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The Tikvah Advanced Institutes

Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2015

The Tikvah Advanced Institutes aim to provide accomplished professionals from around the globe the opportunity to study big ideas, great texts, and current issues with some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. Institute Participants will receive a generous stipend that will cover living expenses in New York City or Jerusalem during their time there.

Upcoming Institutes

The Ethics of War

April 27, 2015 – May 1, 2015

Instructors: James M. Dubik and Stephen Peter Rosen
Stipend: $1,000 (NYC area residents); $2,000 (Domestic US); $3,000 (International)
Application Deadline: February 2, 2015

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This institute will think morally about war by looking at a series of key moments and great texts in military-political history: How do we evaluate the moral decisions of ancient peoples—such as the Athenians as portrayed in the Melian dialogue, or the Israelites as portrayed in the book of Joshua? Why firebomb the cities of Germany and Japan in World War II? Why not bomb death camps at Auschwitz? And what about recent struggles—in Bosnia, in Iraq, and in Gaza? Or future dilemmas—such as the possibility of a nuclearized Middle East? With the aid of Gen. James Dubik and Stephen Rosen, we will analyze these cases in a way that takes seriously the political and strategic dilemmas, so that our moral judgments are grounded in the real choices that leaders and citizens face, both in deciding when to fight and how to fight.

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Tradition and Freedom: Philosophy, Theology, Literature

June 8, 2015 – June 18, 2015

Instructors: Yuval Levin, Jacob J. Schacter, and Ruth Wisse
Stipend: $2,000 (NYC area residents); $3,500 (Domestic US); $5,000 (International)
Application Deadline: February 2, 2015

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What is tradition? What is it good for? Does tradition constrain freedom, or is it the necessary condition to sustain freedom? What types of regimes are conducive to inherited ways of life, and what types of regimes denigrate the past in the name of progress and innovation? This institute will examine these questions in three distinct bodies of work relevant to contemporary Jews. Political theorist and policy intellectual Yuval Levin will lead us in an effort to explore some of the tensions between philosophy and tradition in Western thought and between freedom and tradition in modern politics. Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter will show how similar themes—including the role of “collective memory” for Jewish culture, the place of tradition in a world that venerates individual choice, and the countercultural ethic of submission to a set of “revealed truths”—are reflected in rabbinic thought. And Professor Ruth Wisse will help us to see, through the eyes of Jewish literature, how the original clashes between tradition and modernity continue to inform our contemporary choices.

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Past Institutes

The Case for Nationalism

December 8, 2014 – December 12, 2014

Instructor: William Kristol

fall2014-nationalism-thumb-200x200Is national pride to be celebrated or feared? Is “national interest” a noble idea? Do nations have a future—and should they have a future? Or is the world moving toward a new age of cosmopolitan internationalism, trans-national ideologies, and sub-national tribalism? Led by Dr. William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, this institute will examine the political and moral questions surrounding nationalism and nation-states. The course will begin by examining the case for and against nationalism, drawing upon some of the major works of modern political theory. It will then look in detail at three “regimes”—Europe, America, and modern Israel—drawing upon a mix of classic texts, speeches, and case studies.

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Jews and Power: Literature, Philosophy, Politics

December 1, 2014 – December 12, 2014

Instructors: Ruth Wisse, Ran Baratz, and Elliott Abrams

fall2014-jews_power-thumb-200x200For the last many centuries, the extraordinary achievements of the Jewish people and their prodigious contributions to Western civilization have all taken place without the one thing that most defines a nation: the political and military power to protect its citizens and sovereign land. With the return of sovereignty, what is the proper relation of Judaism and Jewish tradition to political and military power? Led by Harvard University professor Ruth Wisse, Israeli intellectual and Mida editor Ran Baratz, and former deputy national security adviser and Middle East expert Elliott Abrams, this course will explore the dilemmas of Jewish power. Drawing upon the Hebrew Bible, modern Jewish literature, biographies of Jewish statesman, and various historical case studies, we will explore both the spirit of the Jewish mind and the realities of modern Jewish political condition.

