Yeshiva University News » YU Museum

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.

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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.

"Exploring Esther: The Origins, Values and Power of Purim” at the YU Museum

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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Yeshiva University and Jewish Publication Society Present Dec. 3 Event Celebrating Publication of Monumental Anthology

Yeshiva University and the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) will host a Hanukkah event on December 3 at the Yeshiva University Museum to celebrate the publication of Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture (JPS, December 2013).

Outside the BibleThe book, a three-volume anthology of Second Temple literature, was edited by Dr. Louis H. Feldman, the Abraham Wouk Family Chair in Classics and Literature at Yeshiva University; Dr. James L. Kugel, director of the Institute for the History of the Jewish Bible at Bar-Ilan University; and Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of Judaic studies at YU. Read the rest of this entry…

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Stern College for Women Course Places Art and Jewish Thought in Conversation

In some ways, a recent meeting of “The Image and the Idea,” a new course offered at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women this fall, looked like many other art history classrooms across the country.

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Dr. Jacob Wisse, left, speaks to students in the course about the Sistine Chapel.

Projected on the whiteboard was “The Creation of Adam,” the classic fresco painting by Michelangelo that graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Dr. Jacob Wisse, associate professor of art history and director of the Yeshiva University Museum, discussed the religious and historical context of the painting, Michelangelo’s sculptural style and his goals as an artist. Then, pausing for comments, he took one—from Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, assistant professor of Judaic studies and director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, sitting at a desk near the front of the room.

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YU Museum Exhibition Showcases Astonishing Pre-WWII Contributions of Jewish Mathematicians in German Culture

The people of the book have an illustrious legacy with numbers, as a fascinating new exhibition co-presented by the Leo Baeck Institute and Yeshiva University Museum reveals.

David Hilbert with friends, students and family.  Göttingen was considered the “Mecca” of mathematics in the early 20th century. The city achieved its international renown largely due to the influence of (the non-Jewish) David Hilbert and Felix Klein, aided by a large number of significant Jewish mathematicians and physicists. More than a few of Hilbert’s 73 doctoral students were Jewish, including Otto Blumenthal, Max Dehn, Felix Bernstein, Ernst Hellinger, Alfréd Haar, Richard Courant, Hugo Steinhaus, and Jacob Grommer. This extremely productive period came to an abrupt end with their exclusion and expulsion after 1933.

Mathematician David Hilbert with friends, students and family.

Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture showcases the astonishing contributions of Jewish thinkers to mathematical culture in Germany before the Nazis decimated their ranks.

Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) and the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) are partners at the Center for Jewish History in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City. YUM is dedicated to the presentation and interpretation of the artistic and cultural achievements of Jewish life. Read the rest of this entry…

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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…

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Eruvin Exhibition and Lecture Add Context and Insight to Daf Yomi Study

What purpose do eruvin [ritual enclosures] serve? Where can they be constructed? What makes them kosher?

As Jews around the world delve into the subject of eruvin for daf yomi, the daily cycle of Talmud study, Yeshiva University and the Orthodox Union sought to shed light on an ancient practice that is still very relevant to Jewish life today. An evening of programming on March 13 fused the historical, cultural and practical dimensions of eruvin showcased in a new Yeshiva University Museum exhibition with rich halakhic grounding provided by RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter. A leading halakhic authority, Schachter delivered a shiur [lecture] titled, “Eruvin: The Streets, the Strings and the Shabbat.”

“Seeing the issues faced by Manhattan and other Jewish communities in completing an eruv­—when a train track goes up and when it goes down, is the sea wall kosher or not—and hearing from such a wide range of people who struggled to bring klal Yisroel out of their homes on Shabbat takes Torah learning to a unique and different level,” said Edward Stelzer ’90YC, a member of the YU Museum’s board of directors. “Many of us don’t have an opportunity to check an eruv on any given Friday, but this museum has the power to help us internalize the issues of eruvin and experience them almost firsthand by bringing the topic home to us in an immersive, powerful way.” Read the rest of this entry…

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YU and OU Mark Start of Masechet Eruvin in the Daf Yomi Cycle with Special Lecture and YU Museum Tour 

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and Yeshiva University Museum will be hosting a special lecture for all audiences by YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter to mark the beginning of Masechet Eruvin in the Daf Yomi study cycle.  The lecture, titled “Eruvin: the Streets, the Strings and the Shabbat,” will be presented in cooperation with the Orthodox Union on March 13 at the YU Museum in Manhattan and complements the YU Museum’s exhibition It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond (on display through June 30).  A curatorial tour and viewing of the exhibition will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7:00 p.m.  The YU Museum is located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th Street, near Union Square. Read the rest of this entry…

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Covenant Foundation Awards YU Museum Grant for Educational Partnership with Lincoln Center Institute 

On the basis of an innovative arts-based educational program, Yeshiva University Museum is the recipient of a prestigious Signature Grant from The Covenant Foundation, which develops and supports Jewish education and community-building projects and programs in the U.S.

Yeshiva University Museum will receive $135,900 over three years to expand Re-Imagining Jewish Education through Art, an initiative that uses the arts and critical inquiry to enhance and deepen learning and appreciation of Jewish texts and of art.

Through the program, the museum adapts an arts-based educational approach and philosophy pioneered by the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education, and re-conceives and applies it in Jewish schools. Read the rest of this entry…

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Dov Lerner on Yeshiva University Museum’s Eruv Exhibition

Shabbat is designed to be a day of rest, relaxation and communal prayer. Due to halakhic restrictions on their carrying items from one place to another, however, observant Jews can become prisoners in their own homes. The rabbis, therefore, wherever they could, came up with a way to circumvent this issue: the eruv. The word literally means “mixture”; and views on the eruv are themselves mixed and hotly debated. The Yeshiva University Museum now has an exhibition devoted to the eruv called, “It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond.” The museum launched the exhibition with a day-long symposium reflecting the debates that the eruv has occasioned.

Among the Sabbath laws is an injunction against transferring an object from a private to a public space or moving it within the public space itself. The prohibited activity is often simply called “carrying.” The activity is heavily regulated, and the rules are complex. Halakhic literatures are occupied by questions of how to define a public or private space and what constitutes a transfer.

For purposes of this idea of “carrying,” the rabbinic discussions generally identify four types of space: reshut harabim, or public space; reshut hayahid, or private space; makom patur, an exempt area; and karmelit, related to the word for “garden,” which is legislatively treated as a kind of limbo, a public space that nevertheless has some characteristics of private space.  The karmelit is the only space around which the construction of an eruv is permitted. The eruv’s artificial architecture—often consisting merely of poles and wires—defines the confines of the space as private and, thus, allows carrying within its bounds. Read the rest of this entry…

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