Modern American conservatism was born in the aftermath of World War II, shaped by a belief in limited government, free market economics, traditional values, and a strong stance against Soviet Communism. At the time, the overwhelming majority of American Jews supported the Democratic Party and President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal liberalism,” and a substantial minority of American Jews advocated for a more radical turn to the Left. But beginning in the 1950s, a small but influential group of American Jews began to think in a new way. They argued that conservatism was good for the Jews and that Jewish ideas could strengthen American conservatism. Their ideas fundamentally reshaped the conservative movement and the policies of Republican administrations from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. This course will examine the ideas and spirit of the new Jewish conservatives—including Leo Strauss, Frank Meyer, Nathan Glazer, Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Ruth Wisse, and others. How did these Jewish thinkers help shape modern America, and are their conservative ideas still relevant today?
Earn a Tikvah Certificate
For students who want to take at least 3 courses this summer, you can become eligible for special additional opportunities—including essay prizes/scholarships, special sessions w/ Jewish leaders, and a Tikvah online certificate.Learn More
Meet the Instructor
Seminars are taught by Tikvah faculty and experts in the subject matter. Please note that course faculty are subject to change depending on availability.
Rita Koganzon is Associate Director of the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy and a Lecturer in the Department of Politics. She is a political theorist specializing in the history of political thought. Her research focuses on the themes of childhood, education, and the family in political thought. She has published articles on the family in Hobbes, Locke’s educational writings, and the educational ideas of the American founders. She is currently working on a book that examines the relationship between familial and political authority in English and French political thought from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. She received her PhD in Government from Harvard University, and her BA in History from the University of Chicago.