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The Hebrew Bible and Jewish Excellence

November 30, 2014 – December 4, 2014

Instructor: Micah Goodman

fall2014-hebrew_bible-thumb-200x200The Hebrew Bible shaped and inspired some of the greatest leaders and figures of the modern Jewish age in politics, in religious life, in philosophy, and in literature. Led by Israeli intellectual and scholar Dr. Micah Goodman, this course will examine several prominent 20th-century Jewish leaders—including David Ben-Gurion, S. Y. Agnon, Leo Strauss, and Joseph Soloveitchik—to see how their immersion in the Bible helped to form their worldview. For each figure, we will consider key selections from the biblical text as well as essays, stories, and histories that bring to life these leaders’ ideas and achievements.

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The Western Tradition of Liberty

November 16, 2014 – November 20, 2014

Instructors: Ran Baratz and Peter Berkowitz

fall2014-tradition_liberty-thumb-200x200In Israel, the United States, and all the democratic nations of the West, a great debate is unfolding about the nature of freedom. Led by political theorist Peter Berkowitz of Stanford University and Israeli public intellectual and Mida editor Ran Baratz, this institute will explore the past, present, and future of the idea of freedom and the tradition of liberty. How does liberty contribute to prosperity and happiness? How does it relate to Judaism, and the unique character of the Jewish State? What threats—foreign and domestic—confront liberty in the western nations, and what resources—spiritual, cultural, political, material—can the liberal democracies count on to preserve their founding promise?

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Capitalism and the Future of Democracy

November 10, 2014 – November 21, 2014

Instructors: Yuval Levin and Christopher DeMuth

fall2014-capitalism-2-thumb-200x200What is the relationship between capitalism and democracy? Does economic liberty serve and strengthen political freedom, or does the pursuit of self-interest undermine the moral qualities necessary for political freedom? Does modern democracy ensure a free and flourishing economy, or do the egalitarian ideals of democratic man require limitations on market competition and an ever-expanding welfare state? Led by Yuval Levin, founding editor of National Affairs, and Christopher DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, this institute aims to explore the fundamental questions of political economy, by drawing upon classic texts of modern economic and democratic thought, and then looking at key modern debates and policy dilemmas now facing the advanced democracies of the world.

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Israeli National Defense: Security Doctrine and the Balance of Forces

November 9, 2014 – November 13, 2014

Instructor: General Yaakov Amidror

fall2014-israeli_natsec-thumb-200x200In the State of Israel, most citizens serve in the army and many citizens serve in the reserve forces. Yet despite this first-hand military experience, there is a lack of high-level public discourse regarding many of the foundational issues that relate to the military capabilities of Israel’s defense forces. Led by former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, this institute will focus on three central issues where the lack of serious national discussion is a problem. Our hope is that the ideas discussed and the participants involved in this institute will make a major contribution to defining Israel’s true security needs in the years ahead.

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Religious Freedom in America

November 3, 2014 – November 7, 2014

Instructors: Meir Soloveichik and Michael W. McConnell

fall2014-religious_freedom-thumb-200x200What is the role of religion in American public life, and how should religious communities understand religious liberty? Led by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University and former federal judge Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School, this institute will explore the historical background, philosophical foundations, and current controversies about the idea of religious freedom in America. We will then move to a discussion of key political and legal disputes at the crossroads of democratic politics and religious freedom, including debates about marriage law, public support for religious schools, decisions related to healthcare and insurance, and the adoption of children.

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Zionist Statesmanship: Ben-Gurion and Begin

August 3, 2014 – August 8, 2014

Instructor: Daniel Gordis

Can one speak meaningfully of a distinct craft of “Zionist Statesmanship”? Of what might such a craft be constructed, and on what issues would it hinge? One way of examining this set of questions is to look at the lives of David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin, bitter archrivals who – though each played a pivotal role in the creation of the State of Israel and eventually served as Prime Minister – had profoundly different views on the Jewish use of power, the place of Jewish text and tradition in the formation of Jewish policy, and the degrees to which Jewish statesmanship ought to be rooted in the past as opposed to focused on achieving a better future.

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Divine Justice and Human Creativity in Jewish Literature

August 3, 2014 – August 8, 2014

Instructor: Dara Horn

In the biblical Book of Job, Job’s challenge to God—“Why do people suffer undeservedly?”—is oddly answered with God’s challenge to Job: “Why aren’t you as creative as I am?” This advanced institute will address these twinned questions—the dilemma of divine justice and the related dilemma of human limits—through the lens of both ancient and modern Jewish literature.

