What is the Millstone Scholars Program?
The Millstone Scholars Program is a unique one-year opportunity for 7th and 8th grade students to study the great ideas and leaders of Jewish and Western civilization, Zionism, and the heroic story of modern Israel. Students will meet in their local community cohorts of Millstone Scholars for weekly in-person high level seminars with exceptional peers and master teachers. Designed for students in public or private (non-Jewish) schools, Millstone Scholars engage in a one-year sequence of an in-person core seminar and online electives, combined with special events and guest speakers who share their experiences as Jewish, Israeli, and American leaders. Millstone Scholars is a national honors program, with regional clusters around the country. In an era of declining Jewish identity and rising anti-Semitism, the Millstone Scholars Program aims to create confident and knowledgeable Jewish leaders of the future.
Who is Eligible to Apply?
We will accept applications from students entering 7th and 8th grades in Fall 2023 and who currently attend public or private (non-Jewish) schools. We currently have 10 active cohorts around the country, and we will be opening more for the upcoming school year. A selective program, we will choose no more than 15 students in each regional cohort. Application due dates vary by location, and we intend to have all written applications by no later than Friday, August 4th, 2023.
What is the Program Structure and Curriculum?
The Millstone Scholars Program is a one-year trimester sequence between September and June, aligned with the public school calendar. Millstone features educational programming that advances Tikvah’s mission of teaching students about (i) Jewish thought and philosophy, (ii) Zionism and Modern Israel, (iii) the spirit of American Democracy, and (iv) the Great Books of Western Civilization. Our programming includes:
- Core In-Person Seminar: “How Jewish Ideas Changed the World”
Every student will participate in a core seminar—meeting weekly, in-person, in your community—that explores how Jewish ideas have shaped Western civilization. The three parts of this core curriculum will be 1) the Bible in conversation with Western civilization, 2) Zionism, and 3) the American Jewish experience. Students will explore foundational Jewish texts alongside those from Greek, Roman, and Enlightenment philosophy; painters like Rembrandt; statesmen like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln; and Zionist leaders like Herzl, Ben Gurion, and Menachem Begin.
- The Four Pillars – Online Electives
Every student will choose online elective courses during one of our interim sessions through our Tikvah Online Academy. These courses allow students to explore topics of greatest interest to them and to meet Millstone Scholar peers from around the world. Past course offerings include “Judaism’s 10 Life-Changing Ideas,” “America and the Purim Story,” and “King David: Israel’s Greatest Warrior and Poet.”
- The Herzl Colloquia—A Leadership Forum
Twice each trimester, Millstone Scholars will participate in conversations with renowned leaders from Jewish and American life—drawn from some of the most significant institutions in the worlds of scholarship and academia, law and public policy, business, and entrepreneurship.
Students who begin the program in 7th grade will have the opportunity for additional unique programming in 8th grade. There will also be parent learning opportunities through ongoing seminars for parents to engage with the material their children are learning and to explore together issues of deepest concern as Jewish parents today.
Through this intensive Millstone Scholars program, our mission is to train and network a group of learned and confident young American Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Read more about the Millstone Scholars Program curriculum below, or contact Rabbi Dr. Abraham Unger at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The Millstone Core Seminar Curriculum
How Jewish Ideas Changed the World
The Millstone Scholars curriculum is rooted in the following beliefs: that Jewish ideas shaped Western civilization and the world; that young American Jews have the right and responsibility to understand their own exceptional Hebraic heritage; and that young men and women in 7th and 8th grade are capable of college-style seminars and discussions. We are looking for intellectually curious students and families who believe in Jewish excellence.
Every Millstone Scholars student will participate in our core seminar—a weekly discussion class, in-person, in your local community. Together with a master teacher, students will read carefully chosen selections from the formative texts of the Jewish people—ranging from the Torah to the Talmud and medieval period to modern thinkers and leaders —in an intellectual adventure that explores how Jewish ideas changed the world. We will discuss the Biblical Creation story and the Apollo 8 astronauts; the story of Abraham and the ideas of Aristotle; the leadership of Rebekah and the longings of Homer’s Penelope; the Exodus from Egypt and the American Founding; the teachings of the Ten Commandments and the paintings of Rembrandt; the foundational stories of the Jewish people and the writings of Edgar Allen Poe; the rise of the ancient Israelites and the heroic leaders who created modern Israel.
The Four Pillars
Jewish Philosophy | Zionism & Israel | Democracy in America | Western Civilization
Tikvah’s “four pillars” are: (i) Jewish thought and history, (ii) Zionism and modern Israel, (iii) the spirit of American democracy, and (iv) the great ideas of Western Civilization. Millstone scholars will gain a broader understanding of each pillar and will gain a better sense of how Jewish thought underpins the Western tradition.
Why are these four pillars so important? Because we believe that:
The CLASSIC TEXTS OF JEWISH CIVILIZATION—including the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic thought, and Jewish philosophy—offer enduring wisdom about the meaning of being human.
The ZIONIST PROJECT is one of the great moral, cultural, and political triumphs in human history, and every young Jew should understand the achievements and challenges of modern Israel.
AMERICA IS AN EXCEPTIONAL NATION, influenced by Hebraic ideas from the colonial era onward and affording Jews unprecedented liberty and equality.
The FOUNDATIONAL IDEAS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION—from Greek philosophy to Renaissance art to political economy—are essential ingredients in shaping modern Jewish citizens.
Windows into the Curriculum:
What is a Millstone Class Really Like?
Millstone Scholars courses focus on reading primary texts carefully as a way to explore the great ideas, leaders, and stories that help us understand who we are—as Jews, as Zionists, as citizens, and as part of Western civilization. Click the images below to view sample units.
Rabbi Abraham Unger, Ph.D.
Director of Regional Education