The Jewish Meaning of America
with Meir Y. Soloveichik
New York, NY | August 7 – 11, 2017 | $500 Stipend & Housing
For current undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals.
How did the relationship between the United States and the Jewish people begin? How should Jews understand the religious significance of a republic dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and how have Jewish ideas and Jewish leaders influenced America over time? Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik of the Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and rabbi of America’s oldest congregation, Shearith Israel, will deliver a weeklong series of courses that probe the Jewish meaning of America.
Combining history with theology and politics through the prism of the incredible drama of the American founding, we will explore Jewish contributions to the early republic by tracing the life of one Jewish family. When Jonas Phillips landed on the Carolina coast, a Jewish immigrant from the Old World looking for opportunity, he arrived as an indentured servant to another Jewish merchant. After earning his freedom, he went north, married in New York, settled in Philadelphia, created a large family, became a wealthy man, and through his life worked shoulder to shoulder with the most important men of the age—Washington, Franklin, Jefferson—at the very birth of the republic.
Jonas Phillips was a religious Jew, an American patriot, and his life is a testament to the Jewish significance of the uniquely American tradition of religious freedom. His story and the stories of his children orient us to an understanding of American politics, culture, and law that combines modern and biblical ideals—contract with covenant, faith with freedom, and equality with pluralism. The Phillips family helps us to see just what in America is unique in Jewish and world history—what is worth protecting, worth celebrating, worth bequeathing to our children. Jonas Phillips and his heirs tell the story of the United States as a home for the Jewish people, and Jewish ideas’ contribution to American political thought. Throughout the institute, Rabbi Soloveichik will invite us to ask if America is prepared to keep these fundamental qualities of itself alive by being loyal to the ideas that Phillips embodies and that are at the heart of the early republic.
Who should apply?
- Current undergraduate students, graduate students, and young professionals interested in moral, social, political, or strategic thought.
- Jews of all backgrounds and denominations, ideas and persuasions, who are committed to serious inquiry, moral discourse, and the future of Judaism.
- Alumni of previous college-level Tikvah programs are not eligible to apply, but will be invited to attend select sessions at a later date.
All applications are due February 15, 2017.