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…
Students, Faculty and Alumni Honored as Points of Light at Hanukkah Dinner
Students, faculty and alumni who embody the mission of Yeshiva University were recognized as “Points of Light” during the dinner portion of Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria on December 14.
“The lesson of Hanukkah is that the Jewish people must cast the light of our values onto the world,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “Tonight, we publicize the lights that represent the past, present, and future of Yeshiva University.”
Read more about the Points of Light below. 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 The Washington 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.”
This fall, that includes a new undergraduate fellowship directed by Dr. Aaron Segal, assistant professor of philosophy at Yeshiva College; a semicha seminar for select YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary students taught by Rabbi Dr. David Shabtai, a fellow of RIETS’ Wexner Kollel Elyon; and multiple courses at Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women exploring the Center’s themes. Read the rest of this entry…
Straus Center and Honors Program Event Provides Practical Comparison of American and Talmudic Law
Why do appellate courts exist? What role do fellow judges play in the decision-making process? What is the most difficult legal case you have ever decided?
These were all questions posed to both Judge Joseph Greenaway and Rabbi Yona Reiss at an engaging event hosted by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought together with the Stern College for Women’s S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program to discuss their experiences in law and how the American and Talmudic systems approach legal circumstances.
Professor Adina Levine moderates the discussion between Judge Joseph Greenaway and Rabbi Yona Reiss
The panel discussion, moderated by Professor Adina Levine, who is instructing the Stern Honors course, “Comparative American and Talmudic Law”—sponsored by the Straus Center—touched on issues of enforceability, criminal justice systems, anti-trust laws, and the role of lawyers in the court. In dynamic conversation with each other and the audience, Greenaway and Rabbi Reiss discussed parts of the legal decision process as well as instances when both American and Talmudic law must be considered.
“I have found that it is very helpful for a dayan [Jewish law judge] to have a legal background,” said Rabbi Reiss 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.”
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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.
Dr. Aaron Koller and Yael Leibowitz
Co-hosted by the Yeshiva University Museum, Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, the evening, titled “Exploring Esther: The Origins, Values and Power of Purim,” focused on the historical and political context, religious significance and gender roles in Esther. Panelists included Dr. Aaron Koller, assistant dean and associate professor of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva College; Yael Leibowitz, instructor in Bible at Stern College; Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center; and Dr. Daniel Tsadik, assistant professor of Sephardic and Iranian studies at Revel.
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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.
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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…