The Spirit of Jewish Nationalism
A Tikvah Summer Institute for College Students
Faculty: Ruth Wisse, Elliott Abrams, Micah Goodman, Eric Cohen
Dates: August 7-12, 2016
Location: New York City
This August, college students are invited to spend a week of their summer exploring the political and theological ideas that animate Jewish nationalism. This intensive institute is designed for university-level students living in America, Canada, and throughout the Diaspora who wish to uncover the moral and spiritual roots of the Israelite nation, and the intellectual and strategic challenges that confront the modern Jewish state. “The Spirit of Jewish Nationalism” will be hosted at the Tikvah Center in Midtown Manhattan. Admission will include room, board, and a stipend of $500.
Applications are due April 1, 2016.
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.
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 Crimes, Security 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.
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.
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.
When today’s undergraduates were born, the State of Israel was already half a century old, and it is not hard to see why they might take its existence for granted. But Israel’s rebirth and continued existence in the ancient Jewish homeland after long dispersion and exile should not be taken for granted. It is a remarkable historical achievement, the fulfillment of deeply rooted hopes and longings, and the result of masterful statecraft and heroic sacrifice. After the twentieth century’s terrors, the Jewish State today is guarded by a Jewish army, governed by a Jewish calendar, and its Knesset debates affairs of state in the language spoken millennia ago by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
But for all that, the threats arrayed against the State of Israel are more perilous and more potent than they have ever been. Surrounded by terrorists committed to its destruction from the north and the south, with Iran on the precipice of nuclear capacity, Syria dysfunctional, ISIS menacing, and traditional allies like Europe and the United States seeming to weaken in their support, the times call for a renewed vigilance. The achievement of Israel may have been a miracle, but it is a fragile one that requires each generation’s devotion and defense.
And that devotion begins with study. Each day of the institute includes the close and careful reading of George Eliot’s great Zionist novel Daniel Deronda with master teacher Ruth Wisse, Tikvah’s Distinguished Senior Fellow and a recently retired Harvard University professor. Zionist philosophy and Zionist statesmanship will be core themes of our discussions, and the moral imagination of Jewish nationalism as conveyed through literature will be the centerpiece.
Other sessions will be spent studying the careers and intellectual legacies of the great thinkers and statesmen of Jewish nationalism, both ancient and modern. With Ein Prat Academy’s Micah Goodman and Tikvah’s Eric Cohen, we will consider the political teaching of the Hebrew Bible and the careers, writings, and legacies of Theodor Herzl, Ahad Ha’Am, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion.
Students will also have the chance to consider the present moment. Former deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams will help us see the continued necessity of statesmanship and strategy. They will challenge our thinking about how the political leaders of Israel – animated by the spirit of a noble Jewish Nationalism – can secure and strengthen Jewish sovereignty and security for the 21st century.