Straus Center Newsletter: Sept. 6, 2021

News and Events

Was Alexander Hamilton Jewish?

Former Straus Center senior research fellow Andrew Porwancher’s The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton, a new book receiving international press coverage, looks at Hamilton’s origins and determines that he was, in all likelihood, born and raised Jewish. Read more»

Meet the 2021-2022 Straus Scholars

The Straus Center is excited to welcome a new cohort of Straus Scholars to campus. This year’s group hails from all across the country — from New Jersey to Massachusetts to California — and plans on studying a multitude of topics, including political science, biology, and computer science. Read more»

First Hebrew-English Edition of Megadim

Herzog College, in partnership with Yeshiva University Press, published its first Hebrew English edition of Megadim, an academic journal of original analyses on the Hebrew Bible written by top Israeli scholars and co-edited by Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern. Read more»

Straus Staff in the Media

The Sound of Silence: Inside the Sanctum Sanctorum

The central moment of the Avodah was the ketoret, the incense in the Holy of Holies. And yet, instead of breaking out into prayer, when the high priest entered the sanctum sanctorum, he stood speechless as the smoke rose. Why did he stand in absolute silence? Why did he not implore the almighty at this ineffable moment? Watch here»

When Should Law Forgive?

Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern reviews Martha Minow’s When Should Law Forgive?, which unpacks the possibilities of forgiveness in a contemporary legal scope. Read more»

The Most Famous Artistic Image of Yom Kippur

Maurycy Gottlieb’s Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur has been called one of the most famous Jewish artistic works, and the most well-known image of Jewish prayer. So why does it appear that most of the individuals in the painting do not seem to be praying at all? Watch here»

Shakespearean Shipwrecks, the Drama of Jonah, and Yom Kippur

The story of Jonah, runaway prophet and ambiguous penitent, inspired some of the most compelling pieces of prose in the West — from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. What about this biblical episode makes it a fitting reading for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar? Watch here»

Kol Nidrei in Culture, History, and Behavioral Economics

The haunting intonation of Kol Nidrei sets the tone for Yom Kippur. However, there is nothing in this recitation that points to the themes of the Day of Atonement. What is the meaning of this mysterious prayer? Watch here»

Satanic Verses and the Sound of the Shofar

Jewish tradition teaches that every single night we should identify Satan as an enemy and pray for his demise. So we ask: Who is Satan? Watch here»

Jonah: The Sequels

Writing for the Jewish Review of Books, Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern examines ancient and modern retellings, Jewish and secular, of the book of Jonah, which is read on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Read more»

The Fast for the Furious

Writing for Tablet, Straus Center Deputy Director Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern explains why Tzom Gedaliah is the observance our angry society desperately needs. Read more»


Exploring Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible

Welcome to Twice Blest, a podcast from the Yeshiva University Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. Hosted by Dr. Shaina Trapedo, Twice Blest brings you conversations with faith leaders, scholars, and writers that bridge the wisdom of Judaic and classical texts so we can live more informed and fulfilling intellectual and spiritual lives on an individual and communal level. Listen here»