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The Rabbinic Mind and Divine Law

August 3, 2014 – August 8, 2014

Instructor: Christine Hayes

What does it mean to say that a text is divine and the norms it teaches are divine? Attributing divinity to a normative system or law would appear to establish its authority and justify our fidelity to it, but how and why does it do so? What traits do we suppose a law possesses when we refer to it as divine and why do we suppose that those traits will establish its authority and justify our fidelity?

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Reason, Revelation, and Jewish Thought

July 28, 2014 – August 1, 2014

Instructor: Moshe Halbertal

Is reason a sovereign authority in the realms of morality and metaphysics? Led by the prominent philosopher Moshe Halbertal, this institute will explore this question through Biblical, Rabbinic, and Medieval Jewish texts. Is there recognition of independent moral obligation outside of revelation within Jewish tradition? What role do value judgments have in the interpretive process and in the development of Jewish law, generally? What role does Jewish philosophy assign to reason in shaping and orienting faith? This last issue will be dealt with by reading Maimonides’ Guide, and the controversy that evolved around Maimonides positions.

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Jews, Power, and the Bible

July 28, 2014 – August 1, 2014

Instructor: Micah Goodman

Dr. Goodman, Israeli author of bestsellers on the thought of Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi and founder of Ein Prat Academy, will focus on prominent biblical texts that address the challenges of power and sovereignty. The story of the Jewish people in the 20th century is a movement from persecution and powerlessness to sovereignty and power. The story of biblical Israel also sees a powerless people gaining land and negotiating political power’s promise and peril. On the hypothesis that the history of modern Zionism mirrors biblical history, this institute seeks to illuminate Zionist thought through the biblical lens.

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Is Judaism a Religion?

July 28, 2014 – August 1, 2014

Instructor: Leora Batnitzky

From the eighteenth century onward, modern Jewish thinkers have been concerned with the question of whether or not Judaism can fit into the modern category of religion. After all, Judaism has historically been a religion of law, and hence of practice. Adherence to religious law, which is in some measure public in nature, does not seem to fit into the category of faith or belief, which by definition is individual and private. In this advanced institute we will see that the clash between the modern category of religion and Judaism as it has been traditionally practiced gives rise to many of the creative tensions in modern Jewish thought as well as to the question of whether Judaism or Jewishness are matters of religion, culture, or nationality.

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The Future of the Family

July 7, 2014 – July 18, 2014

Instructors: Eric Cohen, Gilbert Meilaender, Dara Horn, Meir Soloveichik, W. Bradford Wilcox, Jack Wertheimer, Ryan Anderson, and Jonathan Last

This seminar will examine the state of the family in modern society and the idea of the family as explored in some of the great theological, philosophical and literary texts of the Judeo-Christian West—from the Hebrew Bible, to Plato and Shakespeare, to Tolstoy and Sholem Aleichem, to Simone de Beauvoir and Joseph Soloveitchik. We will explore the big arguments about the meaning of the family, as well as the facts and trends that show us how the institution of the family is truly faring in modern times. And we will look at a range of concrete reform ideas—both cultural and political—that aim to strengthen family life for the generations ahead.

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War and Human Nature

June 9, 2014 – June 20, 2014

Instructors: Frederick W. Kagan, Barry Strauss, Eric Edelman, Charles Hill, and Stephen Rosen

This course will explore the place of war in human life from a variety of angles: what drives men to fight; what makes war moral or immoral; how soldiers and civilians live with the specter of killing and dying; what war means for statesmen and generals, for ordinary soldiers and passionate revolutionaries, for wives and children. Drawing on a mix of classical texts, war histories, and modern studies of warfare, the seminar will explore the ways in which statesman and strategists think about the deeper human questions, and how our moral ideas about the meaning of war shape different war strategies. We will also look at what the new sciences of man—especially evolutionary biology and neuroscience—may teach us about the place of war in human life; and how new technologies—especially weapons of mass destruction and the use of drones—are shaping and re-shaping the human meaning of war, for better and perhaps, tragically, for much, much worse.

