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Torah Jews & American Conservatism

A Tikvah Institute for Yeshiva Men | New York City | August 14-August 18, 2017 / 22 Av-26 Av, 5777

Program Overview


The Tikvah Institute for Yeshiva Men is a five-day summer learning experience, geared to talmidim of the North American Yeshiva world interested in exploring the relationship of Torah Jewry to the greatest political questions of our time, and seeking to confront the challenges that traditional Jewish men and women face in contemporary American society.

The program will begin on Monday, August 14, 2017 and meet through lunch on Friday August 18th, 2017 at the Tikvah Fund headquarters in New York City.  The institute is fully subsidized, including tuition, travel expenses, books, activities, and a learning stipend.


The Theme: Torah Jews & American Democracy


Torah Jews in America stand for certain core values: the moral and religious obligations of Halacha, respect for tradition, the preservation of the family, the moral responsibilities of community, and the religious education of the young. How can these religious values be sustained in modern American society? And how should Torah Jews think about the most important political, cultural, and moral debates that divide America today?

The Tikvah summer seminar focuses on one particular dimension of this question: the relationship between traditional Jews and American conservatism, in the belief that Judaism and conservatism share certain core values, and that conservative ideas and policies can help strengthen Jewish communities. As the Torah community grows in numbers and influence, the time is now to think more deeply about the political philosophy and policy priorities of traditional Jews in America.


The Seminar: Enduring Ideas and Modern Challenges


The program has three central parts:


Part I: The Spirit of American Conservatism.

The first part of the seminar will explore the moral and political ideas of modern American conservatism. It will begin by studying some of the classical thinkers of the conservative tradition—including Edmund Burke and Adam Smith—and then explore how conservative ideas evolved in modern America. We will explore how the different strands of American conservatism—religious conservatism, free market conservatism, constitutional conservatism, and national security conservatism—relate to one another, and we will explore what conservatism means today for religious communities. This section of the seminar will be led by Yuval Levin, one of the leading conservative intellectuals in America.  We will also be joined by Princeton University professor and moral philosopher Robert George.


Part II: Jews and American Public Policy

The second part of the seminar will explore specific public policy issues—including the struggle over religious freedom, the debate about using public funds to support religious schools, and the cultural and legal redefinition of the family. We will explore the state of the American public conversation on these issues, and then explore how religious Jews should approach these questions, as Jews and as Americans. This section of the seminar will be led by Eric Cohen, executive director of the Tikvah Fund and a prominent commentator on American social and political issues.


Part III: Key Challenges Facing the Torah Community


The third part of the seminar will explore some of the major communal questions now facing the Torah community, drawing upon both the rabbinic tradition and the experience of Torah leaders. We will be joined by Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky of Yeshiva of Greater Washinton-Tiferes Gedaliah, Rabbi Aaron Kotler of Beth Medrash Gohova, journalist and intellectual Jonathan Rosenblum, and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of Cross-Currents, who will be in residence for the whole seminar guiding the discussions and engaging with participants.


Applications are now closed.