By: David Schmidt | News  | 

Straus Center Unveils New Donation and Programs

The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought will be expanding with the help of a donation from its Chairmen and namesake, President Berman announced in his recent interview with the Commentator. This expansion, President Berman explained, “will provide new opportunities for our students to be enriched by our current YU faculty.”

When asked how the gift will be implemented, Dr. Stu Halpern, Senior Program Officer at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, answered, “The Chairman's gift, for which we are very grateful, will enable us to offer more collaborative projects with faculty and graduate students, including courses, conferences, book projects, and a writing mentorship program. It will also enable the Center to select more Straus Scholars, undergraduates from Stern College for Women and Yeshiva College, who demonstrate high academic achievement and leadership potential, and who are committed to studying the great works of the Jewish and Western traditions.”

Elimelekh Perl (YC ‘22), a current Straus Center Scholar, said, “Being involved in this type of academic setting is a truly unique experience, and I'm really excited about the Center's future.”

One of the first noticeable, benefits of this donation is the procurement of renowned lecturer and author Dr. Dara Horn who will be visiting Beren Campus as the Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Straus Center for the 2019-2020 academic year. Horn will mentor Straus Center students, contribute to Straus Center publications and participate in public events on behalf of the Center, including an S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program lecture “On Jewish Literature and Belief.”

In addition, Horn will be teaching “When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Divine Justice and Human Creativity,” also on the Beren Campus. The course explores Jewish theodicy, through its expression in the works of Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka and S.Y. Agnon.

“Being involved in this type of academic setting is a truly unique experience, and I'm really excited about the Center's future.”

Elimelekh Perl (YC ‘22)

Horn received her doctorate degree in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2006, studying Hebrew and Yiddish. In 2007, she was chosen by Granta as one of 20 “Best Young American Novelists.” She has published five acclaimed novels, all of which are recipients of literary prizes. In 2012, her nonfiction e-book “The Rescuer,” published by Tablet, became a Kindle bestseller.

She has previously taught courses in Jewish literature and Israeli history at Sarah Lawrence College and the City University of New York and is frequently published in the New York Times and The Atlantic. To add to that list of impressive credentials, Horn was a Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard, where she taught Yiddish and Hebrew literature.

“I’m so excited to be teaching at YU,” Horn said. “After teaching at secular institutions in the past, it’s an honor to teach in a place whose approach to Jewish and Western civilization is so rigorous and rare. I’m looking forward to working with Stern students and the greater YU community — not just in teaching but in learning with everyone.”

“The Straus Center is honored to welcome Dr. Horn,” said Halpern. “Her renowned eloquence both in the written and spoken word, as well as her dynamism, creativity, and humor will contribute greatly both in the classroom and beyond.”

Featured Photo Caption: A Straus Center event
Featured Photo Credit: Yeshiva University