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…
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Renowned Attorney Nathan Lewin Discuss Landmark First Amendment Cases at Straus Center Event
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution begins with a bold statement: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” How that statement shapes the interaction of religion and the public sphere in modern-day America, however, has been the subject of heated debate throughout American judicial history.
President Richard M. Joel introduces Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, center, and attorney Nathan Lewin, second from right. Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik (left) moderated the panel.
That question and others like it were the focus of a conversation between United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and renowned attorney and Yeshiva College graduate Nathan Lewin, hosted by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and attended by a crowd of more than 1,200 in Yeshiva University’s Lamport Auditorium on November 6.
Straus Center Presents November 6 Conversation with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Attorney Nathan Lewin
Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought presents a conversation with United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and renowned attorney and Yeshiva College graduate Nathan Lewin on “Synagogue and State In America: The Landmark First Amendment Cases of our Age” on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 in YU’s Lamport Auditorium, 2540 Amsterdam Ave., New York City. The discussion, part of YU’s “Great Conversations on Religion and Democracy” series, begins at 7 p.m. and will be moderated by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center. Read the rest of this entry…
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Ruth Wisse Discuss Jewish Humor at Straus Center Event
In his introduction of Dr. Ruth R. Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik described her as a renowned scholar and courageously outspoken supporter of Israel, as an “eishet chayil” [woman of valor].
“You know what they say about the eishet chayil—she ran off with an officer,” quipped Wisse, playing on the Hebrew phrase’s other literal meaning, “wife of a soldier.”
The line was one of several funny moments at the Yeshiva University Museum, which hosted a conversation between Wisse and Soloveichik about Jewish jokes and Wisse’s newest book, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (Princeton University Press, 2013) Read the rest of this entry…
Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Discusses The Merchant of Venice, Modern-Day Anti-Semitism
Hundreds gathered on the morning of November 30 to hear Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik in a conversation on Torah, law and literature titled “The Merchant of Venice: A Jewish and British Reflection.” The event was the second one of the year hosted by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and marked Sacks’ second visit as a Straus Center guest.
Chief Rabbi Sacks and Rabbi Soloveichik discuss The Merchant of Venice at YU’s Straus Center event.
Sacks and Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center, began their discussion focusing on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In the play, Shylock’s obsession with justice is juxtaposed with Portia’s compassion, epitomized by her line: “The quality of mercy is not strained,” and continuing: “Therefore Jew, though justice be thy plea…we [Christians] do pray for mercy.”
“Shakespeare here is expressing the medieval stereotype of Christian mercy against Jewish justice,” said Sacks. “[However,] justice and mercy are not opposites. The false contrast between Judaism and Christianity in The Merchant of Venice is testimony to the cruel misrepresentation of Judaism in Christian theology until recently.” Read the rest of this entry…
From O.J. Case to Gaza War, Alan Dershowitz Confronts Moral Complexities at Straus Center Event
As Israel grappled yet again with the complex strategic and moral challenges of self-defense, Alan M. Dershowitz delved into a nuanced analysis of the obligations, merits and dangers of human justice in a conversation presented by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought on November 20.
Alan Dershowitz and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik at the November 20 Straus Center event
Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center, drew on many recent publications by Dershowitz, a world-renowned lawyer and political commentator and the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, in juxtaposition with the biblical travails of Abraham to frame the discussion, which addressed topics as far-reaching as capital punishment, post-Holocaust Germany and Dershowitz’s own part in the defense of O.J. Simpson against murder charges.
Straus Center Presents Conversation with Alan Dershowitz on November 20
Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought will present a conversation between Professor Alan M. Dershowitz and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik on Tuesday, November 20 at 7 p.m. in Weissberg Commons, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue, on YU’s Wilf campus. The event, titled “From Sodom to Nuremberg: A Conversation about Genesis, Justice and Law,” is free and open to the public.
The Straus Center hosts Alan Dershowitz on November 20.
Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, is a graduate of Yeshiva University High Schools and has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and Commentary. He is the author of 27 fiction and non-fiction works with a worldwide audience. Dershowitz’s most recent titles include Rights From Wrong, The Case For Israel, The Case For Peace and The Case For Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas and Gaza.
“As the Straus Center’s academic theme this year is ‘Jewish and Western Philosophies of Law,’ I am especially delighted and grateful that Professor Dershowitz, one of America’s most prominent figures in both the legal world and in Jewish public life, has graciously agreed to visit Yeshiva and engage our students,” said Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center. Read the rest of this entry…
A Potent Symbol of Jewish Life in America, the Eruv Gets Unprecedented Exhibition at YU Museum
It divides private and public, sacred and secular, work and Sabbath. And you might live in one without knowing it.
The elevated train track on 3rd Ave was the western border of Manhattan¹s first eruv. Chatham Square (pictured here) was on the western edge of the Lower East Side. (YU Museum collection)
The eruv is one of the most fascinating, though little understood and sometimes controversial concepts in Jewish life. Now, for the first time, it’s the subject of an exhibition—It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond—at the Yeshiva University Museum, near Union Square in Manhattan. Read the rest of this entry…