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The Tikvah Overseas Student Institute

For Yeshiva, Midrasha, and Post-High School Students in Israel |  חשון – סיון תשע"ט / Oct. 2018 – May 2019


Shlomo Brody

The Tikvah Fund

Rabbi Shlomo (Myles) Brody, founding director of the institute, is a presidential doctoral fellow at Bar Ilan University Law School and a junior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. He previously served for a decade as a senior instructor at Yeshivat Hakotel and has penned the Ask the Rabbi column for The Jerusalem Post since 2007. His essays have also appeared in Mosaic, Jewish Action, The Forward, The Jewish PressFirst ThingsMeorotHakirah, Jewish Ideas DailyTablet, and other publications. His first book, A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates (Maggid), received a 2014 National Jewish Book Award. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, he received rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and an MA in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University, where he received the Hassenfeld award for excellence in graduate studies.  Originally from Houston, Texas, Rabbi Brody now lives in Modi'in with his wife Rocky and five children. He can be reached at brody@tikvahfund.org.
Student and Operations Coordinator

Avital Gold

The Tikvah Fund

Avital Gold serves as the Student and Operations Coordinator of the program. Avital is a student at Shalem College in Jerusalem, where she majors in philosophy and Jewish thought. She previously studied in Midreshet Nishmat. Avital did her national service (sherut leumi) running programs at “Livnot U’Lehibanot” in Safed and working with the special needs kids of “Shalva.” She was previously a member of Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund delegations to run “Zionist seminars” in Australia and South Africa and is continuing her work in informal Jewish education by leading Birthright and Keshet groups in Israel.

Rachel Zabarkes Friedman

Tel Aviv University

Rachel Zabarkes Friedman is a postdoctoral fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University.  A political theorist and lawyer by training, she studies the history of political philosophy and the normative foundations of the welfare state, in particular the idea of social insurance.  She received her Ph.D., her J.D., and her B.A., summa cum laude, all from Harvard University, and was subsequently awarded a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship in Israel.  She has taught in courses on distributive justice and the history of political thought at Harvard, and also serves as an associate editor of Mosaic.

Ruth Gavison

Metzilah Center

Ruth Gavison is Haim H. Cohn Professor of Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, she served as its President in 1996-1999. She is also the founding President of the Metzilah Center, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, and a member of the presidium of Moetzet Yahad, a national body on consensus-building between religious and secular Jews in Israel. Her areas of research include the relationship between law and politics, processes of constitution-making, the private-public distinction, Israeli society, and the role of laws and courts in divided democracies. A frequent contributor to the Israeli media, she is a regular participant in public debates.

Sharon Goldman

Shalem College

Sharon Goldman is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Shalem College and director of their America Israel Studies Program. A frequent speaker and writer on Zionism, the American-Jewish diaspora, and the U.S.-Israel relationship, Dr. Goldman also works on leadership development and training. Before making aliyah in the summer of 2018, she worked in AIPAC’s Northeast region first as Political Director and later as Deputy Regional Director.  Dr. Goldman received her doctorate in political science from Yale University. She was previously an assistant professor of political science at Ramapo College of New Jersey and was an executive board member of the New Jersey Political Science Association and the Northern New Jersey Hillel.

Micah Goodman

Ein Prat Academy

Micah Goodman is a leading voice on Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and contemporary world Jewry. Dr. Goodman is the author of two Israeli bestsellers on canonical Jewish texts: The Dream of the Kuzari published in 2012 and The Secrets of the Guide for the Perplexed published in 2011, both by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir. A distinguished speaker and teacher, Micah lectures regularly at Israel’s leading universities, think tanks and cultural venues, to audiences that include Israel’s political and national leaders, and around North America.  Micah's analyses of the Torah portion are featured in a weekly show broadcast by Israel's leading television network, Channel 2. Micah earned a PhD in Jewish Thought from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lectures at his alma mater. Dr. Goodman is the CEO and Rosh Midrasha of Ein Prat Academy and he also serves as a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and is the recipient of numerous awards for his publications.

Daniel Gordis

Shalem College

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of more than ten books, Gordis is a regular columnist for both the Jerusalem Post and for Bloomberg View. Gordis’ newest book is a history of the State of Israel entitled Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, which received the 2016 National Jewish Book Award as “Book of the Year.” Gordis’ writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the New Republic, the New York Times MagazineAzure, Commentary and Foreign Affairs, and his books have received numerous awards. He previously won the National Jewish Book Award, in 2008, for Saving Israel, and two of his other books were finalists for the National Jewish Book Award.  

Yossi Klein Halevi

Author and Journalist

Yossi Klein Halevi, a journalist and author, is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and the author, most recently, of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, a New York Times bestseller. He was previously a contributing editor of The New Republic and a research fellow at the Shalem Center. His first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story (Little, Brown), was published in 1995.  In 2001 he published At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land (Harper). His 2013 book, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation (Harper), received a 2013 National Jewish Book Award. Mr. Halevi is a frequent contributor to the op-ed pages of leading North American newspapers. He is active in reconciliation efforts between Muslims and Jews and serves as chairman of Open House, an Arab-Jewish coexistence center in the town of Ramle, near Tel Aviv.

