On March 19, 2023, at Yeshiva College Wilf Campus,Zahava and Moshael Straus Middle for Torah and Western Thoughtin cooperation withAzrieli Graduate College of Jewish Schooling and Administrationconvened a historic multi-faith convention referred to as “Reclaiming the American Story.”
Chaired by Straus Middle Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Bradly Award-winning historian Dr. Wilfred McClay, writer ofLand of Hope: An Invitation to the Nice American Storyprogram, sponsored by Mitch Julis, Elie Gindi andmiddle Jack Millerwas a continuation of the seminar for lecturers in small teams held in the summertime of 2022, wherein the well-known historians Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, writerBible studying with the founding fathersand Dr. Diana Schaub, writerHis Best Speeches: How Lincoln Moved the Nation.
The March convention provided greater than 70 educators from throughout the USA, academic nonprofit directors and YU college students an in-depth have a look at the position the Hebrew Bible has performed within the American story. Accomplice organizations included Open DorMedia, Tikvah Fund, Civic Spirit, Religion and Liberty Discovery Middle, Spiritual Freedom Institute, Pepperdine College of Public Coverage andmany othersscientific facilities and academic organizations.
Rabbi Soloveichik opened this system by arguing that the covenantal nature of America’s union empowers the nation to beat its flaws and attain nice ethical and political heights. Just like the Israelites within the midst of their desert wanderings within the E book of Exodus, the American persons are capable of overcome their errors in fulfilling their covenantal beliefs. Subsequently, to decide to the American alliance is to decide to the concept individuals and nations can change for the higher.
Utilizing Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Tackle and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ writings on cultures of disgrace versus guilt, Elana Riback Rand, a doctoral scholar on the Azrieli Graduate College, introduced pedagogical instruments and strategies that members can apply of their school rooms, specializing in how college students may take into account to what extent we’re guided by the errors of the previous, how political and social actions can function a way to meet covenant prospects, and the way Jewish regulation views reconciliation and redemption.
Following Rands’ presentation, Dr. McClay examined why data of faith must be a part of a typical training for all Individuals and why faith-based training, particularly Jewish training, ought to embody publicity to American historical past. His solutions included “thecoreargument,” which, he argued, factors to our historic roots, the stimulating spirit of America’s founding fathers, and the constitutional order they designed and established.The Founders had totally different views on many issues, together with their very own private non secular beliefs, however they had been fully and clearly agreed on one factor: the inescapable significance of faith and the energetic encouragement of non secular beliefs to the success of the American experiment.”He additionally argued that “a correctly understood nationwide function mustn’t undermine sure affinities or functions, however strengthen them. Subsequently, an account of nationwide historical past based mostly on religion will embody its skill to embrace pluralism.” Moreover, “correctly understood, American civil faith additionally depends on sources of ethical authority that transcend the state and are able to holding the state accountable to a typical increased than itself.”
Danton Kostandarithes, a trainer training affiliate on the Jack Miller Middle, provided a pedagogical perspective on the subjects of Dr. McClay’s presentation, with one pattern lesson exhibiting how the structure of the home of worship itself displays the non secular beliefs and religious management of explicit religion communities, and one other specializing in non secular freedom and courts.
Within the first keynote of the day, Rabbi Soloveichik interviewed famend scholar of American Jewish historical past, Dr. Jonathan Sarno, Professor of American Jewish Historical past at Joseph H. and Bella R. Braun College and Director of the Schusterman Middle for Israel Research at Brandeis College. dr. Sarna spoke about the way forward for historic research in our period of “dismissal tradition”. He singled out the New York Metropolis CouncilChoice from 2021take away the statue of Thomas Jefferson from Metropolis Corridor, provided that the founders have been vilified in historical past as slave homeowners. Extra lately, Princeton College canceled an exhibit on Jewish American artwork that featured the work of famend postwar sculptor and former ally Moses Ezekiel. dr. Sarna additionally famous that each Jefferson and Ezekiel had been people who, regardless of their colourful pasts, ideologically disapproved of slavery. dr. Sarna additionally confirmedAmerican Public Biblea web based repository of Bible quotations in American newspapers over the previous 200 years, a useful software for educators and anybody within the historical past of the reception of the Bible in the USA.
