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Great Debates in Politics and Policy

Applications for this program are closed.


estern society is undergoing many changes today as it grapples with challenges posed by multiculturalism, globalization, post-modernism, and individualism. These factors have led to divisive policy debates over questions of marriage, immigration, welfare, nationalism, and the definition of life. They further raise larger questions about the role of religion and moral discourse in public life. How can we preserve a meaningful liberal education and continue to assert ethical truths within this climate? May religious believers bring their faith and traditional values to the public sphere? May faith communities preserve their identity while interacting with general culture?

These dilemmas pose major challenges to committed Jews engaged in the modern world as we try to stay true to our faith and values while taking active roles in broader society. To appreciate how Judaism may respond to this encounter, young Jews must undertake careful study of the moral and social conditions of the West. As knowledgeable and engaged citizens, Jewish men and women can take part in the great debates of our times and impact the future of Western culture.

The Tikvah Overseas Students Institute is committed to helping shana ba-aretz (gap-year) students think about these questions to supplement their year of growth in Israel. Following the success of pilot programs in past years, this new program includes monthly meetings to read major contemporary books on questions relating to family life, nationalism, immigration, the use of power, and other timely topics. The selected readings include concise, popular, and provocative works by leading thinkers that will bring you directly into the heart of contemporary debate.

The program, which runs separate tracks for men and women on different nights of the week, allows you to make a great group of friends from different yeshivot or midrashot who are looking to explore these questions together. The program is an ideal supplement to your learning as we explore how the Jewish values absorbed in the beit midrash may be implemented in the real world.

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Program Dates
November 2020–May 2021
Men: 14 Sat. night sessions
Women: 14 Mon. night sessions
Co-ed: 14 Fri. morning sessions

Application Deadline
September 13, 2020

The program is free of charge.

Gap-year students in Israel.


Curriculum Topics

Jews & Power
American Power
Religious Liberty
Liberal Education
Future of Democracy



Avital Gold

Student and Operations Coordinator