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The Jewish Idea of God

May 27, 2014 – June 1, 2014

Instructors: Micah Goodman and Clifford Orwin

If ideas have something like gravitational force, then the idea of God is as powerful and massive an idea as any. A change in one’s notion of the divine shapes and re-shapes the other ideas that govern our lives—ideas about power, freedom, time, meaning, and politics, just to name a few. This seminar will explore how the Jewish idea of God has affected the way we think about the human condition. Drawing on select texts from Genesis, Deuteronomy, Ecclesiastes, and Plato, we will ask big moral and political questions: Do biblical ideas promote a restless, active politics aimed at bringing the divine plan to fruition in history, or a moderate and humble political philosophy that understands the limits of human agency? What is the relationship between God, man, and nature? How does the idea of the Messiah alter the fundamental tenets of Jewish theology? Should the messianic age be understood as an escape from a world dominated by politics or a completion and perfection of such a world?

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Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Jews

May 12, 2014 – May 23, 2014

Instructors: Peter Berkowitz, Yuval Levin, Meir Soloveichik, William Kristol, and William Galston

Most Jews have strong political beliefs—about the role of government, the uses of power, the meaning of social justice, and the proper place of religion in public life. But what, if anything, do these varying beliefs have to do with Judaism? Should Jewish politics be governed by what Judaism teaches, or by what is best for the Jews? In contemporary political life, should Jews be liberals or conservatives? This seminar will explore these questions as a problem of political philosophy, drawing on both the foundational texts and ideas of modern liberalism and conservatism and the Jewish writings, classical and modern, that suggest a uniquely Jewish political persuasion.

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The Israeli Economy: A Strategy for the Future

April 28, 2014 – May 2, 2014

Instructors: Dan Senor and Ohad Reifen

This course will examine the various dimensions of the modern Israeli economy, with a view to defining a strategy for promoting economic growth, strengthening the social fabric, and sustaining Israeli power and Jewish sovereignty. Led by prominent public intellectual, investor, and Start-Up Nation author Dan Senor and SUN Institute policy director and former Israeli budget department official Ohad Reifen, this course will explore both a series of fiscal policy ideas, as well as the sources of Israeli entrepreneurship. It will include discussions with prominent Israeli political leaders and high-tech entrepreneurs, looking back and looking ahead at how economic vitality can help sustain the Zionist project.

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Moments of Decision, Great Debates: Judaism in the 20th Century

November 18, 2013 – December 12, 2014

Instructors: Elliott Abrams, Michael Doran, Henry Kissinger, Allan Arkush, Ran Baratz, and Jacob J. Schacter

jaboThe history of the Jewish people in the 20th century is one of great dramas in human history—with tragedies and triumphs, ideological battles and great leaders, heroic achievements and existential failures, that together offers an education in the problems and possibilities of mankind writ large. For Jews, this history defines where we have been and who we have become; and it sets the terms for what we should do and how we should live, as a people and a nation, in the decades ahead. This course will study 20th century Jewish history by looking at a few of these key leaders, moments, and debates.

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The Future of the Welfare State

November 4, 2013 – November 7, 2013

Instructors: James Capretta

financial crisisOver the past few years, the advanced democracies of the world have suffered a series of painful economic upheavals. While still quite prosperous by the standards of history, modern individuals and modern nations look to the future with anxiety and uncertainty—fueled by rising national debt burdens, aging populations, and rapid economic changes that make existing industries and jobs quickly obsolete. And while the political debates rage on about what to do—more government or less government, more competition or more regulation—very few nations have enacted policy reforms that are sensible and sustainable for the decades ahead. This course will explore the future of the modern welfare state, looking at both specific reform ideas and the deeper questions we face about who we are and how we live.

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The Modern Jewish Condition: A Study in Yiddish Literature

October 28, 2013 – November 7, 2014

Instructors: Ruth Wisse

sholemThe demographic surge in European Jewry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries generated a parallel surge of writing in Yiddish, the vernacular of Ashkenzi Jews and their descendants. The varieties of modern Jewish life were formulated and argued out in several languages, but Yiddish was the dominant register for articulating the joys and anxieties, laughter and misery, yearnings and ruptures that attended this phase of modern Jewish life. Selected from the immense body of Yiddish writing, Harvard professor Ruth Wisse will guide us through a few of its most penetrating and provocative works by Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Chaim Grade, and others.

