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The Jewish Idea: Morality, Politics, and Theology

Tikvah Summer Fellowship for College Students       June 18, 2015—July 31, 2015


Eric Cohen

The Tikvah Fund

Eric Cohen has been the Executive Director of the Tikvah Fund since 2007.  He was the founder and remains editor-at-large of the New Atlantis, and he serves as the publisher of the Jewish Review of Books and Mosaic. Mr. Cohen has published in numerous academic and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Weekly Standard, Commentary, The New Republic, First Things, and numerous others. He is the author of In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology (2008) and co-editor of The Future is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics (2002). He was previously managing editor of the Public Interest and served as a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics. Mr. Cohen currently serves on the board of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Witherspoon Institute, and National Affairs and on the Editorial Advisory Board of First Things.

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb

The Tikvah Fund

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb is Senior Director of the Tikvah Fund and founding Dean of the Tikvah Institute for High School Students at Yale University. Prior to joining Tikvah, Rabbi Gottlieb served as Head of School at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and Principal of the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA, and has taught at The Frisch School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Hebrew Theological College, Loyola University in Chicago, and the University of Chicago. He received his BA from Yeshiva College, rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, where his doctoral studies focused on the moral and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre. Rabbi Gottlieb is a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee and serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought. He lives in Teaneck, NJ, with his wife and five children.

Jonathan Silver

The Tikvah Fund

Jonathan Silver is Senior Director at the Tikvah Fund, where he hosts the Tikvah Podcast on Great Jewish Essays and Ideas, Tikvah’s library of Online Courses, and oversees a range of educational programs and publishing ventures. He was educated at Tufts University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Georgetown University.
Seminar Instructors

Meir Soloveichik

Congregation Shearith Israel

Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik is director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Prior to this, Soloveichik served as associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan. Rabbi Soloveichik has lectured throughout the United States, in Europe, and in Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. His essays on these subjects have appeared in the Wall Street JournalCommentaryFirst Things, AzureTradition, and the Torah U-Madda Journal. In August 2012, he gave the invocation at the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He is the son of Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, grandson of the late Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, and the great nephew of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

Chaim Navon

Midreshet Lindenbaum and Yeshivat Har Etzion

Chaim Navon is the rav of Kehilat Shimshoni (Modi’in). He teaches Gemara and Jewish thought in Midreshet Lindenbaum and the Herzog College (Yeshivat Har Etzion). He writes a weekly column for Mekor Rishon and has written six books on Jewish topics and two novels. His books include Caught in the Thicket: An Introduction to the Thought of Rav Soloveitchik, Genesis and Jewish Thought (English); A Bridge for Jacob’s Daughters: The Status of Women in Jewish Law; Between Past and Future; and Eve Did Not Eat an Apple: 101 Common Mistakes in Judaism. Rav Navon studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion from 1992 to 2004 and received his rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein. He received a Master’s degree in Jewish thought from the Hebrew University.

Elliott Abrams

Council on Foreign Relations

Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser in the administration of George W. Bush.  He also served as an Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration. A member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Mr. Abrams teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is the author of Undue Process: A Story of How Political Differences are Turned into CrimesSecurity and Sacrifice: Isolation, Intervention, and American Foreign Policy, and Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America, and writes widely on U.S. foreign policy with special focus on the Middle East and the issues of democracy and human rights. His most recent book is Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Ran Baratz


Ran Baratz is the founding editor of the Hebrew-language conservative news site Mida . Baratz teaches philosophy, history, and Zionist thought at numerous Israeli institutions, including at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Cornerstones program. He is also a senior faculty member and advisor at Ein Prat Academy outside of Jerusalem. Specializing in Greek Philosophy, Dr. Baratz earned his doctorate, summa cum laude, from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published many op-eds, essays, and studies in Israel’s leading newspapers and periodicals.

