FAQ

Who is a Maimonides Scholar?

A Maimonides Scholar is an intellectually curious high school student who wants to confront timeless questions about what it means to be Jewish and what it means to be a human being through the serious study of the great books of the Jewish and Western canons.  

A Maimonides Scholar is someone who wants to take their Jewish learning and their engagement with the modern State of Israel to the next level, going deeper and grappling with more sophisticated questions than they have encountered in either their religious or secular educations before. He or she seeks to explore those questions in a community of equally engaged peers from diverse backgrounds from all around the world. Most Maimonides Scholars are not engaged in full-time Jewish studies and do not currently attend a Jewish day school.  

A Maimonides Scholar may have spent lots of time with Jewish texts or they may be exploring the Torah, Talmud, and works of modern Jewish thought for the very first time. He or she may be deeply religious, atheistic, or agnostic.  But no matter what their relationship is to Jewish texts and Jewish life, a Maimonides Scholar is committed to engaging in rigorous philosophic inquiry, with an eye towards cultivating a life of meaning, integrity, and Jewish leadership. 

Who is eligible to apply to the Maimonides Scholars Program?

The program is open to current high school juniors and seniors who want to engage deeply with the Jewish and Western philosophical traditions.

Students who attend Yeshiva high schools, community day schools, or other full-time Jewish educational programs are encouraged to apply to our sister program, the Tikvah Scholars Program. If you’re not sure which one to apply to, don’t worry; the programs have the same application and our staff will assist you to ensure you are placed in the right program.

When does the Institute take place?

We are pleased to offer you two sessions, one in late June and one in late July. Please sign up for our email list so that we can alert you when the final 2020 session dates become available!

When are applications open for the summer program? What is the deadline for submitting an application?

Applications open October 17, 2019. There are two application deadlines. December 18, 2019 is the regular deadline for applications. Applicants who choose to apply after December 18 will have an extended application period to submit their application, which ends on January 27, 2020. After the extended application period has ended, no applications will be accepted.

Although there is no admissions advantage to applying before the extended application period deadline, there is a significant difference in tuition costs.

What is the application like?

We are thrilled that so many exceptional high school students want to join Maimonides at Yale this summer. While we wish we could include all those interested, we are forced to invite only a selection of applicants to be a Maimonides Scholar.

The application process is straightforward (and free of charge). As part of the application, you will be asked to:

  • Provide your name, contact information, school, and year of graduation.
  • Write two short essays. The first essay is no longer than 600 words and is about a text that is important to you. The second essay is no longer than 250 words and is about an important personality of the 20th century.
  • Include a brief description of how you hope to grow as a Maimonides Scholar, a short bio, and a parent/guardian’s contact information.

We’ll also ask for a headshot, a copy of your transcript, and one letter of recommendation.

What is the application review process?

The admissions committee makes admissions decisions. The committee consists of faculty, staff, and senior consultants of the Maimonides Scholars Program. Your application will be read by at least two members of the committee. Select applicants will be invited for a short video interview with at least one member of the committee. Ultimately, candidates will be invited to become a Maimonides Scholar this summer based on the quality, depth and sophistication of their writing; their demonstration of virtuous character and potential for leadership, broadly defined; and their ability to clearly communicate their opinions, interests, and aspirations.

How much is tuition?

Tuition is $895 for accepted applicants who submit their applications before December 18, 2019. For accepted applicants who submit their application during the extended application period, tuition will be $1,295.

Tuition helps cover the cost of seminars, books, and food. All other onsite program expenses, including housing, are fully subsidized by the Maimonides Fund.

Full and partial need-based tuition scholarships are available. No student will be turned away because of need. and The application is free and the admissions process is need-blind.

What does a day at the Maimonides Scholars Program look like?

Although the central features of every day are the seminars, a variety of extracurricular activities are also scheduled throughout the program. Check out last year’s daily schedule for a taste of what this year will be like!

How can I learn more about the program?

You can learn more by visiting our Overview Page or by reviewing our course offerings from 2018 and downloading our brochure here.

What kind of students become Maimonides Scholars?

We seek intellectually curious students who want to want to have serious conversations about big ideas. They should be willing to grapple with big questions, and be ready for vigorous but respectful debate. The applications are competitive, but we care more about how excited you are about the program than we do about your current grades or past achievements.

Maimonides Scholars, and students at the Tikvah Fund more generally, are not merely with us for the duration of the program. Maimonides Scholars Program will have access to mentoring opportunities, alumni networking, follow-up career opportunities, and educational programming through our Tikvah Alumni Network.

What will Jewish life be like on the program?

The Maimonides Scholars Program is a diverse community that respects our students different practices and traditions. We seek to create a space where all students can grow Jewishly and encounter new traditions.

Students will be housed in a Yale dormitory building a short walk from the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale. All the food served at the program is kosher. There will be space throughout the program for students to participate in the rhythms of Jewish life including voluntary prayer times and Shabbat.

On Shabbat evening, students will attend a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service as well as enjoy a Shabbat meal together . On Saturday morning, students can choose between egalitarian or orthodox Shabbat services, or attend a non-religious text study. We request that Shabbat observance be respected in public spaces between Friday evening and Saturday evening.

Do you need to have a Jewish studies background to participate in the program?

Absolutely not! The Maimonides Scholars Program is designed so that students from diverse Jewish backgrounds can come together as equal partners in inquiry. The program is designed for both students who are immersed in Jewish life already or whether you are coming to Jewish text study for the first time. Whatever background knowledge you come with, you will grow and flourish at the Maimonides Scholars Program.

Is there transportation to the program?

The Maimonides Scholars Program will provide a complimentary bus to and from the Yale University campus in New Haven, CT. The bus will leave and return to a central location in New York City.

The student’s family or guardian is responsible for getting the student to the bus in New York or to New Haven directly.

What is the food like at the program?

All food that we provide will be kosher. We will work with students and with our excellent caterers to make sure any special dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, allergies) are accommodated.

What is the dress code for the program?

We expect our participants to come to the seminar table prepared to engage in high-level, serious discussion, and to conduct themselves maturely and professionally.

To that end, our dress code is “professional”: slacks and khakis with a collared shirt appropriate for young men and slacks, khakis, skirts, blouses and dresses for young women. Torn or ripped clothing is not allowed. On Shabbat, clothing should be dressier than normal seminar attire, reflecting the elevated nature of the day. Regular summer clothing is acceptable outside of class and special events

What is the Tikvah Fund?

The Tikvah Fund is a philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to cultivating the next generation of intellectual, religious, and political leaders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Tikvah runs and invests in a wide range of initiatives in Israel, the United States, and around the world, including educational programs, publications, and fellowships. We invite you to explore some of these initiatives through the links on our website.

Our animating mission and guiding spirit is to advance Jewish excellence and Jewish flourishing in the modern age. Our institutes, programs, and publications all reflect this spirit of bringing forward the serious alternatives for what the Jewish future should look like and bringing Jewish thinking and leaders into conversation with Western political, moral, and economic thought.

We run educational programs for high school students, students spending a gap-year in Israel, and college students. We also offer extensive programming and content for the alumni of our various programs. In this way, we encourage our students to think about their time at Yale not as a one-time encounter but as the gateway to an entire continuum of educational experiences designed to equip them with the intellectual and moral tools to take up their roles as young leaders in the Jewish and world community.

More Questions

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Kate Havard, khavard@tikvahfund.org.

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