Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between the Jewish Political Condition (JPC) program and the Jews, Morality, and the West (JMW) program?
The programs are distinguishable by a number of different factors.
Topic: JPC is very much focused on questions relating to nationalism and religion in the public sphere, with a particularly eye to questions about Zionism and public policy debates in Israel. JMW is focused more on the moral questions that underlie public policy debates around the world, such as those relating to immigration, religious liberty, the future of Europe, and liberal democracies. While there will be some overlap in the material covered, the themes remain fairly distinct.
Format: JPC is a co-ed program which features lectures and debates alongside a few smaller 90-minute reading seminars and two extended shabbatons. JMW is a smaller, separate-sex program (with parallel male and female groups) and operates exclusively in seminar discussions. The books assigned for the JMW program will be somewhat longer and obviously play a very central role at each seminar, whereas the reading assignments for JPC program will be shorter and usually provide background information to the lecture.
Frequency: JPC meets on 14 dates, including two shabbatons. That’s roughly once every two weeks over the course of the academic year (excluding Hanukkah and Pesach breaks). JMW will be meeting 7-8 times over the course of the year, which is roughly every three to four weeks beginning from its first session.
Timing: JPC meets on Friday mornings from 9 AM–1:00 PM. JMW meets on Monday evenings (for women) and Saturday nights (for men).
Can I participate in both programs?
No, fellows may only participate in one track in a given year. Students staying for a second year in Israel are welcome to apply to the alternative track in the following year.
Can I apply to both programs?
Yes! Students may elect to apply exclusively to one of the programs, but they can also select on their application to express interest in both programs while listing their preferred track for admissions consideration.
Corona-Era Restrictions: What if I’m sick or not feeling well on the day of the seminar?
We expect students to make the maximum effort to attend all TOS seminars. In light of Corona restrictions, students who are not feeling well should be in touch with the student coordinator, who will set up a Zoom call so that the fellow may participate remotely. The attendance system is entirely based on an honor code.
Who sponsors the Tikvah Overseas Students (TOS) Institute?
The program is sponsored by the Tikvah Fund. The Tikvah Fund is a philanthropic foundation and ideas institution committed to supporting the 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. Our animating mission and guiding spirit is to advance Jewish excellence and Jewish flourishing in the modern age. Tikvah is politically Zionist, economically free-market oriented, culturally traditional, and theologically open-minded. Yet in all issues and subjects, we welcome vigorous debate and big arguments. 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.
Please explore the Tikvah Fund website to learn more about our different programs.
How much does this program cost?
The program is free of charge to the students.
What are the requirements for participants?
Students must commit to constant attendance, completing the assigned readings before each seminar, and actively participating in group discussions. The reading assignments will be reasonable and take into account the busy schedule of shana ba-aretz programs. Attendance at each event is mandatory unless one receives an excused absence. Students who are unable to meet these requirements may be asked to leave the program.
Do I need to be an alumna or alumnus of a Tikvah Fund high school program to participate?
No. The program is open to all post high-school students studying abroad in Israel who are in Israel for the duration of the academic year.
How do I set up my interview?
Once you have completed the entire application and clicked “submit,” you will be contacted via email to set up an interview. If you need to separately send your high school transcript or letter of recommendation, please have it mailed to TOS@tikvahfund.org as soon as possible.
We encourage students to apply before the application deadline so that we can set up a preferred interview slot that will best fit their schedule. Early applicants may receive an interview at their yeshiva or midrasha in the week before the application deadline. Please apply early to be eligible for this convenient option.
What should I expect in my interview?
The interviews will take place in-person or through teleconferencing, depending on the health guidelines and your location. During the interview, applicants will have a chance to speak about their hobbies, interests, and aspirations. They will also be asked about their opinions on various current events, political debates, or intellectual queries, including those relating to the themes of this program. There are no right or wrong answers—we promise! Students are simply expected to articulate their thoughts on a range of matters.
Which yeshivot, seminaries, and gap-year programs have participants in TOS?
Since the program began in 2010, TOS has included participants from over twenty different yeshivot, midrashot, and other shana ba-aretz or gap-year programs.
Is the TOS schedule coordinated with the participating institutions?
To minimize conflicts with your program’s schedule, we plan our events on Monday nights or Saturday nights, when many students have off. Occasionally, your institution might have a trip or an event during that time. If that event is optional, we expect you to attend the TOS event. If that event is mandatory, we will help coordinate with your school to work out a way to attend both the TOS seminar as well as your school’s program. In some cases, this might include finding alternative transportation options or TOS providing transportation to your school’s event. If the conflict is unavoidable, the student will receive an excused absence from the TOS seminar.
Are there some programs that have schedules incompatible with TOS participation?
We have found that there are a few gap-year programs with schedules that do not allow for participation in TOS. These are programs that usually include extensive travel, irregular schedules or alternating locations, or extensive time in northern Israel. We encourage all post-high school students in Israel to apply to the program. If you are nervous about this issue, we are happy to discuss it with you.
If you have further questions, write us at TOS@tikvahfund.org.