Yehoshua Pfeffer

The Tikvah Fund

Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer is head of the Haredi Israel division at the Tikvah Fund, running a variety of programs and projects that cater to members of the Haredi and Religious-Zionist communities. Pfeffer was born and educated in London before continuing his Torah education in Israel. He served as a Dayan (Rabbinical Judge) on a Jerusalem monetary court, as chief rabbi and moderator of an international Jewish-law website, and as chief editor of the Ner LeElef Resources program. He has written numerous books and articles on different subjects of Jewish law and thought; lectures extensively for various forums in Israel and abroad; and has taught at several Yeshivot in Israel, currently at Hedvat HaTorah. He has also served as chief halachic assistant to the former Chief Rabbi of Israel and as a researcher for the Israel Law Ministry. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree (summa cum laude) in law from Hebrew University, and clerked at the Supreme Court of Israel, also teaching at Hebrew University and the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Center. He attended the Tikvah Summer Fellowship program in 2012

Daniel Mark

Villanova University

Daniel Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, where he teaches political theory, philosophy of law, American government, and politics and religion. He also chairs the nine-member, bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, to which he was appointed by Speaker John Boehner. Dr. Mark is also an assistant editor of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy. He holds a BA, MA, and PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. There, he was affiliated with the Witherspoon Institute, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, the Program in Law and Public Affairs, and the Penn-Princeton Bioethics Forum. Before graduate school, he spent four years as a high school teacher. He also attended Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) in Israel.

Leora Batnitzky

Princeton University

Leora Batnitzky is Perelman Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Princeton University as well as the Director of Princeton's Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought. She is the author of Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered (Princeton, 2000), Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation (Cambridge, 2006), and How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought (Princeton). Her current project focuses on the conceptual and historical relations between modern religious thought (Jewish and Christian) and modern legal theory (analytic and Continental). She received a B.A. in philosophy from Barnard College, Columbia University and a B.A. in biblical studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Her M.A. and Ph.D. are in religion from Princeton University.

William Kristol

Weekly Standard

William Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard, which, together with Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz, he founded in 1995. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and the co-author, with Lawrence Kaplan, of the best-selling book The War Over Iraq (2003) and the co-editor of The Neoconservative Imagination (with Christopher DeMuth, 1995), Present Dangers (with Robert Kagan, 2000), and The Future is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics (with Eric Cohen, 2002). He has published numerous articles and essays on constitutional law, political philosophy, and public policy, and is a regular contributor on ABC News. Mr. Kristol has served as chief of staff to the Vice President of the United States and to the Secretary of Education. Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol taught politics at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

David Stav

Tzohar Rabbinical Organization

Rabbi David Stav is the co-founder and the chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, a rabbinical organization which aims to provide religious services to and create dialogue with the broader Israeli population.  He also serves as the rabbi of the city of Shoham.  Previously he served as the rabbi of the religious film school, Maale, and was one of the founding heads of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva. He is the author of Bein Ha-Zemanim, a book about culture and recreation in Jewish thought and law. One of Israel’s most visible rabbinic figures, he regularly appears on Israeli television and radio, and lectures to a wide range of audiences. 

Professor Ruth Wisse

Distinguished Senior Fellow, The Tikvah Fund

Recently retired from her position as Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard, Professor Wisse is currently Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her books on literary subjects include an edition of Jacob Glatstein’s two-volume fictional memoir, The Glatstein Chronicles (2010), The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Literature and Culture (2003), and A Little Love in Big Manhattan (1988). She is also the author of two political studies, If I Am Not for Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews (1992) and Jews and Power (2007). Her latest book, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor, a volume in the Tikvah-sponsored Library of Jewish Ideas, was recently published by Princeton University Press.
Visiting Speakers

Norman Podhoretz


Norman Podhoretz was born in 1930 in Brownsville, Brooklyn to immigrant Jewish parents and attended Boys High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He received a full scholarship to Columbia College, where he became a protégé of Lionel Trilling and received his B.A. in English literature in 1950. Concurrently, he earned a B.A. in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He was awarded a Kellett Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship and received a B.A. in literature (1st) and an M.A. from Clare College, Cambridge.  From 1953-1955, he served in the U.S. Army.  In 1960 Mr. Podhoretz became editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine; he remained in that position until his retirement in 1995. In 2004 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.  Mr. Podhoretz’s books include Why Are Jews Liberals? (2009),  The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are (2002), Ex-Friends (1999), The Bloody Crossroads: Where Literature and Politics Meet (1986), Breaking Ranks: A Political Memoir (1979), and Making It (1967).

