By Sam Gelman
Straus Center Communications and Program Officer
For spring 2022, the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, in collaboration with Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women, is offering numerous courses for Straus Scholars and Yeshiva University undergraduate students to study the great texts and traditions of the West and Judaism.
On the Beren campus, Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner is teaching Philosophy of Maimonides, while Dr. Neil Rogachevsky is offering Great Political Thinkers. Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik is teaching two courses downtown: Rabbis and Lords: The Jews of England and The Haggadah: A Classic of Jewish Political Thought. Finally, Dr. Shaina Trapedo will be offering a new course on Tehilim and the Human Condition.
“When my students fret over knowing what they want to say but not how to say it, I assure them they are in good company,” said Dr. Trapedo. “For centuries, poets, leaders, and Nobel Prize winners have relied on verses from the Psalms to convey their lament, intent, and aspirations. Together we will examine Sefer Tehillim’s unique capacity to furnish wisdom and inspire literary, oratorial efficacy, and excellence. I anticipate that together we will approach our study of the Psalms like ‘the mighty rejoicing to run the course’ (Tehilim 19:6).”
“It’s important for every thoughtful person, and especially for every student of politics and philosophy, to have some exposure to the works of thinkers in the Western tradition like Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli,” added Dr. Rogachevsky. “The study of these works helps students think about perennial questions of human life as well as the world around them today.”
One the Wilf Campus, Dr. Rogachevsky is also offering Great Political Thinkers, while Rabbi Shalom Carmy is bringing back his Character and Ethics course. Rabbi Dr. Lerner is bringing his very popular Stern College class on the Thought of Rabbi Sacks to Yeshiva College and is also co-teaching Milton and Religion with Dr. David Lavinsky of the English department.
“In an age of profound polarization, and the combination of decadence, doubt, and disorientation, Rabbi Sacks’ writings in the realms of theology, ethics, and politics, could not be more urgent or apt,” Rabbi Dr. Lerner noted. “Not only will we seek to secure the legacy of an inimitable thinker for the future, but we will explore his thought in a bid to address so many of the questions that we face today.”
The Straus Center is also offering Athens and Jerusalem, which compares and contrasts the thinkers of classical antiquity and Judaism, through its Graduate Certificate in Political and Social Thought. Co-taught by Dr. Rogachevsky and Rabbi Dr. Soloveichik, the class is open to Beren and Wilf campus juniors and seniors.