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New York City

The Tikvah Summer Fellowship on
Jewish Thought & Citizenship

July 27, 2014 - August 8, 2014

Stipend: $1,000, plus expenses
Application Deadline: March 1, 2014


Learn with World-Class Professors

The enduring questions of human life are central to the Tikvah Summer Fellowship.  In a wisdom-seeking spirit, Summer Fellows read classic and contemporary Jewish texts alongside the most penetrating philosophical and literary sources in the Western tradition.  Joined by the very best teachers from around the world, Summer Fellows encounter great texts and discuss big ideas in an atmosphere that combines careful study with urgent deliberation.  This year, Summer Fellows can choose from the following seminars:


Is Judaism a Religion?

Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University

Professor Batnitzky, a leading figure in Jewish thought and author of How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Jewish Thought, will lead an exploration of the roots of modern Judaism and the creative tensions produced by the clash between Judaism, as traditionally understood, and the modern category of religion. Topics for study will include the emergence of the various Jewish movements; the Zionist rejection of the claim that Judaism is a religion; attempts to rethink the question of whether Judaism is a religion in a uniquely American context; and the ultra-Orthodox attempt to reject the question of whether Judaism is a religion. Thinkers to be considered: Moses Mendelssohn, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Abraham Geiger, Heinrich Graetz, Hermann Cohen, Joseph Soloveitchik, Moses Hess, Ahad Ha’am, Theodor Herzl, Abraham Isaac Kook, Mordechai Kaplan, Leo Strauss, Joel Teitelbaum, and others.


Jews, Power, and the Bible

Micah Goodman, Ein Prat Academy

Dr. Goodman, Israeli author of bestsellers on the thought of Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi and founder of Ein Prat Academy, will focus on prominent biblical texts that address the challenges of power and sovereignty.  The course will hone in on the religious, social and psychological challenges that sovereignty presents for the Jewish people. A detailed, philosophical reading of Moses’s final speech to the Israelites on the eve of their entry into the Land of Israel will provide an occasion for considering how his advice, ideas and guidance were received and whether these principles are present in contemporary Zionism and Israeli society.


Reason, Revelation, and Jewish Thought

Moshe Halbertal, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and  NYU Law School

Professor Halbertal will guide students through a close study of Biblical, rabbinic, and medieval Jewish texts that posit and challenge reason as the guide to human life. The course will look at perennial questions such as: Can reason be an authority to a people whose way of life centers on a revealed text? How does the distinctive role of interpretation in the Jewish concept of revelation affect this authority? And what metaphysical, scientific, and moral convictions are required for a commitment to Judaism today? 


Zionist Statesmanship: Ben-Gurion and Begin

Daniel Gordis, Shalem College

Dr. Gordis, chair of the core curriculum at the new Shalem College in Jerusalem and author of the recent book Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul, will lead an exploration of the notion of Zionist statesmanship by looking at the lives of Begin and David Ben-Gurion. The course will examine a variety of incidents and conflicts over which Ben-Gurion and Begin locked horns, discuss the context and unfolding of those episodes, and study speeches that each made. Through these efforts, participants will uncover the foundational commitments of each of their worldviews. Such incidents for study will range from the positions each took toward violent resistance to the British to the views of each on of territorial expansionism in the aftermath of the Six Day War.


The Rabbinic Mind and Divine Law

Christine Hayes, Yale University

Professor Hayes, a renowned scholar of Rabbinics and Bible, will trace with students the radically divergent conceptions of divine law that emerged in biblical Israel and in ancient Greece: For the Greeks, divine law was divine because it was rational, static, and allied with truth. In biblical Israel, divine law was divine because it issued from the will of a divine being which can be arbitrary, override “truth” and evolve.  Students will enter into the “talmudic workshop” to see how the rabbis managed the tension between these dueling conceptions of divine law. Their labors gave rise to a conception of divine law that was scandalous to outsiders – and perhaps even to themselves.  How did they come to see the authoritative divine law as sometimes divorced from truth and rationality, and as evolving rather than static? And what do we gain or lose if we view Torah one way rather than the other?


Divine Justice and Human Creativity in Jewish Literature

Dara Horn, Distinguished Novelist

In the biblical Book of Job, Job’s challenge to God—“Why do people suffer undeservedly?”—is oddly answered with God’s challenge to Job: “Why aren’t you as creative as I am?” In this course, Professor Horn will address these twinned questions—the dilemma of divine justice and the related dilemma of human limitation—through the lens of both ancient and modern Jewish literature. How do authorial choices, including the choice of genre and style, affect how these questions are answered? Sources will include biblical texts as well as modern works by Nahman of Bratslav, Sholem Aleichem, S.Y. Agnon, I. B. Singer, Franz Kafka, Saul Bellow, and others.