Shira Kahn

Kohelet Policy Forum

Shira Kahn is a lawyer and researcher at the Kohelet Policy Forum. She previously interned at the Israeli State Attorney’s Office. Ms. Kahn received her law degree with honors from Bar Ilan University and is a graduate of the Jewish Statesmanship Center program for exceptional students. She previously guided groups of foreign visitors in the Livnot U-Lehibanot program and studied for two years in the Women’s Beit Midrash in Migdal Oz.

Eugene Kontorovich

George Mason University

Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, specializing in constitutional and international law. Before coming to George Mason, he had been a professor at Northwestern University School of Law for 11 years. Prof. Kontorovich is also the head of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem-based think tank, and is recognized as one of the world’s preeminent experts on international law and the Israel-Arab conflict.  He has testified repeatedly in Congress about Arab-Israeli conflict, and his popular writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, POLITICO, Haaretz, and numerous other leading publications. Kontrovich attended the University of Chicago for college and law school and clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Aylana Meisel

The Tikvah Fund

Aylana Meisel is the Deputy Director of Tikvah Israel and the head of its student educational division. She has worked for Tikvah in the United States and Israel for seven years, assisting in mission development, strategy, and implementation across the Fund’s educational activities. She has overseen the recruitment of thousands of talented students and young and senior professionals to Tikvah educational opportunities, and maintains relationships with alumni internationally. Her professional experience includes work in journalism, policy analysis, legislation, and law. She obtained her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in Jewish Studies from the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, City University of New York. Her work has been published in outlets including Mosaic, Commentary Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and the Washington Free Beacon.

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 Polisar

Shalem College

Daniel Polisar is co-founder and executive vice president of Shalem College. He previously served as president of the Shalem Center from 2002-2013 and also served as its Director of Research, Academic Director, and Editor-In-Chief of the center’s journal Azure. Before joining Shalem, he was founder and director of Peace Watch, a non-partisan organization monitoring Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Oslo Accords, and head of the Peace Watch observer team during the January 1996 Palestinian elections. Dr. Polisar received his B.A. in politics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, where he was the recipient of Truman and Fulbright scholarships, as well as of a Mellon Fellowship. His research interests include the history and philosophy of higher education, education in Israel, and Israeli constitutional development.

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. 

Jonathan Rynhold

Bar Ilan University

Professor Jonathan Rynhold is the director of the Argov Center for the study of Israel and the Jewish People in the Political Studies department at Bar-Ilan University, where he also serves as deputy head of the department and as a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. Professor Rynhold’s research focuses on U.S.-Israeli relations, Israeli foreign policy, and the role of political culture in international relations. His book The Arab-Israeli Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press) won the Israeli Association for Political Science prize for the best book of 2015. He also took a leading role in combatting the academic boycott of Israel in the UK, and has served as an advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and diaspora Jewish organizations on combatting the BDS movement.  

R.J. Snell

Witherspoon Institute

R. J. Snell directs the Center on Ethics and the University at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ, and is senior fellow at the Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good. Prior to those appointments he was Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Philosophy Program at Eastern University and the Templeton Honors College. He earned his M.A. in philosophy at Boston College, and his Ph.D. in philosophy at Marquette University. Research interests include the liberal arts, ethics, natural law theory, Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic intellectual tradition, and the work of Bernard Lonergan, SJ. He is the author of Through a Glass Darkly: Bernard Lonergan and Richard Rorty on Knowing without a God’s-eye View (Marquette, 2006), Authentic Cosmopolitanism (with Steve Cone, Pickwick, 2013), The Perspective of Love: Natural Law in a New Mode (Pickwick, 2014), Acedia and Its Discontents (Angelico, 2015), and co-editor of Subjectivity: Ancient and Modern and Nature: Ancient and Modern, as well as articles, chapters, and essays in a variety of scholarly and popular venues. He and his family reside in the Princeton area.

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.

Einat Wilf

Einat Wilf served as a member of the Israeli Parliament from 2010-2013 on behalf of the Labor and Independence parties.  She was the Chair of the Education, Sports and Culture Committee, Chair of the Knesset Sub-Committee for Israel and the Jewish People, and member of the influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the 18th Knesset. She has also served as the Baye Foundation Adjunct Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, Foreign Policy Advisor to Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a strategic consultant with McKinsey & Company, and as an Intelligence Officer in the Israel Defense Forces. Dr. Wilf has a BA in Government and Fine Arts from Harvard University, an MBA from INSEAD in France, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Cambridge.  She is the author of six books, including Telling Our Story, a collection of essays on Israel, Zionism and the path to peace, and The War of Return on the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee issue.

Speakers in the Tikvah Overseas Seminars are notable for their scholarship and their contributions to public life. They are chosen for their commitment to education as a noble calling and for their ingenuity in engaging with the best minds of all ages and backgrounds. This is a unique opportunity for overseas students to interact with some of the best minds and activists in the Jewish world today.

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To see speakers and lecture topics from previous years, click here.