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the ISRAEL STUDIES research seminar

Jewish Law in Israel: Law, Religion and State

Prof. Yuval Sinai (Visiting Professor of Law, Yale University)
4pm Thu 14 May, in A113 Samuel Alexander Building.
ABSTRACT: This talk will explore the way Judaism, as a religion and culture, and its legal tradition - the halakhah - is incorporated into the secular legal system of the state of Israel and, more broadly, the role of Judaism and Jewish values in Israel. The origins of Jewish law are thousands of years in the past, but whereas most other ancient legal systems are no longer relevant today, Jewish law continues to have great vitality and ability to adapt to the given time and place, and as such it is highly relevant even in the solution of contemporary legal problems. This is manifest in the application of Jewish law in the legal system of the modern State of Israel. Israel’s constitutional system is based on two tenets: (1) that the state is Jewish and (2) that the state is democratic. It is this commitment to the creation of a synthesis between particularistic (Jewish) and universalistic (democratic) values that has proved to be the major constitutional challenge faced by Israel since its foundation. Reaching such a synthesis is especially problematic given that approximately 20% of Israel’s citizenry consists of non-Jews, primarily Muslims, Christians, and Druzes. Even within the Jewish population itself, the exact meaning of Israel as a Jewish state has been highly contested. Not only do opinions differ as to whether Jews are citizens of a nation, members of a people, participants in a culture, or co-religionists, but even within the latter there are widely divergent beliefs and degrees of practice. This paper will consider the challenges facing the application of Jewish law in the modern state of Israel while attempting to illuminate deserving legal models that incorporate the Jewish tradition and multicultural society of Israel today.

SPEAKER: Professor Yuval Sinai is a Schusterman Visiting Professor of Law at Yale, and Senior Research Scholar of Law at Yale University Law School; Associate Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for the Application of Jewish Law, Netanya College Law School, and teaches Jewish law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan Law Schools (Israel); formerly Visiting Professor at McGill University, Canada (2007-2008). His research interests are Jewish law, comparative law, Law and Religion. He has published two books, namely, The Judge and the Judicial Process In Jewish Law (Hebrew University of Jerusalem Press, 2009) (Heb): Applications of Jewish Law in the Israeli Courts (The Israel Bar-Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 2009) (Heb.), and over 25 articles in these areas.

Further information about the CJS research seminar programme and other Jewish Studies events at the University.

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Harry Lesser, 72, following a stroke. As a philosopher at the University of Manchester since 1970, Harry was a much beloved teacher (he supervised 18 doctoral theses and 17 MPhil dissertations), and his research was primarily concerned with the history of Philosophy, especially Ancient Philosophy and Jewish Philosophy, and Ethics, especially Bioethics and Medical Ethics. He was a highly valued member of the Centre for Jewish Studies, where his wisdom, humanity and friendship will be sorely missed. He was also very active in the wider community; he gave many talks to groups outside the University, and he was a much respected committee member of the Greater Manchester Jewish Representative Council. Harry is survived by his wife Margaret and son Marcus. The funeral will be at 3pm Friday 8 May at Mill Lane Cemetery, Cheadle; there will be no Shiva.

other NEWS and EVENTS

Public lecture, CCJ

Catholic-Jewish Relations. To mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Nostra Aetate, Rabbi David Rosen will speak on 'Nostra Aetate: A Religious Revolution In Our Times: Transforming Christian-Jewish and Interfaith Relations' at Manchester Town Hall’s Great Hall at 2.00pm on Tue 12 May. ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS NECESSARY: Email the co-chair of the Manchester branch of the Council of Christians and Jews, or tel 07757 411 377.

PhD completion

Ros Livshin on Anglo-Jewish Political Nonconformity. The Centre would like to congratulate Ros Livshin on the successful defence of her doctoral thesis, "Political Nonconformity in Minority Communities: Representations of the Anglo-Jewish Experience in the Oral Testimony Archive of the Manchester Jewish Museum."  Her supervisors were Prof Daniel Langton and Bill Williams and the external examiner was Prof Tony Kushner (Southampton). See the list of current PhD students in the area of Jewish Studies at Manchester.

New Publication

Metatextuality in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterrean Cultures. Philip Alexander has co-edited On the Fringe of Commentary: Metatextuality in Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in the series Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 2014). George Brooke has contributed a chapter to this work entitled 'Physicality, Paratextuality and Pesher Habakkuk', 175-194. Further information.

PhD completion

Roman Vater on 20th Century Canaanite national opposition to Zionism in Palestine/Israel. The Centre would like to congratulate Roman Vater on the successful defence of his doctoral thesis, "'A Hebrew from Samaria, not a Jew from Yavneh': Adya Gur Horon  (1907-1972) and Articulation of Hebrew nationalism."  His supervisor was Dr Moshe Behar and the external examiner was Prof Derek Penslar (Oxford). The Centre also congratulates Roman for his appointment in 2015-16 as post-doctoral fellow at Oxford University. See the list of current PhD students in the area of Jewish Studies at Manchester.

Conference paper, Birkbeck Institute

Israel-Palestine conference. On 15 March Moshe Behar participated in an international conference on the theme of 'Equal Rights for All: A New Path for Israel-Palestine' at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. He offered a paper in the panel 'National Self-determination and Belonging: Reconciling Competing Nationalisms.' Further information.

Public Lecture, Music and Auschwitz

Music Research forum. Lecture by Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and author of the memoir Inherit the Truth, who will be speaking of her experiences as the only cellist in the Auschwitz women’s orchestra. Thu 7 May, 4:15pm, Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Martin Harris Centre. Further information.

Co-Directors: Prof. Daniel Langton and Prof. Alex Samely
Research Seminar Conveners: Dr. Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Harry Lesser | Administrator: Marton Ribary
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