by the YU Republican Club and also featured a question-and-answer session, during which students and members of the public sought Medved’s take on everything from Romney’s best pick as running mate (“Senator Rob Portman is likely, but dull and safe. I like New Mexico Governor Suzanne Martinez for the job.”) to the possibility of a third party splitting the vote.

“Because Mr. Medved is both an observant Jew with a personal connection to the YU community and an influential political commentator, we felt he has an interesting perspective on the upcoming presidential election,” said Eitan Polster ’13YC, vice president of YU Republican Club. “His incredible success on the radio makes him a highly sought-after speaker and we were honored to host him to speak to us.  We felt that his ability to relate to millions of listeners on a daily basis gives him the unique ability to engage and captivate a diverse YU audience from all sections of the political spectrum.”

That was certainly true for Holly Hampton, a junior majoring in history at Stern College for Women, who described herself as a longtime Medved listener who first heard him on The Dennis Prager Show. “I really learned a lot about the upcoming election and it was interesting to hear his view of the Republican candidate and party,” she said.

For Medved, whose daughter Sarah is a graduate of Stern College and YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the opportunity to speak at YU also offered a chance to connect with students who were passionate about and invested in their future as American citizens and Orthodox Jews. “I’ve always been impressed by the bright and refined young people I’ve met here,” said Medved. “YU is a resource of talent within the Jewish community.”

Learn more about the 2012 presidential election from leading political experts at the Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence program on April 30.


Political Experts to Discuss the Role of Religion and its Impact on the Upcoming Presidential Election at April 30 Robbins-Wilf Program

With the presidential election campaign in full swing, Yeshiva University will host a discussion on “Religion and the 2012 Election” featuring PBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield, pollster Anna Greenberg and university professor and religion columnist Peter Steinfels. The lecture, part of the Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence program at YU’s Stern College for Women, will be held on Monday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Cultural Center, 239 East 34th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

Jeff Greenfield

“Religion has played a prominent role in the 2012 Republican primaries so far and looks poised to do so for the general election,” said Bryan Daves, clinical assistant professor of political science at Yeshiva University and moderator of the event. “In what many observers expect to be a very close race, issues related to religion could tip the balance. We are fortunate to have three of the keenest observers of American elections and the role of religion and public life to give us insights into how, why, and to what extent, religion will have an impact on how Americans will vote this year.”

One of America’s most respected political analysts, Jeff Greenfield has spent more than 30 years on network television and currently serves as an anchor on PBS’ Need to Know. A four-time Emmy Award-winner and columnist for Yahoo! News, he is known for his quick wit and savvy insight into politics, history, the media and current events. Greenfield has served as anchor booth analyst or floor reporter for every national political convention since 1988 and reported on virtually every important domestic political story in recent decades. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 12 books, including national bestselling novels Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics—JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan, The People’s Choice, The Real Campaign and Oh, Waiter! One Order of Crow!, an insider account of the contested 2000 presidential election.

Anna Greenberg

Anna Greenberg is a leading pollster and an expert in survey research methodology with nearly 15 years of experience. Since joining Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in 2001, Greenberg has worked with many elected officials and a wide range of NGOs and advocacy groups. Her areas of expertise include women and politics, LGBT rights, religion and politics, healthcare policy and drug policy reform. Greenberg is an active participant in the advanced analytics community; she leads the company’s advances in micro-targeting and understanding the impact of social media on public opinion.

Peter Steinfels

Peter Steinfels is a professor and co-director at the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture, former religion columnist for The New York Times, and a former editor of Commonweal, an independent biweekly journal of political, religious and literary opinion. A two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, he created and penned his biweekly column “Beliefs,” dealing with religion and ethics from 1990 to 2010. He is also the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America, The Neoconservatives, and co-edited Death Inside Out with Robert M.Veatch. Steinfels has contributed chapters to 17 other books and written articles and reviews for The New Republic, Esquire, Harper’s, Dissent, Le Nouvel Observateur, The Nation, Partisan Review and many other distinguished journals.

Dr. Robbins-Wilf, a founding member of the Stern College Board of Directors, established and funds the Scholar-in-Residence program, which brings top scholars, authors, artists and opinion makers to Stern College—offering students unique perspectives on the world. Admission is free and open to the public with valid photo ID and ticket, which can be reserved at

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