Dr. Dara Horn


Dara Horn received her PhD in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2006, studying Hebrew and Yiddish. In 2007 she was chosen by Granta magazine as one of America’s “Best Young American Novelists.” Her first novel, In the Image, published by W.W. Norton when she was 25, received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, the 2002 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come (2006), received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and has been translated into eleven languages. Her third novel, All Other Nights (2009), was one of Booklist’s 25 Best Books of the Decade. Her nonfiction e-book The Rescuer (2012) was published by Tablet and became a Kindle bestseller. Her fourth novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, was published by W.W. Norton in September 2013, and was selected as one of Booklist's Best Books of 2013. She has taught courses in Jewish literature and Israeli history at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, and City University of New York, and has lectured at over two hundred universities and cultural institutions throughout North America and in Israel. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.

Bret Stephens

New York Times

Bret Stephens is an op-ed columnist at the New York Times, where he writes about foreign policy and domestic politics. Previously, he wrote “Global View,” the Wall Street Journal’s foreign-affairs column, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2013. He was also the paper’s deputy editorial page editor and a member of its editorial board. Before that, he was editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, a position he assumed at age 28. At the Post he oversaw the paper's news, editorial and digital operations and its international editions, and also wrote a weekly column. Mr. Stephens was born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico City. He has an undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s from the London School of Economics. He lives in New York City with his wife Corinna, a music critic, and their three children.

Yuval Levin

National Affairs

Yuval Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the editor of National Affairs magazine. His essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and others. He is a contributing editor of National Review and The Weekly Standard, a senior editor of EPPC’s journal The New Atlantis and, most recently, author of The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. He is a recipient of a 2013 Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. Before joining EPPC, Mr. Levin served on the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. He has also been Executive Director of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a congressional staffer. He holds a B.A. from American University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Roger Hertog

Hertog Foundation and The Tikvah Fund

Roger Hertog is president of the Hertog Foundation and chairman of the Tikvah Fund. One of the founding partners of the investment research and management firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., which he joined in 1968, Mr. Hertog served as the firm’s president before its merger with Alliance Capital Management in 2000. In 2006 he retired from the successor company, AllianceBernstein, and is currently vice-chairman emeritus. An alumnus of the City College of New York, Mr. Hertog was previously chairman of The New-York Historical Society and The Manhattan Institute; he has also served on the boards of the American Enterprise Institute, the New York Philharmonic, the New York Public Library, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy. In 2007 Mr. Hertog was awarded the Medal of the National Endowment for the Humanities in recognition of his philanthropic efforts. In 2010 he received the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.

Jay Lefkowitz

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Jay Lefkowitz is senior litigation partner in the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis and a member of the firm’s global management executive committee. He is also an adjunct professor of administrative law at Columbia Law School. Mr. Lefkowitz has had a distinguished career in public service, including the period from 2005 through 2009, when he was the United States Special Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea. He also served as Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush for Domestic Policy and as General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget. Earlier in his career Mr. Lefkowitz served as Director of Cabinet Affairs and Deputy Executive Secretary of the Domestic Policy Council for President George H.W. Bush. His essays on law, politics, and religion have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Public Interest, Jerusalem Post, Commentary, and elsewhere. Mr. Lefkowitz is a graduate of Columbia University and Columbia Law School.

Jacob J. Schacter

Yeshiva University

Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter is University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University. He is the co-author of A Modern Heretic and a Traditional Community: Mordecai M. Kaplan, Orthodoxy, and American Judaism (with Jeffrey Gurock, 1996) and the editor of Jewish Tradition and the Nontraditional Jew (1992) and Judaism’s Encounter with other Cultures: Rejection or Integration? (1997). He has published numerous articles and reviews in Hebrew and English, and is the founding editor of the Torah u-Madda Journal. His new Hebrew edition of the autobiography of Rabbi Jacob Emden is forthcoming from Mosad Bialik in Jerusalem.  From 2000-2005 he served as Dean of the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Institute in Boston. From 1981-2000, he served as the rabbi of the Jewish Center in New York City, where he grew the congregation from 180 families to over 600.