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The Foundations of a Free Economy: Hayek and His Critics

October 7, 2013 – October 31, 2013

Instructors: Christopher DeMuth,Yuval Levin, Paul A. Rahe, and James Otteson

hayekWhat is the proper relationship between the individual and state? Which type of social order is the most just, the most prosperous, and the most realistic given the lessons of history and truths of human nature? In no small measure, the 20th century was shaped by competing answers to these great questions, and in all likelihood so too will the century ahead. One of the central figures in these debates was the economist and social theorist F.A. Hayek, and this course will focus on the careful study of his seminal work, The Constitution of Liberty. Hayek will be understood as part of a grand conversation about economics and politics, and we will look at both his predecessors—Aristotle, Locke, Smith—and his greatest rivals—especially John Maynard Keynes.

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The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

October 7, 2013 – October 11, 2013

Instructor: Yuval Levin

adam smithOur ideas about economics are closely linked to our ideas about the good life and good society. What is wealth, and is prosperity the key to individual happiness and national well-being? How is wealth created? Is economic liberty compatible with strong communities and great nations? While the advanced, modern democracies are the most prosperous societies mankind has ever known, they also face great and persistent economic problems—and sometimes crises—that invite us to reconsider our values and our policies. This course will explore both the fundamental questions of political economy and the practical questions of modern economic life.

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Israeli Grand Strategy

September 22, 2013 – September 25, 2013

Instructors: Uzi Arad

israeli_grandThe Middle East is witnessing dramatic change—the rise of Islamism, the ever-shifting balance of autocracy and democracy, the production and procurement of weapons of mass destruction. All this is happening alongside major changes in the broader global landscape when it comes to energy, information technology, commerce, and values. How can Israel maintain her strategic edge in this volatile environment? Former Israeli National Security Advisor Uzi Arad will explore the past, present, and future of Israeli grand strategy, exploring the choices that Israeli statesmen will face in the years and decades ahead.

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American Grand Strategy

Instructors: Eric Edelman

September 9, 2013 – September 13, 2013

american_grandAmerica has a large and unique role in the world—politically, economically, culturally, and militarily. To some, America is the world’s sole superpower, the “indispensable nation,” the leading democracy of the current age; to others, it is the Great Satan, an irresponsible empire, or a nation in decline. Led by former U.S. Under-Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, this course explores America’s great strategic challenges and options in the current age, drawing heavily on both his study of history and first-hand experience in the policy arena. What forces, interests, and values will shape American grand strategy in the years ahead?

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The Biblical View of Human Nature: Genesis and Leon Kass

September 3, 2013 – September 25, 2013

Instructors: Meir Soloveichik, Alan Mittleman, and Eric Cohen

biblical_view_lgThe meaning and nature of mankind is the great question for philosophers, scientists, and theologians. The Hebrew Bible, beginning with Genesis, offers a deep and complex account of who we are—from birth to death, in the family and in the community, as men and as women, called to live justly and yet so often acting in ways that distort, degrade, or even destroy the good and the holy. This course will explore the biblical view of the human condition, guided by Leon Kass’s magisterial commentary on Genesis, The Beginning of Wisdom.

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The Ethics of Modern War

August 19, 2013 – September 4, 2013

Instructors: Victor Davis Hanson, Frederick W. Kagan, and Peter Feaver

Portrait_of_Niccolò_Machiavelli_by_Santi_di_TitoWar is an inescapable part of the human condition, with the course of history and the character of civilizations often shaped by the legacy of past conflicts and the possibility of future ones. This course will focus on the moral dilemmas of warfare—looking back at some of the classic thinkers and decisive moments in military history, and forward at some of the novel dilemmas posed by new weapons of war and new geopolitical clashes. Michael Walzer’s classic work Just and Unjust Wars will be our guide, probing and challenging his arguments in search of a true modern ethic of war.

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Who Should Apply?

The Tikvah Advanced Institutes are aimed at men and women who wish to influence the intellectual, religious, and political life of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Applicants may include those pursuing study or careers in:

  • US or Israeli public policy, including national security and economics
  • The rabbinate
  • Academia
  • Journalism
  • Jewish Education
  • Jewish communal leadership
  • Law and Business


Past Participant Bios