On Wednesday, October 31, YU Ideas, an initiative hosted by the Office of the Provost of Yeshiva University and spearheaded by Dr. Stuart Halpern, senior adviser to the Provost, presented two panel discussions entitled “Power, Politics and Leading a Nation.” The panel discussions took place at the Honors College program at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) and the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College.
YU Ideas also hosted a third panel discussion in the evening, titled “Power, Politics and Entrepreneurship,” at Stern College for Women.
Panelists for the first two events included Dr. Sharon Poczter, chair of strategy and entrepreneurship at the Sy Syms School of Business; Dr. Neil Rogachevsky, associate director and research fellow at the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought; and Matthew Incantalupo, assistant professor of political science at Yeshiva College.
The moderator at MTA was Dr. Seth Taylor, principal for general studies; the moderator for the Schottenstein Honors Program was Dr. Ronnie Perelis, the Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Abraham and Jelena (Rachel) Alcalay Chair, associate professor of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and director of the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs. The Schneier Program was also a cosponsor of the two panel discussions.
The panelists for the evening event included Dr. Sharon Poczter; Dr. Richard Hidary, associate professor of Jewish history at Stern College; and Dr. Matthew Holbreich, resident scholar at the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. The panel was sponsored by Yeshiva University Democrats, Stern College for Women Student Council, Yeshiva Student Union and Yeshiva University College Republicans.
The three panels together investigated the links among the structures of the U.S. economy, political and social inequality and the moral framework for making political and economic decisions. Given the run-up to the midterm elections on Nov. 6, much of the discussion in the first two panels also touched upon voting and political participation, with Incantalupo arguing that voting needs to be made much easier for people and that campaign financing needs to be changed. Dr. Poczter emphasized the importance of being in involved in local politics since most significant change in people’s lives comes through local initiatives. Dr. Rogachevsky praised the “wisdom of the young voter.”
The evening panel focused on the connections among power, politics and entrepreneurship. Dr. Poczter argued that the role of government is to provide the structures that promote entrepreneurship and then let the market determine winners and losers. Dr. Hidary and Dr. Holbreich focused on religious and intellectual entrepreneurship, speaking about how figures as disparate as Jeremiah and John Locke forwarded ideas and moral sentiments that undergirded large-scale social changes. Together, the three panelists agreed that the United States presents a difficult case of balancing a dynamic economic regime with efforts at social justice.