Curriculum

Tikvah Online Academy students aspire to lives of meaning, integrity, and Jewish leadership. We believe that rich intellectual inquiry is the best preparation for such a life, and we aim to inspire our students with the best of our traditions—Jewish, Zionist, American and Western.

We offer a liberal education that will provide a foundation for our students’ thinking and flourishing, and our curriculum expands and deepens our students’ intellectual imaginations. Courses are taught at the highest-level by exceptional teachers. Our faculty is comprised of college professors, award-winning writers, policy experts, preeminent rabbis, and communal leaders—eager to teach thoughtful young students who want to engage in deep inquiry.

Tikvah Online Academy is a community of ideas, and our students engage in lively discourse and debate. Our virtual classrooms foster deep intellectual friendships among diverse young Jews from around the world. Wherever they come from, we challenge our students to learn together as one Jewish community, so that every young person can claim their remarkable inheritance as their own.

A Tikvah Online Academy education equips students for lives of free inquiry and free choice, the constitutive elements of a classical liberal education.

Our curriculum centers around the following four areas, which we believe all serious young Jews should study:

 

Jewish Thought & Western Civilization

Jewish learning must be at the heart of Jewish existence, now more than ever. But Jewish thinkers have always been in conversation with other traditions, from antiquity to today. We believe that that thoughtful comparisons between Jewish and Western sources can illuminate both traditions and direct us toward the enduring questions asked by both. These questions address issues such as love and friendship, life and death, individual and society, obedience and freedom, virtue and wisdom, and more. What does Judaism teach us about the most fundamental aspects of human existence? Our inquiry begins by reading Homer alongside the Bible and continues through recent thinkers such as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Michael Wyschogrod, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l.

 

Zionism & Modern Israel

Israel has been at the center of Jewish consciousness for millennia. Today, Zionism has resulted in the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and the return of the exiles to our historic homeland. We live in an era where the ancient dream of our ancestors is our reality, and we cannot afford to take this fact for granted. How did this modern miracle come to pass and how can young Jews contribute to the Zionist project? We attempt to answer these questions through passionate study of Zionist and Israeli political theory, history, and literature, as well as deep engagement with the heroes, statesmen, and thinkers behind the historic events.

 

American Civilization & Policy

America has been uniquely good to the Jews but now appears to be at a crossroads. Historically, perhaps, this is because of America’s Hebraic spirit and the profound influence of the Hebrew Bible on the American founding. For the Jews and other religious groups, America has proved the compatibility of the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty, and religion has been central to the American story at every turn. How do we understand the values and ideals that the founding fathers enshrined in our institutions of government, and how have the Jews benefited? In our inquiry, we seek to examine the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizens, as well as the preconditions and tensions of a virtuous and democratic society.

 

The Western Canon: Great Books & Thinkers

We believe that the study of literature, philosophy, and history are necessary for the development of moral character. The subtleties of human life are best conveyed through the written word, and through close readings, we often learn as much about ourselves as we do the texts. We read classics that have the stood the test of time because they convey deep truths about the human condition—truths that every serious person must confront. Through rich discussions, students come to recognize the relevance of these texts to their own lives, and they realize that they draw upon the collective wisdom of the greatest minds throughout human history to inform their futures.


FAQ

What is the Tikvah Fund?

The Tikvah Fund is a think tank and educational institution focused on the foundational ideas of Jewish civilization, the great challenges facing the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and the political, moral, and economic traditions of Western civilization and American democracy. Tikvah runs a wide range of initiatives in the United States, Israel, and around the world, including educational programs and fellowships, publications and websites, conferences, and policy research.

Our main interest is challenging exceptional students—from middle school to high school, from gap year to college, from graduate students to emerging professionals—to become Jewish leaders and Jewish citizens. We seek to expose them to the most important ideas—in Jewish thought, Zionist history, political philosophy, economics, and strategy—and to inculcate a sense of responsibility for Jewish, Western, and American civilization. We also offer extensive programming and content for the alumni of our various programs, and we encourage our students to think about their time with us as the gateway to a larger Tikvah community.

 

What is Tikvah Online Academy?

For many years, Tikvah has advanced its mission through a wide variety of residential seminars and summer programs. Tikvah Online Academy brings this kind of learning—with small classes, master teachers, and spirited discussions—to an even larger number of students through live, online seminars of 12-15 students.

Like our residential programs, Tikvah Online Academy seeks to offer the highest-level learning on Jewish culture and civilization, the history and heroes of Israel, the future of American democracy, the fight against anti-Semitism, and the principles of a free economy and free society.

 

How does Tikvah Online Academy fit into students’ education?

Tikvah Online Academy courses are an excellent supplement to a traditional middle school, high school, or yeshiva curriculum. We can also help you integrate our seminars into a home school or school pod experience, or a Hebrew school and bar/bat mitzvah preparatory program. Tikvah’s classes expose student to the greatest ideas of the Jewish, Zionist, and Western traditions and aim to inculcate a sense of responsibility for Jewish and American civilization.

 

Who are the faculty of Tikvah Online Academy?

Our faculty include leading professors, rabbis, policy experts, writers, and intellectuals from around the world.

 

Who can be a student at Tikvah Online Academy?

Any student interested in big ideas and serious discussion is invited to submit an application. We are offering courses for the following age cohorts:

✔ Current 7th and 8th Grade Students
✔ Current 9th and 10th Grade Students
✔ Current 11th and 12th Grade Students

The application process is simple, but competitive. After applicants choose the courses for which they wish to apply, they will be directed to fill out an application form with some personal information and questions about their interests, hobbies, and desire to participate in a Tikvah Online Academy course. Applicants will then be prompted to schedule a Zoom interview with one of our staff members. Final acceptances will be sent out within two weeks.

 

When do classes take place?

Each class meets weekly live over Zoom. All weekday classes are scheduled in the evenings, so they will not conflict with the school day. Sunday sessions will take place in the late mornings or evenings.

 

How much is tuition?

Each course costs $200. These seminars are heavily subsidized by the Tikvah Fund and its many generous supporters, but the course fee helps cover some of the costs of the experience.

 

Is financial aid available?

Yes. All qualified students will be able to participate irrespective of financial need. The application is free and the admissions process is need-blind. Full and partial need-based tuition scholarships are available. If you are interested in learning more about scholarship opportunities, please write us at scholarships@tikvahonlineacademy.org.

 

Do you need to have a Jewish day school or Jewish studies background to participate?

No. Tikvah Online Academy courses are designed so that students from diverse Jewish backgrounds can come together as equal partners in inquiry. The program is designed for both students who are deeply immersed in Jewish life and Jewish education already and students who are coming to Jewish learning for the first time.

 

Additional Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Irina Rakhlis at irakhlis@tikvahfund.org.