The Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) was founded in 2017 to confront the major challenges facing the Jewish people in America, Israel, and around the world. The conference is sponsored by Tikvah, and it convenes intellectual and civic leaders committed to the flourishing of Jewish, American, and Western civilization in the current age. Every year, we award our highest honor—the Herzl Prize—in recognition of a Jewish leader whose contributions advance our most cherished ideals.
The Jewish Leadership Conference is animated by six core principles:
- We believe in the historical, religious, and political significance of Jewish civilization. The moral and political teachings of the Hebrew Bible stand at the center of Western and American civilization. Modern Jews, both religious and secular, should see themselves as the carriers of this great civilization, and accept the responsibility of perpetuating Jewish ideas, Jewish culture, and Jewish life from this generation to the next.
- We believe in the preservation and defense of religious liberty, which is our birthright as American citizens. In America, every religious community should continue to possess the freedom to live, worship, and educate in accordance with their own traditions and ideals, without fear of punishment, penalty, or restriction by the state. As a small people in a great land, Jews should stand up for the cause of religious liberty with a loud and leading voice, and Jews of all denominations should actively defend their right to determine the values and policies that govern their schools, synagogues, and communal institutions.
- We believe that all Americans should have the political freedom and economic means to educate their children in a school that reflects their core values and priorities. All religious communities have a right to a fair portion of their tax dollars to support the education of their own children, whether in public, private, or religious schools, so long as those schools meet basic educational standards of reading, writing, and mathematics. To this end, we support school choice programs, tax credit programs, charter schools, and other vehicles that expand educational liberty in America. We also believe that religious schools of various types are essential institutions for the formation of good American citizens, educated in the virtues of personal and communal responsibility.
- We believe that strengthening the culture of the family is one of the most important moral responsibilities of our age. The flourishing of Jewish life depends on the strength of Jewish families—including the promotion of strong and committed marriages, the belief that raising children is a sacred gift and awesome responsibility, and the courage to oppose those cultural influences and trends that directly undermine respect for responsible family life.
- We believe that the Jewish people possess the same rights, privileges, and duties as every other people. In the democratic societies of the world, we believe that Jews should seek to preserve a distinctively Jewish way of life and to participate as equals in the civic and political life of their home countries; and that those countries should respect the liberty of Jews just as they respect the rights of all individuals and communities. Among the nations of the world, we believe that Israeli national sovereignty should be respected, and that Israel should be celebrated as one of the great political achievements of the modern age.
- We believe that America and Israel should stand together as strategic and moral allies. For decades, America has supported Israel in the geopolitical sphere, and America remains Israel’s indispensable super-power ally. Our two nations have deeply shared interests and values. America and Israel also have many shared enemies, who actively seek to harm or destroy us. In standing up for our ideals, America and Israel should stand boldly together. And in facing the political, moral, and military dangers that now confront us—especially the threat of radical Islam—we should continue to share intelligence, technology, and every necessary means of maintaining security and pursuing victory.
If you are interested in learning more about the activities of the JLC, we encourage you to sign up for email updates. To learn more about Tikvah’s work, click here to view our annual report or visit our website here.
Elliott Abrams is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund, as well as chairman of the Vandenberg Coalition and Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.. He served as Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for the Near East and North Africa in the first term of George W. Bush, and as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor in the second term. In the Trump administration he served in the State Department as Special Representative for Iran and for Venezuela. He is the author of Undue Process, Security and Sacrifice, and Faith or Fear, and writes widely on U.S. foreign policy with special focus on the Middle East and the issues of democracy and human rights. His most recent book is Realism and Democracy: American Foreign Policy After the Arab Spring.
Eric Cohen has been the executive director of the Tikvah Fund since 2007. He was the founder and remains editor-at-large of the New Atlantis, founding publisher of the Jewish Review of Books and Mosaic, and currently serves on the board of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Witherspoon Institute, and National Affairs and on the Editorial Advisory Board of First Things. Mr. Cohen has published in numerous academic and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Mosaic, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, First Things, and numerous others. He is the author of In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology (2008) and co-editor of The Future is Now: America Confronts the New Genetics (2002). He was previously managing editor of the Public Interest and served as a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics.
Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic, host of the Tikvah Podcast, and from 2018–2020, served as the executive director of the Jewish Leadership Conference. He was educated at Tufts University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Georgetown University.
Alexandra Rosenberg is the executive director of the Jewish Leadership Conference and the senior director of development at the Tikvah Fund. She is responsible for a broad array of development efforts, including overseeing the JLC and related community-building efforts, expanding charitable support, and managing donor relations. Prior to joining Tikvah in January 2022, Alex spent nearly seven years at National Review Institute—the nonprofit parent organization of National Review magazine—helping lead their development and events departments. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.