Tikvah Institute Launches at JTS

The new Tikvah Institute for Jewish Thought of The Jewish Theological Seminary will seek to tackle life's big questions from a Jewish point of view. Issues to be explored may include war and peace, love and hatred, friendship and animosity, birth and death, justice and injustice, homeland and exile, political authority, human rights, virtue, happiness, liberty, and the existence of God (among many others), making the Tikvah Institute a place for those interested in deep and exploratory scholarship.

Designed as an educational program, the Tikvah Institute will focus on how Jews have framed and attempted to answer these questions across the millennia. It will encourage students to use the resources of the Jewish tradition to address these perennial questions today. In the spirit of inquiry and debate, the Institute will bring together JTS professors from various disciplines to teach courses for JTS students.

Beginning in 2010–2011, the first Tikvah course, The Jewish Encounter with the Human Condition, will be offered by Dr. Alan Mittleman (Jewish Thought), Dr. Benjamin Gampel (Jewish History), and Dr. Alan Mintz (Jewish Literature). It will concentrate on the fundamental and recurring issues of human existence as explored through classic Jewish texts.

A second course, Contemporary Jewish Philosophy and Theology in America, will be open to a select cohort of seven Tikvah Scholars, highly motivated students committed to philosophical and theological inquiry. Participants in the full-year seminar will interact with the thinkers whose books they will read, as prominent Jewish philosophers and theologians come to JTS to work with the Tikvah Scholars. The visiting thinkers will also hold public lectures.

Beginning in 2009–2010, the Tikvah Institute will sponsor an invitation-only works-in-progress seminar for scholars working in the field of Jewish philosophy. The seminar will meet twice each semester, giving participants—students, JTS and other faculty, and independent scholars—an opportunity to share their work with like-minded peers. The institute will take a key role in developing an intellectual community for persons engaged in constructive Jewish thought.

The Tikvah Institute will also coordinate with the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies to organize conferences and promote events devoted to Jewish thought.

A project of the Tikvah Fund, which generously sponsored the program, the Tikvah Institute of JTS will cooperate with existing Tikvah projects at Princeton University and the Law School of New York University.

For both students and the Jewish community, the Tikvah Institute will be a hub of knowledge that frames our individual interpretations of Judaism and life on Earth. In this way, the institute answers the question, "Where is the best place to learn truly and deeply about what it means to be Jewish today?"

Additional information about the Tikvah Institute is available online at http://www.jtsa.edu/Scholars_and_Research/Tikvah_Institute.xml.