In February 1861, on the way to his inauguration as America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln stopped in Trenton, New Jersey, where he described himself as a “humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.” In describing Americans as an “almost chosen people,” Lincoln points to the Hebrew Bible and the miraculous story of the Jewish People as the American model of a particular nation with a distinctive purpose and universal significance. Americans no longer share a common understanding of the meaning of America’s “great struggle.” What is this nation for? What did Abraham Lincoln mean when he called the American people “almost chosen”? Freedom is essential to the American constitutional order, but Lincoln thought the soul of the nation was destined for “something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come.” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik of Congregation Shearith Israel and Yeshiva University will shed light on the debate gripping America about the meaning of nationalism, our civic identity, the role of religion in the public square, and how both biblical and philosophical ideas inspired the American founding and American public life to this day.

Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik

Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik is a senior fellow at Tikvah, director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, and senior rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. He is also the host of the popular Bible 365 and Jerusalem 365 daily podcasts. Rabbi Soloveichik previously served as associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan. He has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics, wartime ethics, and Jewish-Christian relations. Rabbi Soloveichik's essays on these subjects have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesCommentaryMosaic, First Things, Azure, Tradition, and the Torah U-Madda Journal. His first book, Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship, was published in June of this year by Encounter. In August 2012, Rabbi Soloveichik gave the invocation at the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He is the son of Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, grandson of the late Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, and the great nephew of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.