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.
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.