Individuals then heard displays from curriculum builders and academic media corporations about on-line sources and new applications obtainable to reinforce classroom studying and trainer coaching. A particular spotlight was the premiere of OpenDor Mediasnew videoin regards to the position of the Esther Scroll within the American political custom. Provided with accompanying academic sources for the classroom, together with Straus FacilitiesEsther in Americaebook, the video is a visually partaking portal into the stunning and galvanizing position the traditional Jewish queen performed, and continues to play, in American society at this time.
Straus Facilities Dr. Shaina Trapedo then introduced a chat on the Psalms and the American Founding, recounting the wonderful story of the Bay Psalm E book, the primary ebook printed in colonial America. She traced the enduring affect of the Psalms on English literature, noting how nice poets from Shakespeare to Wordsworth drew inspiration from the traditional verses and rhymes of King David.
Following up on Dr. Trapedos’ presentation, Jackie Rosensweig, chair of the historical past division at Manhattan Excessive College for Ladies, provided an indication lesson centered on a group of letters exchanged between founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, which demonstrated their intimate data of Jewish texts and sources. , together with the Psalms. In a single dialog, Jefferson refers back to the Mishnah, Gemara, Kabbalah, Kuzari, and Sefer Yetzirah, whereas Adams laments the burning of the Talmud in France in the course of the Center Ages.
Greatest-selling presidential historian and former Deputy Secretary of Well being and Human Companies Dr. Tevi Troy provided an attractive presentation on America’s presidents’ relationship with the Bible, together with Jimmy Carter who taught Sunday faculty for many years, Harry Trumans who praised his early assist for the state of Israel by proclaiming I’m Cyrus (a reference to a Persian king talked about within the Bible) and George W. Bush have a behavior of ending studying the Bible every year. Troy famous that even in at this time’s polarized age, presidents on either side of the aisle proceed to cite the Bible in each inaugural speeches and main public addresses.
Nina Taub, director of training at Civic Spirit, then had the attendees break into small teams to discover Jewish and American sources associated to God’s windfall in Jewish and American historical past, a fascinatingly wealthy train that paired a various group of scholars (one studio the group included a YU administrator, a Tennessee public faculty curriculum skilled, and a Bible professor and former Christian school pastor).
The second keynote dialogue featured Dr. Dru Johnson, Director of the Middle for Hebraic Thought at Kings School, and Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, Director of American Research at Christopher Newport College, moderated by Rabbi Soloveichik. The panel examined how the Bible might be used as a supply of American reconciliation throughout divided instances. dr. Johnson famous a typical sample within the scriptures of biblical heroes admitting their errors and argued that Individuals ought to equally be taught to acknowledge troubled episodes of their collective previous as a part of the ever-advancing tapestry of American historical past. dr. Busch, a member of the White Home committee planning America’s 250th anniversary celebration, famous that as a nation constructed on concepts, it’s crucial that Individuals determine and spotlight these commonalities and rules that unite them regardless of their variations.
After the night screening, OpenDor Medias second new video (4 deliberate in reference to the Restoring the American Story undertaking) centered onExodus as a nationwide narrative that unites Americaand printed on the eve of Passover, Straus Middle Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner closed the convention with “John Milton in America.” Lerner provideda presentation of Milton’s use of the Greco-Roman epic type to undermine the pagan cosmological hierarchy, which classifies mortals in response to their energy and origin. As a substitute, Milton introduced, in his opusmisplaced paradise,protagonists who’re examined by their inside religious struggles. This shift in focus to the inside wrestle of the person paved the best way for the revolutionary thought that each one males are created equal.
Proceedings of the convention, together with the summer season 2022 seminars, shall be collected in a ebook edited by Dr. McClay.
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