Please join us as Roosevelt House and Hunter’s Jewish Studies Center co-host a discussion of the new book Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik. Devoted to ten of the most colorful, fascinating, and consequential Jewish political leaders over the past three millennia, Providence and Power fills an important gap in the study of leadership, statecraft, and Jewish identity. The author will be in conversation with the Director of the Hunter College Jewish Studies Center Leah Garrett.
While the examination of political leadership is nothing new in academic and popular western discourse, strikingly few scholars and thinkers——according to Providence and Power—have turned their attention to the rich history of Jewish leaders, and in particular those who provided vital leadership to the Jewish people. Highlighting individuals from the biblical period of Jewish sovereignty, the millennia of exile and formal Jewish statelessness in the diaspora, and from present day Israel, Rabbi Soloveichik delivers an insightful and overdue exploration of Jewish leadership through the ages.
Among the men and women featured in the book—including David, Esther, Shlomtsion, Yohanan ben Zakkai, Don Isaac Abravanel, Menasseh ben Israel, Benjamin Disraeli, Theodor Herzl, Louis D. Brandeis, David Ben-Gurion, and Menachem Begin—not all were firmly bound to Judaic religious teachings, writes Rabbi Soloveichik, but each in their own way was guided by the lodestar of their Jewish identity. By the mid-20th century, the legacy of past generations inspired modern successors bent on the re-founding of the sovereign Jewish state, a political feat that Rabbi Soloveichik describes as one of the greatest in human history.
By delving into the unique circumstances and predicaments faced by these ten individuals, and in particular the characteristics that mark them and their statesmanship as specifically Jewish, readers become familiar with what Jewish tradition has to say about the demands of statesmanship—as well as the qualities of successful Jewish political leaders encountering the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Meir Soloveichik serves as Director of Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and as Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Soloveichik has published widely on both Jewish and American history and has lectured around the world on the intersection of religious and political thought. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on the subjects of law and religion and served as a member of the State Department’s Commission on Inalienable Human Rights. He attended Yeshiva College in New York, studied religious philosophy at the Yale Divinity School, and earned his PhD in religion from Princeton University.
Leah Garrett is the Larry and Klara Silverstein Chair in Jewish Studies, and the Director of Jewish Studies and Hebrew at Hunter College. Her books include: X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II and Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel, which won the 2017 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award for modern Jewish history and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She has led a number of public programs at Roosevelt House.
Support for the Hunter College Jewish Studies Program is provided by the Eva Brust Cooper Jewish Studies Program Fund.