Sina Fayaz Monfared

Student , Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

About Sina Fayaz Monfared

Since Israel’s foundation in 1948, the Chief Rabbinate has solely overseen the matters of divorce, marriage, and inheritance for all Israeli Jews irrespective of their religiosity. According to Pew, a plurality of Israeli Jews, almost 40 percent, self-identifies as secular. Nonetheless, state-appointed religious authorities regulate some of the most intimate matters of this nonreligious plurality. My research will revolve around this duality. As a Laidlaw Scholar, I will explore how the secular segment of Israeli society has submitted to disproportionate power of the Rabbinate for the past 71 years. The conflict between secular and religious forces sparks my intellectual curiosity as I myself experienced it growing up in a secular family in Iran. Contrary to Israel, Iran is a repressive theocracy with rogue elections and a totalitarian government. These factors enable religion to suppress secularism. In every contest, religion defeats secularism. However, Israel and Iran have two radically different systems of government. Unlike Iran, Israel is a parliamentary republic with free, contested elections. Theoretically, the largest portion of the populace, the 40-percent secular segment, should wield the most power. But that is not the case. For 72 years, the Rabbinate has exerted a profound influence on the daily lives of both 40-percent secular and the rest of Israeli Jewry. Yes, one can say, similar to Iran, religion defeats secularism in Israel as well. But it makes sense that a theocracy, Iran, would prefer religion to win. What is incredibly perplexing, and intellectually provocative, is why and how a liberal democracy, Israel, with a secular plurality, would allow religion to prevail. The causes behind and the future of the Rabbinate’s disproportionate power in democratic Israel greatly entice my intellectual curiosity. As a Laidlaw Scholar, I am seeking to examine this religious-secular conundrum in Israel.

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Area of Expertise

Humanities

Research Topic

History Law Population Health

University

Columbia University

Influencer Of

Topics

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

May 28, 2020
  1. How has your understanding of leadership changed from our workshops on this topic (or has it)?

I have always imagined that leadership was somewhat more traditional, in the sense that I did not know of the existence of a collective leadership which could be created where the entire group would be held accountable for the project rather than one individual. However, the collective leadership model makes a lot of what goes on in science make a lot more sense - frequently, people are working in teams of specialists, and so having each person accountable for their own component to making the overall project work happens rather organically. I had never thought of this as a form of leadership before. 

  1. As you consider your research project, what questions or challenges are forefront in your mind? What first steps do you intend to take to start your project?

I will be deferring to next summer, so I believe that maintaining ties with the group I'd like to be doing work with and continuing to follow up on what types of work they are doing will be key to starting next year. I also am in the process of identifying places to do a second project next summer after working with this group. 

 

Your observations about collective leadership are very interesting. Similar to you, I did not have any knowledge of collective leadership models and how useful they can be. As a person who does not have adequate familiarity with science research, it interests that the collective model is so foundational to science research.

May 28, 2020
  1. How has your understanding of leadership changed from our workshops on this topic (or has it)?

These workshops were tremendously helpful as they helped me refine my perception of leadership and what makes a good leader. Prior to attending these workshops, most of my understanding of leadership and leadership qualities was focused on outcome-side of things. I did not have any knowledge of the phycological processes that help a successful leader make calculated decisions. I am confident that the leadership skills that I acquired through these workshops will help me succeed in the future. 

  1. As you consider your research project, what questions or challenges are forefront in your mind? What first steps do you intend to take to start your project?

After the workshop on mind traps, I have an emerging concern about my research. The topic of my research is a hotly-debated controversy among my friends and family. Therefore, I have already been exposed to a myriad of opinions about my topic. My concern is that these opinions might adulterate the integrity of my research. I am wondering how I can prevent this from happening.

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