Yeshiva University Straus Center Videos


Scroll, Sage & Stage — "A Daniel Come to Judgment": Debt and Gratitude in The Merchant of Venice

In all of Shakespeare’s works, the name of the Hebrew prophet Daniel only appears in the (in)famous courtroom scene in The Merchant of Venice, where it is repeated half a dozen times to great dramatic effect. And yet, a close examination of Daniel’s presence in this climactic vital episode yields a deeper understanding of the play’s thematic exploration of debt and gratitude. Moreover, attending to the Daniel references throughout the play offers renewed (and perhaps revised) reflections on the influence of the Hebrew Bible and its interpretative traditions on what is arguably one of the most impactful works of Western literature.


The Art & Letters of Repentance: Shakespearean Shipwrecks, the Drama of Jonah, and Yom Kippur

The story of Jonah, runaway prophet and ambiguous penitent, has inspired some of the most compelling pieces of prose in the West— from Shakespeare’s Tempest to Melville’s Moby Dick. What is it about this sensational biblical episode that makes it a fitting reading for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar? Moreover, why are stories, more than sermons or other forms of spiritual service, the most effective tool for helping us navigate questions of self-worth, belonging, and purpose? By looking at Jonah through the lens of Renaissance drama, as well as the relationship between drama and devotion, this talk explores how the Book of Jonah uniquely empowers its audience to enact personal transformation and seek the common ground of collective responsibility.


The Esther Chronicles and Shakespeare's Henry VIII

The biblical story of Esther, Jewish orphan turned Persian queen, permeated Renaissance material culture from poetry to paintings to tapestries. Esther’s position as both foreigner and sovereign—and her eponymous text's focus on performed identity, the relationships between hospitality and politics, and the importance of chronicling history—finds favor in Shakespeare’s eyes when he writes Henry VIII (1613) in collaboration with John Fletcher. Through verbal echoes and narrative parallels, Shakespeare seasons his portrayal of Henry's court and queen consorts with the Esther paradigm and uses the Megillah as a touchstone for examining the standards of political conduct ascribed to a country that hosts a racially and religiously diverse population.

Twice Blest


Twice Blest is a podcast that explores Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible from the Yeshiva University Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. Hosted by Dr. Shaina Trapedo, Twice Blest brings you conversations from faith leaders, scholars, and writers that bridge the wisdom of Judaic and classical texts so we can live more informed and fulfilling intellectual and spiritual lives on an individual and communal level.


UCI Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible

Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible: A Conversation with Shaina Trapedo, ‘13

Learn more about how Shakespeare used the Hebrew Bible in his plays and the role of the Book of Esther in his play Henry VIII. This lively conversation ends with a fascinating coda on Queen Esther beauty pageants in American Jewish communities in the 1920s. Dr. Shaina Trapedo received her Ph.D. in English from UCI in 2013. She teaches at Yeshiva University and the Manhattan High School for Girls.



Episode 264: Reimagining Purim


From Vashti to Esther: Liel sits down with English professor Shaina Trapedo, who wrote about Purim-inspired beauty pageants for Esther in America, a new collection edited by former Unorthodox guest Stuart Halpern. She tells us about the surprising history of Jewish beauty pageants in America, and explains why the Esther aesthetic is more complex than it may seem.

Unorthodox is the world’s leading Jewish podcast - but you don’t have to be Jewish to love it! Hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine, each episode we bring you interesting guests, News of the Jews, and so much more.


Take One

Megillah 7 and 8


Today’s Daf Yomi pages, Megillah 7 and 8, explain that Esther, making the rabbis uncomfortable, insisted that her story be written down and passed from generation to generation. Yeshiva University's Dr. Shaina Trapedo joins us to talk about what motivated the Biblical queen, and how writing still has the power to transform us and history alike. What writing tips can we take from the Megillah? Listen and find out.Like the show? Send us a note at Follow us on Twitter at @takeonedafyomi and join the conversation in the Take One Facebook group. Take One is hosted by Liel Leibovitz and produced by Josh Kross, Sara Fredman Aeder, and Robert Scaramuccia. Check out all of Tablet’s podcasts at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Take One

Yevamot 85

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Today’s page of Talmud, Yevamot 85, raises thorny questions about the rights and responsibilities men and women face when it comes to marriage, childbirth, sin, and other human pursuits. Yeshiva University's Dr. Shaina Trapedo joins us with a riveting tale of Henry VIII and how his very Talmudic understanding of these questions shaped world history. How did Shakespeare forever change the historical record and our understanding of the famous king? Listen and find out.

Like the show? Send us a note at Follow us on Twitter at @takeonedafyomi and join the conversation in the Take One Facebook group.

Take One is a Tablet Studios production. The show is hosted by Liel Leibovitz, and is produced and edited by Darone Ruskay and Quinn Waller. Our team also includes Stephanie Butnick, Josh Kross, Mark Oppenheimer, Sara Fredman Aeder, Robert Scaramuccia, and Tanya Singer.

Check out all of Tablet’s podcasts at

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit