Annual Conferences

May 2023

What is the Talmud?
a conference on zoom co-sponsored by:
The Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law 
The Center for Jewish Studies
The Littauer Chair in Hebrew Literature and Philosophy
Harvard University 

(click on hyperlinked panel title for recording)

Tuesday May 2, 2023 10-1pm
Panel 1: The Babylonian Talmud: Text and Context
Jonathan Milgram – Theories of Formation/Redaction
Alyssa Gray – The Palestinian Inheritance in the Bavli
Yair Furstenberg – The Evolution of Amoraic Halakhah
Richard Kalmin – The Babylonian Sages
Geoffrey Herman – The Exilarch, his supporters and detractors    

Thursday May 4, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 2: The World of the Babylonian Talmud  
Moshe Lavee – Gentiles in the Talmudic Imagination
Charlotte Fonrobert – Social History of Gender and Discourses of Sexuality in the Talmud
Avigail Manekin – The Bavli and the Bowls: A Prolegomenon
Tzvi Novick – Theology and Messianism in the Bavli  

Tuesday May 9, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 3: The Bavli and Empire Studies
Yael Wilfand and Reuven Kiperwasser – Rome in the Babylonian Rabbinic Imaginaire
Simcha Gross – The impact of Sasanian imperialism on the culture and literature of the Babylonian rabbis
Michal Bar Asher Siegal – Christianity In and Around the Talmud
Shai Secunda – The Bavli and Zoroastrianism    

Thursday May 11, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 4: Talmudic Discourse I
Ayelet Hoffman Libson – The Hermeneutics of Mishnaic Interpretation
Willem Smelik – Bilingualism: Hebrew and Aramaic as Literary Strata
Shira Shmidman – Sources and Redaction, preservation and invention
Barry  Wimpfheimer – The Stam and the Stamma’im

Tuesday May 16, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 5:  Talmudic Discourse II
Richard Hidary – Makhloket, legal pluralism, polysemy
Mira Wasserman- Halakhah and Aggadah
Eliezer Segal – Aggadic Collections
Yishai Kiel – The Bavli’s Jurisprudence

Thursday May 18, 2023  10-12pm
Panel 6: New Directions in Talmud Study
Sarit Kattan-Gribetz and Lynn Kaye – The Temporal Turn
M Adryael Tong – Queer Approaches to Talmud
Beth Berkowitz – Animal Studies and the Talmud
Julia Watts Belser – Disability Studies and the Talmud
Max Strassfeld – respondent

Tuesday May 23, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 7: The Talmud: Reception and Study I
Robert Brody – Inscription, Reception, Study in the Geonic period
Ephraim Kanarfogel – Study of the Talmud and its Commentaries: from Rashi to Pilpul
Talya Fishman – Medieval Jewish Concerns About the Talmud’s Impact on Curriculum and Society

Tuesday May 30, 2023 10-12pm
Panel 8:  The Talmud: Reception and Study II
Yakov Z. Mayer – The Talmud in Christian Europe
Jay Harris – What Was the Talmud? Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Jewish Scholarship Weighs In
David Stern – Material Transmission of the Talmud: from the Genizah to Steinsaltz and Schottenstein  

Thursday June 1, 2023 10-1pm
Panel 9: Contexts of Contemporary Talmud Study and Closing Remarks
Shlomo Zuckier – Daf Yomi and the Resurgence of Talmud Study in the Traditional Jewish World
Tal Ilan – Feminist Approaches to Talmud
Ruth Calderon – The Israeli Option – Secular Talmud Study in Israeli Culture
Daniel Boyarin: What is Talmud?    


Jonathan Milgram is Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish Theological Seminary. His book on rabbinic inheritance law in comparative context, is titled From Mesopotamia to the Mishnah: Tannaitic Inheritance Law in Its Legal and Social Contexts (Mohr Siebeck, 2016). In it, Dr. Milgram engages the multiple strands of traditions in tannaitic literature (Mishnah, Tosefta, and Midrash Halakhah) and compares them with ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman inheritance practices. In addition, he discusses the social and economic contexts of tannaitic Palestine and their relationship to tannaitic legal innovation. 

Alyssa Gray is Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature and Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair of Rabbinics at HUC-JIR in New York. She specializes in Talmud and Jewish Law, about which she has written two books and co-edited a third, in addition to numerous essays for both scholarly and popular audiences. Her book “Charity in Rabbinic Judaism: Atonement, Rewards, and Righteousness” was published by Routledge in 2019.

Yair Furstenberg is professor in the Talmud department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and current chair of the department. His research focuses on the history of early rabbinic literature and law against the background of Second Temple Judaism and within its Greco-Roman context. His book, Purity and Community in Antiquity: Traditions of the Law from Second Temple to the Mishnah (in Hebrew; forthcoming in English translation), applies this approach in the field of purity law, which acquired new meanings as it was transformed from Second Temple to rabbinic Judaism. His publications also uncover the impact of the broader Greco-Roman culture on the evolution of rabbinic law and thought. In his current project, ‘Making Law under Rome: The Making of Rabbinic Halakhah within its Provincial Legal Context’ he examines the various responses of rabbinic law to its Roman legal environment and standard of law making, as well as the emergence of the rabbinic movement as a provincial elite.

Barak S. Cohen teaches at the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics, Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University. He is a guest lecturer at Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva University, New-York (2011, 2013, 2019). He is also a visiting professor of Jewish studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New-York (2019). Dr. Cohen has published extensively on the intellectual legal history of the Babylonian Talmud and the Historiography of the Babylonian Amoraim (history of the schools, source of early legal traditions, the chronology of the Sages etc). He is the author of the books The Legal Methodology of Late Nehardean Sages in Sasanian Babylonia (Brill Academic Publishers: Boston, 2011) and For Out of Babylonia Shall Come Torah and the Word of the Lord from Nehar Peqod: The Quest for Babylonian Tannaitic Traditions (Brill Academic Publishers: Boston 2017)

Geoffrey Herman is professor at the EPHE, where he holds the chair “Ancient Expressions of Judaism and Classical Rabbinic Literature”. He specializes in the history of ancient Judaism, rabbinic literature and the Babylonian Talmud. In the past he has taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at Cornell University, and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (USA). He has also conducted research at Harvard University, Geneva University, and at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Ephraim Kanarfogel is the E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature, and Law at Yeshiva University, where he teaches at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He is the author of five award-winning books, most recently Brothers from Afar: Rabbinic Approaches to Apostasy in Medieval Europe, and more than one hundred articles in the fields of medieval Jewish intellectual history and rabbinic literature. Professor Kanarfogel is a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and he serves as Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Jewish History.

Moshe Lavee is a lecturer in Talmud and Midrash in the department of Jewish History in the University of Haifa, and co-head of the new Inter-disciplinary Centre for Genizah Research and Education in Haifa, and the chair of the Early Judaism and Rabbinic Program in the European Association of Biblical Studie In addition to his studies on Aggadic Midrash in the communities of the Genizah, he works on themes of conversion to Judaism, gender and the construction and demarcation of identity in rabbinic Literature, and indulges in questions about the role of literary forms, intermingling of genres and the role of authorship in Rabbinic and adjacent literatures.  Moshe is involved in other initiatives aimed at fostering the academic contribution to the community in the field of Jewish Studies, including “Machshava Techila” and “Ruach Carmel” (B.A frameworks for young leadership and educators) and “Beit Chinuch” (advanced studies in the humanities for secondary school students, hosted in the University of Haifa.

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert is Associate Professor of Religious/ Jewish Studies at Stanford University. She is Director of Stanford’s Center for Jewish Studies and the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (till this summer).  She is finishing a manuscript for the Study of Talmud in Germany, as well, as has been for so long working on the Eruvin and its spatial politics, and the place of Eruvin for reconceptualization rabbinic law. She also is part of an international working group. on Sexualities in the early Scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Avigail Manekin-Bamberger is a senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on the social and cultural history of Jews in antiquity, with a special emphasis on Jewish society in the Sasanian Empire and ancient Jewish magic. Her first book (“Seder Mezikin”: Law and Magic in Late Antique Jewish Society, Yad Ben Zvi forthcoming) questions the scholarly dichotomy between ancient Jewish law and magic by arguing that legal formulations constituted an essential part of Jewish magical texts and Jewish legal terms were often invested with a “magical” meaning.  In her current project, she aims to offer a broad account of the social and cultural history of the Jews in late antique Babylonia – both rabbinic and non-rabbinic – and illuminate the diverse nature of Jewish society in this period.

Tzvi Novick is the Abrams Jewish Thought and Culture Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He completed a B.A. from Yale University with a degree in philosophy. After a very brief but instructive legal career, and an MA in Hebrew Bible from Yeshiva University, he enrolled in the PhD program in Religious Studies at Yale, from which he graduated in 2008 with a focus on early rabbinic Judaism (ca. 2nd to 6th c.). Professor Novick has taught at Notre Dame ever since, on subjects ranging from the Bible to modern Judaism and post-Holocaust literature and theology.

Yael Wilfand is a Lecturer in the School of Basic Jewish Studies of Bar Ilan University. She earned her BA and MA in Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (both Magna Cum Laude). During her years at Hebrew University, Yael also studied and taught Talmud and other Jewish texts in a number of Beit Midrash programs. She then attended Duke University, where she received her PhD in Religion (2011).  Her book Poverty, Charity and the Image of the Poor in Rabbinic Texts from the Land of Israel was published by Sheffield Phoenix Press (2014). This book explores rabbinic explanations of and attitudes toward poverty, and how rabbis in the land of Israel negotiated between biblical directives to care for the poor and Roman notions of hierarchy, benefaction and patronage. Yael continues to research rabbinic approaches to poverty and charity, and she has published a number of articles on these themes as well as the junctions of texts and material culture (such as epitaphs, architecture, mosaics), and in the relationship between rabbinic texts and the Roman- and Byzantine worlds.

Reuven Kiperwasser is a research associate at Hebrew University. He specializes in rabbinic literature, and his research interests include the interactions between Iranian mythology, Syriac-Christian storytelling, rabbinic narrative, and trans-cultural dynamics of Late Antiquity. His critical edition of Kohelet Rabbah (7-12) with introduction and commentary published by Schechter publishing house 2020-21. He has recently completed a book about the Babylonian immigrants in the Land of Israel and the acceptance of the Other in rabbinic culture.

Simcha Gross is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the Jews of the first millennium of the common era in their Roman, Sasanian, and Islamicate contexts. His first book, Babylonian Jews and Sasanian Imperialism in Late Antiquity, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. He is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton in the School of Historical Studies, and a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship for experienced researchers. Next Spring he will be a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies.

Michal Bar-Asher Siegal is Associate Professor in the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She is a scholar of rabbinic Judaism. Her work focuses on aspects of Jewish-Christian interactions in the ancient world, and compares between Early Christian and rabbinic sources. She is a faculty member at The Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and was an elected member of the Israel Young Academy of Sciences. Her first book is Early Christian Monastic Literature and the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2013, winner of the 2014 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award). Her second book is Jewish – Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity: Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2019, a finalist, National Jewish Book Award (2019).

Shai Secunda received his bachelor’s degree in Talmudic Literature, Ner Israel Rabbinical College; master’s in Liberal Arts, Johns Hopkins University; and MA and PhD, Bernard Revel Graduate School, Yeshiva University; with additional studies at Hebrew University (Iranian and Talmudic studies) and Harvard University (Iranian studies). His academic interests range from rabbinic and Middle Persian literature to classical Jewish history, the Babylonian Talmud in its Sasanian context, Zoroastrianism, and critical approaches to the study of religion, including gender and religion. Professor Secunda is the author of The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian Context (2014) and The Talmud’s Red Fence: Menstruation and Difference in Babylonian Judaism and Its Sasanian Context (forthcoming with Oxford University Press); and editor of Shoshannat Yaakov: Jewish and Iranian Studies in Honor of Yaakov Elman (with Steven Fine, 2012) and Encounters by the Rivers of Babylon: Scholarly Conversations between Jews, Iranians, and Babylonians in Antiquity (with Uri Gabbay, 2014). His articles have appeared in numerous journals and scholarly publications. He is currently a fellow at the Wissenschafstkolleg zu Berlin.

Ayelet Hoffmann Libson is a senior lecturer at the Harry Radzyner School of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. Previously, she was the 2017-2018 Gruss Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and the 2021 Gruss Visiting Professor at Penn Law School. A scholar of Talmud and Jewish law, she specializes in rabbinic law, the relationship between law and religion, and the history of Jewish law.  Hoffmann Libson received a B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her book Law and Self-Knowledge in the Talmud was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Willem Smelik is Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic Literature at the department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, UCL, and editor of the journal Aramaic Studies. He has held fellowships from the Lady Davis foundation (Jerusalem), the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (Oxford), Harry Starr fellowship at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (London). He has published on Hebrew Bible, Aramaic dialects, Aramaic scriptural translations and early rabbinic literature, including Rabbis, Language and Translation in Late Antiquity (Cambridge 2013).

Shira Shmidman holds a PhD in Talmud from Bar Ilan University. Her current research projects include the textual traditions in the Tosefta and the conceptual development of questions and question asking in the Talmud. Her most recent article, on the Stemma of Tosefta Yevamot, appears in the current issue of Tarbiz.

Barry Scott Wimpfheimer is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department at Northwestern University.  He specializes in the Talmud and other Rabbinic Literature. His 2005 Columbia University doctoral dissertation entitled “Legal Narratives in the Babylonian Talmud” was awarded the Salo and Jeanette Baron Prize in Jewish Studies in 2007. Wimpfheimer’s work focuses on the Babylonian Talmud as a work of law and literature. His book Narrating the Law: A Poetics of Talmudic Legal Stories implicates a new methodology of reading talmudic law thickly by incorporating oft-ignored cultural concerns within its understanding of the law. The result of such an expansion is a textured description of Jewish law and an illuminating window onto rabbinic Judaism in Babylonia.  Wimpfheimer’s The Talmud: A Biography was published by Princeton University Press in 2018 and received the National Jewish Book Award (Jewish Education and Identity Award in Memory of Dorothy Kripke) from the Jewish Book Council.

Richard Hidary is Associate Professor of Judaic studies at Yeshiva University. He studied at Yeshiva University and Yeshivat Har Etzion, received rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University.  He teaches courses in Bible, Second Temple Jewish history and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Talmud and Midrash, and Jewish ethics. His research interests focus on comparison of Talmud Yerushalmi and Bavli, Talmud and legal theory, and rhetorical analysis of the Talmud. Richard was awarded a McCracken Fellowship from New York University and was a graduate fellow in Jewish Law and Interdisciplinary Studies at Cardozo Law School. He was recently a Starr fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies. He is currently a Katz Family Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania.  He is the author of Dispute for the Sake of Heaven: Legal Pluralism in the Talmud (Brown University Press, 2010) and Rabbis as Greco-Roman Rhetors: Sophistic Education and Oratory in the Talmud and Midrash (Cambridge University Press, 2018).  His articles appear in AJS ReviewConversations, Dead Sea Discoveries, Dine Israel, Encyclopedia JudaicaEncyclopedia of the Bible and Its ReceptionJewish Review of BooksJewish Studies an Internet Journal, Madaei Hayahadut, Mehkerei Yerushalaim be-Sifrut Ivrit, Moment Magazine, and Okimta. Rabbi Hidary is currently writing a new translation and commentary on a section of tractate Sanhedrin. He also directs Merkaz Moreshet Yisrael, which runs the websites,, and

Yishai Kiel is a scholar of Jewish law, history and religion in the ancient and early medieval periods. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of the Jewish tradition with Zoroastrian, Christian, Islamic, and Manichean traditions in the Sasanian and early Islamicate Near East. He also works on the Iranian and Persian context of the post-exilic strata of the Hebrew Bible.  Kiel completed two Ph.D. degrees at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one in Rabbinics and Iranian Studies (2011) and one in law (2020; LL.D./J.S.D equivalent). He served as a lecturer in the Religious Studies Department and Directed Studies Program (Historical and Political Thought) at Yale University and in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; he was also a Blaustein postdoctoral associate at Yale’s Program in Judaic Studies; a Harry Starr fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University; and a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Kiel is the author of Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud: Christian and Sasanian Contexts in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). Kiel is currently an associate in Meitar Law Offices, specializing in civil and commercial litigation as well as international arbitration and

Mira Wasserman is director of the Center for Jewish Ethics and associate professor of rabbinic literature at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Her book, Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals (2017), is a study of how the Talmud describes what makes Jews different from others. 

Eliezer Segal is Professor Emeritus of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary. He holds a PhD in rabbinics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his primary areas of research include Talmudic literature, Jewish law and homiletics, and comparative biblical interpretation. His publications include scholarly monographs, popular scholarship, a children’s book, and many articles and book chapters on Jewish culture, history and religion.

Sarit Kattan Gribetz is an associate professor in the Theology Department at Fordham University. Her areas of research and teaching include rabbinic literature, the history of Jews in the Roman Empire, conceptions of time and time-keeping, and gender and sexuality. Her first book, Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism (Princeton University Press, 2020) examines how rabbinic texts use time to define Jewish identity. She is now writing her second book, Jerusalem: A Feminist History. Sarit received her B.A. and Ph.D. from the Religion Department at Princeton University, studied Talmud and Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a Fulbright Fellow, and served as a research fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Study.

Lynn Kaye is an Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought. Her areas of interest include Rabbinic law and narrative, philosophies of time, legal theory, and critical and literary theory. She completed graduate training in Hebrew Bible at the University of Cambridge and in Rabbinic Literature at NYU, during which time she held fellowships at Cardozo Law School and NYU Law School. She is on the editorial board of Oqimta: Studies in Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature. She has taught courses in rabbinic literature, Classical Hebrew grammar and theories of time. Kaye is the author of Time in the Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge University Press 2018), a winner of the Association for Jewish Studies Jordan Schnitzer Book Award, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship. She has published articles in the AJS Review, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues and Currents of Biblical Research. She is currently researching resistance to legal decisions in Babylonian Talmudic narratives and is at work on a book about time wasting in classical and modern rabbinic literature.

M Adryael Tong attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with honors in 2007 with a B.A. in Classics. She then earned her M.Div. (2012) degree summa cum laude, as well as, her S.T.M. (2013) at Yale Divinity School where she was awarded the Ping Teh Sie scholarship for seminary students of ethnic Chinese descent. M earned her Ph.D. in 2019 in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity from Fordham University and is currently revising her dissertation, “‘Given as a Sign’: Circumcision and Bodily Discourse in Late Antique Judaism and Christianity.” M’s work focuses on troubling the dichotomous categories of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ as analytic tools in the study of late ancient religion and culture. Her research interests also include the study of the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early Christianity, Talmud and rabbinic Judaism, gender and sexuality, post-colonial theory, and continental philosophy.

Beth A. Berkowitz is Ingeborg Rennert Chair of Jewish Studies and Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College. She is the author of Execution and Invention: Death Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2006; winner of the Salo Baron prize for First Book in Jewish Studies); Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Animals and Animality in the Babylonian Talmud  (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is co-editor of Religious Studies and Rabbinics: A Conversation (Routledge, 2017) and a contributor to it. She has published articles in the AJS Review, Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Quarterly Review, Journal for the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Ancient Judaism, Journal of Jewish Studies, and Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities. She was a professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 2004-2012 and has held post-doctoral fellowships in Yale University’s Program in Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and New York University Law School’s Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization. Her research interests include rabbinic literature, Bible exegesis, Jewish difference, and critical animal studies. 

Julia Watts Belser is Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, as well as core faculty in Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program and a Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Her research centers on gender, sexuality, and disability in rabbinic literature, as well as queer feminist Jewish ethics. She directs an initiative on Disability and Climate Change, which brings together disability activists, artists, policy makers, and academics to address how disability communities are disproportionately affected by environmental risk and climate disruption.  Her work brings ancient texts into conversation with disability studies, queer theory, feminist thought, and environmental ethics. She is the author of Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Power, Ethics, and Ecology: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has held faculty fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  A rabbi and a longtime advocate for disability and gender justice, Belser writes queer feminist Jewish theology and brings disability arts and culture into conversation with Jewish tradition.

Max Strassfeld is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona.  He specializes in Rabbinic Literature, Transgender Studies, and Jewish Studies. His book, Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature, was published in 2022 with the University of California Press and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. The book explores eunuchs and androgynes in Jewish law, and pairs classical Jewish texts with intersex autobiography, transgender studies, and theories of queer temporality, in order to argue that the rabbis use these figures to map the boundaries of normative masculinity.

Robert Brody is Professor of Talmud at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught at Yale and Harvard universities. He has published numerous books and articles, most of which deal with the literature of the Babylonian Geonim. In recent years the primary focus of his research has shifted to earlier rabbinic literature, primarily the Mishnah, the Tosefta and the Babylonian Talmud.  He is also the author of The Responsa of Natronai bar Hilai Goan (1994, second edition 2011), which was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Rabbinic Literature, and The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture (1998), which received a National Jewish Book Award.

Professor Ephraim Kanarfogel is the E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and at Stern College for Women. He is one of the foremost scholars of medieval Jewish history and rabbinic literature.  Rabbi Dr. Kanarfogel’s interests include medieval Jewish history, history of halakhah, history of educational theory and practice, intellectual cross-currents between Ashkenaz and Sefarad, pietism and mysticism in rabbinic culture, and medieval Jewish manuscripts.  Professor Kanarfogel is a lifetime fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, presently serving on the executive committee as Secretary; winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship; two-time winner of the Samuel Belkin Literary Award; and three-time fellow at the Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, University of Pennsylvania. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious international academic journal Jewish History, and has lectured at leading universities throughout North America, Europe and Israel, including Harvard, the Sorbonne, Cambridge, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Professor Kanarfogel has authored or edited nine books and published more than 100 articles and reviews. His most recent book, The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture of Medieval Ashkenaz, won both the Goldstein-Goren International Book Award for best book in Jewish Thought, 2010-2012, and the Jordan Schnitzer Book Prize from the Association of Jewish Studies for the best book in Biblical and Rabbinic Literature, 2010-2012. His next book is entitled, Brothers from Afar: Rabbinic Approaches to Apostasy and Reversion in Medieval Europe (Wayne State University Press: 2020).

Talya Fishman explores topics in Jewish history and culture from the 9th to 18th centuries within the broader regional contexts of Christian and Muslim societies. In Shaking the Pillars of Exile: ‘Voice of a Fool,’ an Early Modern Jewish Critique of Rabbinic Culture (Stanford University Press, 1997), she analyzes an early seventeenth century heretical Hebrew blueprint for Jewish modernization written (under cover of pseudonym) by a Venetian rabbi, and relates this enigmatic text to the theological and cultural struggles of former conversos who attempted to re-embrace their ancestral faith, and to the quests of self-fashioning Christians in a time of doctrinal lability. Dr. Fishman’s interest in Jewish legal cultures, their content, packaging, transmission and institutional implementation finds expression in Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Nahum M. Sarna Award for Scholarship. Her research into the origins of Judaism’s sub-cultures includes “The ‘Our Talmud’ Tradition and the Predilection for Works of Applied Law in Early Sephardi Rabbinic Culture,” in Regional Identities and Cultures of Medieval Jews, ed. T. Fishman and E. Kanarfogel (Littman Library, 2018), and in her ongoing work on the disparate cultural weights ascribed to custom in the legal systems of Ashkenaz and Sepharad. She is also at work on a book length study, Word and Image in the Biblical Artifact: Sensing Torah, which attempts to understand the cultural functions of masorah figurata and of the illuminations that recur in lavish Hebrew Bible codices produced by medieval Jews.

Yakov Z. Mayer is a postdoctoral fellow at the Mandel Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies.  He wrote his dissertation in the Department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, under the supervision of Prof. Elchanan Reiner and Prof. Maoz Kahana in 2019. Mayer then spent 2020-2021 at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, as a post-doctoral fellow at the Kreitman School for Advanced Graduate Studies and as a fellow in the ERC group JEWTACT. During 2021-2022, he was a Starr fellow at Harvard University. In his research, Mayer focuses on medieval and early modern Hebrew book cultures. His Book, “Edition Princeps: The 1523 Venice Edition of the Palestinian Talmud and the Beginning of Hebrew Printing” (Magnes, 2022), examines the moment of transition from manuscript culture to print culture. At Mandel Scholion, he will be working on  the early phase of Hebrew printing in Venice.

Jay M. Harris is Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies. He has been on the Harvard faculty since 1989 and specializes in Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History. His teaching courses includes courses on modern Jewish religion, law, thought, and culture, primarily in Europe. He also teaches two Gen Ed courses in the Ethics and Civics track, and has taught Humanities 10, a broad introduction to the Humanities.

David Stern joined the Harvard faculty in July 2015, after teaching at the University of Pennsylvania for many years.  He has also been the recipient of many fellowships and awards including a junior fellowship in Harvard’s Society of Fellows and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute, and grants from the ACLS, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation.  He has also been a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Princeton University, the University of Washington, and Nanjing University.   The main topic of Stern’s scholarship is the nature of Jewish literary creativity within its larger historical and cultural contexts, and he has written articles, essays, and books on virtually every period of Jewish literary history from the early post-Biblical to the contemporary.   The brunt of his work has focused on two areas.   The first of these is Classical Rabbinic and Medieval Hebrew literature with a special interest in Biblical interpretation (Rabbinic midrash in particular) and its intersection with contemporary literary theory.  The second field is the history of the Jewish book as a material object, and specifically the histories of the four classics works of Jewish literary and religious tradition: The Hebrew Bible, the  Babylonian Talmud, the Prayerbook, and the Passover Haggadah.

Shlomo Zuckier is a research associate at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.  He is a scholar of rabbinic literature and philosophy of religion and his prior work has focused on concepts of sacrifice, atonement, and Halakhah.  Zuckier’s current research focuses on conceptions of divine will that emerged in antiquity and the medieval period across Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Tal Ilan is professor emeritus of Jewish Studies at the Freie Universitat Berlin. Her research focuses on Jewish history in late antiquity, with a particular interest in gender issues in Rabbinic literature, the Hebrew Bible, and the field of Jewish Onomastics.

Ruth Calderon is the founder of ALMA, a Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv, a pluralistic cultural and intellectual center that brings secular and religious Jews together to combine the wisdom of the Jewish texts with modern thinking. She served one term in the Israeli Knesset as a member of the Yesh Atid party from 2013–2015.  Her book A Bride for One Night, developed seventeen passages from the Talmud into stories, many of which gave voice to women ordinarily silenced by the text. Calderon received a PhD in Talmud from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture Emeritus at University of California at Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in 1975 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has been an NEH Fellow (twice), a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, a holder of the Berlin Prize at the American Academy in Berlin and a Ford Foundation Fellow. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2006.  Boyarin has written extensively on talmudic and midrashic studies, and his work has focused on cultural studies in rabbinic Judaism, including issues of gender and sexuality as well as research on the Jews as a colonized people. His most recent research interests centered primarily around questions of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity and the genealogy of the concepts of “religion” and “Judaism.” Current projects include a critical edition of the second chapter of Bavli Pesachim, a biography of Josephus for the Yale Jewish Lives, as well as a book entitled: The No-State Solution: a Jewish Manifesto. His books include Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash (1990), Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture (1993), and A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (1994), and Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man (1997) all published by the University of California Press. Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism appeared at Stanford University Press in the fall of 1999 [French and Italian translations published]. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity has been published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2004 (winner of the AAR award for best book on religion in the area of historical studies in 2006.) Socrates and the Fat Rabbis in 2009 by the University of Chicago Press. The Jewish Gospel: The Story of the Jewish Christ was published in 2012 by the New Press (New York). A Traveling Homeland: The Talmud as Diaspora (Penn: 2016), Imagine No Religion [with Carlin Barton: Fordham: 2016]. Judaism: the Genealogy of a Modern Notion by Rutgers University Press in 2018 in the series Key Words in Jewish Studies.

January 2021

Tuesday January 5, 11am – 1pm EST 
Opening Remarks – Shaye Cohen
Panel 1: The Mishnah and History  

Martin Goodman        The Presentation of the Past in the Mishnah
Hayim Lapin                The Mishnah as a Historical Document  

Panel 1 Meeting Recording:

Thursday January 7, 11am – 1pm EST
Panel 2: The Mishnah in its Historical Context  

Vered Noam                Mishnah and The Dead Sea Scrolls
Catherine Hezser        Mishnah and Greco-Roman Law
Jonathan Milgram      Mishnah and Ancient Near Eastern Law  

Panel 2 Meeting Recording:

Tuesday January 12, 11am – 1pm EST
Panel 3: Social World of the Mishnah  

Adiel Schremer           Heretics
Ishai Rosen-Zvi            Gentiles
Gail Labovitz                Women and Gender 

Panel 3 Meeting Recording:

Thursday January 14, 11am – 1pm EST
Panel 4: The Mishnah in its Literary Context  

Yair Furstenberg         The Literary Evolution of the Mishnah
Shamma Friedman      Mishnah and Tosefta
Azzan Yadin-Israel       Mishnah and Tannaitic Midrash  

Panel 4 Meeting Recording:

Panel 5: Mishnaic Discourse  

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal          Mishnaic Hebrew/Language
Beth Berkowitz                        Rhetoric (including mahloket)
Moshe Shoshan                       Narrative 

Panel 5 Meeting Recording :

Tuesday January 19, 11am-1pm EST
Panel 6: Composition, Transmission and Reception  

David Stern                  Early Transmission/Publication of the Mishnah
Uziel Fuchs                  From the Geonim to the Age of Print
Chanan Gafni              From the Age of Print to the Nineteenth Century

Panel 6 Meeting Recording:

Thursday January 21,  11am – 1pm EST
Panel 7: The Mishnah and Judaism

Sarit Gribetz                Holiness in the Mishnah
Naftali Cohn                Mishnah as Utopia
Jonathan Klawans       Priests and Pietists  

Panel 7 Meeting Recording:

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Associate Professor, Department of Hebrew Language, Hebrew University

Beth Berkowitz, Ingeborg Rennert Chair of Jewish Studies and Professor, Department of Religion, Barnard College

Shaye JD Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Naftali Cohn, Professor, Department of Religions and Cultures, Concordia University, Montreal

Shamma Friedman, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish Theological Seminary

Uziel Fuchs, Head of the Department of Oral Torah, Herzog College and Department of Talmud, Bar-Ilan University

Yair Furstenberg, Assistant Professor and Chair, Talmud Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Chanan Gafni, Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Martin Goodman, Professor of Jewish Studies, Fellow of Wolfson College, and Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford

Sarit Gribetz, Associate Professor of Classical Judaism, Department of Theology, Fordham University

Catherine Hezser, Professor of Jewish Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Jonathan Klawans, Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, Boston University

Gail Labovitz, Professor of Rabbinic Studies, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University

Hayim Lapin, Robert H Smith Professor of Jewish Studies and History and Director of the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Program and Center for Jewish Studies, University of Maryland

Vered Noam, Professor of Talmud, Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud, Tel Aviv University

Jonathan Milgram, Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, Department of Talmud and Rabbinics, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Professor of Rabbinic Literature, Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud, Tel-Aviv University

Adiel Schremer, Professor of Jewish History, The Israel & Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, Bar Ilan University

Moshe Shoshan, Senior Lecturer, The Joseph and Norman Berman Department of Literature of the Jewish People, Bar-Ilan University

David Stern, Harry Starr Professor of Classical and Modern Jewish and Hebrew Literature, Professor of Comparative Literature, and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University

 Azzan Yadin-Israel, Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University

December 2019

Conference Program:

Please see below for select Video Clips from the Mizrahi Legal Studies Conference
December 10-11, 2019

Mizrahi Interventions in Political/Legal Thought
Chair:  Lihi Yona
Lana Tatour
: On the (Im)possibility of Palestinian-Mizrahi Alliance
Claris Harboun: Critical Thoughts on Mizrahi Legal Studies

Mizrahi Legal History/ies
Chair: Pnina Lahav
Karin Carmit Yefet:
A Voice of One’s Own: Mizrahi Feminism in Israeli Abortion Law
Inbal Maimon Blau: Mass Torts in Israel and the Mizrahi Identity – Legal, Social and Historical Aspects
Barak Atiram: Judicial Silencing of Mizrahi Voices
Omer Aloni: For There is Peace in the Village: Reflections of Orientalist Perspectives in Early Israeli Law

Roundtable: Mizrahi Methodologies
Hadar Aviram, Yifat Bitton, Sapir Slutzker-Amran, Yofi Tirosh

Knowing Mizrahi Identity: Criterions, Records, Adjudication
Chair: Rabea Eghbariah
Issi Rosen-Zvi
: The Right to Mizrahi Culture v. The Right of Mizrahim to Culture
Yofi Tirosh: Dance Club Door Profiling Adjudication: The Ambiguity Trap of Mizrahi Identity
Sigal Nagar-Ron: Statistical invisibility and its Implications: the Case of an Ethnicity-blind Approach and the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
Hadar Aviram: The Ethnic Djinn Comes Out from the Tin

Yifat Bitton, Chairwoman, Tmura, the Israeli Anti-Discrimination Center, COMAS Striks Law School

Mizrahi Jews and Jewish Law

Chair: Noah Feldman
Zvi Zohar
: Core Characteristics of Sephardic Halakhic Thought in Modern Times
Benjamin Brown:  Mizrahi/Haredi Legal Interactions
Chagai Schlesinger: The Dual Chief Rabbinate in Israel: Centralism, Pluralism, Discrimination

SHAS Roundtable
Chair: Noah Feldman
Moshe Arbel: 
SHAS and the Emmanuel Affair
Sagit Peretz-Deri
: A Feminist Critique of the Evolution of SHAS

 Mizrahi Discrimination and Clinical Education

Chair: Emily Broad Leib
Reut Cohen: Challenges and Dilemmas of a Clinic Director in Representing Mizrahi Jews in Poverty Law Issues
Efrat Fudem: Anti-Mizrahi Discrimination and Legal Education
Vardit Avidan: Representing Mizrahi Women
Neta Ziv and Sapir Slutzker-AmranMizrahi Cause Lawyers in Israel: Harnessing Ethnic Consciousness and Legal Professionalism

Mizrahi Representation and Speech Regulation
Chair: Oshra Shaib Lerer
Magi Otsri
: David Levy Walks into A Bar: Regulating offensive anti-Mizrahi humor on Israeli TV
Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber: The Politics of Mizrahi Representation, and the Fight for Justice: The Yemenite Babies Affair
Natalie Haziza: Traces of Absence: How the trauma of the Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Kidnapped Children Affair is presented in home-movies and photographs
Joshua Lipson: The Ashkenazi Revolution Affair and the Forming of Mizrahi Ethnic Politics

Spatial Dimensions and Mizrahi Positionality

Chair: Derek Penslar
Yael Berda
: Reversing Internal Colonialism – Towards Administrative Principles of Affirmative Inclusion
Yishai Blank
Mizrahi Legal Studies at a Crossroad: Between Classical Critique and Critique in an Era of Liberal Decline.
Alexandre Kedar: Mizhrahi Jews under the Israeli Land Regime: Between Asheknazi Founders and Indigenous Palestinians
Fady Khoury: The Ambiguity of Segregation Regulation in Israel in Relation to Palestinians and Mizrahim

December 2018


The debate over whether Halakhah evolves is evergreen. But among those who accept its evolution, there remains a deep set of descriptive and normative questions about how Halakhah changes over time. Is Halakhah changed by conscious effort or unconscious development? May we seek to shape the direction of Halakhah? If so, according to what values? Can we retain fidelity to the practice of Halakhah (assuming that is desirable) while seeking concord with values drawn from outside the Jewish tradition? Does the contested value of “progress” fit the Halakhic process, and if so, how? This conference seeks to address these questions from multiple standpoints, historical and normative, and across the full range of possible attitudes toward Halakhah and its binding or guiding character. In this day and half long conference, our goal is to generate conversations that will help map the full contemporary scene of Halakhic thought and also enable thoughtful exchange about the normative questions that pervade the realm of thinking around Halakhah.



Opening Remarks by Noah Feldman  (

Session I: “Communal Boundaries I: Who or What is a Jew?” with presentations by Toba Spitzer (“Beyond Halakhah: Identity, Status, and the Value of Inclusion”), Seth Farber (“Conversions in the State of Israel: Past, Present, and Future?”), Michael J. Broyde (“Half Breeds? Zera Yisrael, Jewish Souls and Conversion after Intermarriage”), and Hannah Kehat (“Judaism as a Choice: The Case of Religious Feminism”) (

Keynote Address:   “Incremental Change and Paradigm Shifts: Pathways Forward for Progressive Halakhah,”by Ethan Tucker (

Session II“Roundtable on Contemporary Challenges: Gender, Sexuality and Beyond,” with presentations by Emily Blake (“Adapting a Centuries Old Tradition of Circumcision to Our Ever Evolving Times”), Lisa Fishbayn Joffe (“Agunah Activists: Perspectives on Halakhic Change”), Carrie Bornstein (“Welcoming Fluidity: Exploring Transgender Empowerment at the Mikveh”), Steve Greenberg (“Envisioning an Orthodox Gay Wedding Ritual: An Inquiry Into The Meanings Of Marriage”) (

Session III“Movements and Post-Movements,” with presentations by Benay Lappe (“A Queer Take on Halakhah from a Traditionally Radical Yeshiva”), Shaul Magid, (“Is ‘Post-Halakhah’ Averah Lishma?”), Devorah Zlochower (“The Role of the Questioner in the Halakhic Conversation”), Leonard Matanky (“Engagement and Boundaries: The RCA and the Ordination of Women”) (

Lunchtime Discussion: “Kashrut: Do Jewish Ethics Matter?” with Barry Shrage, Moshe Taub, and Ayalon Eliach (

Keynote Address “Teaching, Learning, and Living Halakhah in a Pluralistic Context: A View from the Hebrew College Rabbinical School,” by Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld, Jane Kanarek, Ayalon Eliach (

Session IV: “Progressivism, Zionism and Messianism,” with presentations by Don Seeman (“Secular Apostasy and the Limits of Progressive Law: The Case of the Feres Mura Jews in Israel”), Ronit Irshai (“Religious Feminism, Trapped between Halakhah, Essentialism and Nationalism”), Yehudah Mirsky (“Reflections on Teleology, Change, and the Nationalization of Halakhah in the State of Israel”) (

Introduction to Session V:  “Who or What is an Orthodox Rabbi?” by Adam S. Ferziger (

Session V: “Communal Boundaries II: Who or What is an Orthodox Rabbi?” with presentations by Lisa Septimus, “Yoetzot Halachah: Playing by the Rules or Reinventing Them?”), Rahel Berkovits (“Freedom of Thought: Orthodoxy in Modern Israel”), Lila Kagedan (“The View from a Congregational Rabbi, Ethicist, Poseket: Wearing Several Hats”), Ezra Y. Schwartz (“Moving Forward Traditionally, Without Paralysis”) (

Day 1 (December 19, 2018)

12pm: Noah Feldman, Opening Remarks

12:30- 3:00pm:

 Session I: “Communal Boundaries I: Who or What is a Jew?”

  • Toba Spitzer, “Beyond Halakhah: Identity, Status, and the Value of Inclusion”
  • Seth Farber, “Conversions in the State of Israel: Past, Present, and Future?”
  • Michael Broyde, “Half Breeds?  Zera Yisrael, Jewish Souls and Conversion after Intermarriage”
  • Hannah Kehat, “Judaism as a Choice: The Case of Religious Feminism”

3:00-3:15pm: Break


Keynote: Ethan Tucker

“Incremental Change and Paradigm Shifts: Pathways Forward for Progressive Halakhah”

3:45-4:00pm: Break


Session II: “Roundtable on Contemporary Challenges: Gender, Sexuality and Beyond”

  • Emily Blake, “Adapting a Centuries Old Tradition of Circumcision to Our Ever Evolving Times”
  • Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, “Agunah Activists: Perspectives on Halakhic Change”
  • Carrie Bornstein, “Welcoming Fluidity: Exploring Transgender Empowerment at the Mikveh”
  • Steve Greenberg, “Envisioning an Orthodox Gay Wedding Ritual: An Inquiry Into The Meanings Of Marriage”

6:30pm: Dinner for conference participants and guests

 Day 2 (December 20, 2018)

9:00am: Noah Feldman, Opening Remarks


Session III: “Movements and Post-Movements”

  • Benay Lappe, “A Queer Take on Halakhah from a Traditionally Radical Yeshiva”
  • Shaul Magid, “Is ‘Post-Halakhah’ Averah Lishma?”
  • Devorah Zlochower, “The Role of the Questioner in the Halakhic Conversation”

11:45am-12:00am: Break

12:00pm – 1:15pm:

Lunchtime Discussion: “Kashrut: Do Jewish Ethics Matter?” moderated by Barry Shrage

  • Morris Allen
  • Moshe Taub

1:15pm-1:30pm: Break


Keynote: Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld, Jane Kanarek, Ayalon Eliach

“Teaching, Learning, and Living Halakhah in a Pluralistic Context: A View from the Hebrew College Rabbinical School”

2:00-2:15pm: Break


Session IV: “Progressivism, Zionism and Messianism”

  • Don Seeman, “Secular Apostasy and the Limits of Progressive Law: The Case of the Feres Mura Jews in Israel”
  • Ronit Irshai, “Religious Feminism, Trapped between Halakhah, Essentialism and Nationalism”
  • Yehudah Mirsky, “Reflections on Teleology, Change, and the Nationalization of Halakhah in the State of Israel”

3:30 – 3:45pm: Break

3:45pm – 5:45pm:

Session V: “Communal Boundaries II: Who or What is an Orthodox Rabbi?” (moderated by Adam S. Ferziger)

  • Leonard Matanky, “Engagement and Boundaries: The RCA and the Ordination of Women”
  • Lisa Septimus, “Yoetzot Halachah: Playing by the Rules or Reinventing Them?”
  • Rahel Berkovits, “Freedom of Thought: Orthodoxy in Modern Israel”
  • Ezra Y. Schwartz, “Moving Forward Traditionally, Without Paralysis”
  • Lila Kagedan, “The View from a Congregational Rabbi, Ethicist, Poseket: Wearing Several Hats”

5:45 – 6:00pm: Noah Feldman, Closing Remarks

Speaker and Moderator Bios:

  1. Morris Allen has served as the rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota since 1986, and he will be retiring in July 2019. He was the Founder and Project Director of Magen Tzedek, an organization devoted to the assurance of producing kosher food in a manner that is consistent with Jewish ethical norms. While the project is currently on hiatus, this work has transformed the discourse and understanding of Kashrut and the role it needs to play inside the life of the Jewish community.
  2. Rahel Berkovits is a senior lecturer in Mishnah, Talmud and halakha, at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where she has been teaching for over twenty years. Rabbi Rahel Berkovits  writes articles and lectures widely in both Israel and abroad on topics concerning women and Jewish law and a Jewish sexual ethic.  She is the Halakhic Editor for TaShma the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance’s Halakhic Source-guide Series, soon to be published by Koren Publishing as Hilkhot Nashim. Rahel is a founding member of Congregation Shirah Hadasha, a halakhic partnership Synagogue, and serves on their halakha committee. In June 2015, Rahel received Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbis Herzl Hefter and Daniel Sperber.
  3. Emily J. Blake, MD, is a board certified OB/Gyn who worked in reproductive endocrinology. As a mohel she is a graduate of both the JTS Brit Kodesh (conservative) and the HUC Brit Milah (reform) programs, but works with families of every stripe and from every Jewish denomination. After leaving clinical medicine and research, she has been a full time mohel for the past 10 years, primarily in New York/New Jersey, but ranging from Connecticut to Philadelphia and beyond, with the rare excursion to Japan. She lives with her partner just north of New York City.
  4. Carrie Bornstein, is the Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA. She has been with Mayyim Hayyim since she became a volunteer Mikveh Guide in 2006.  Since then she served as Mikveh Center Director, Assistant Director, and Acting Executive Director. Carrie is now leading Mayyim Hayyim to transition from a robust start-up to a sustainable grown-up. She oversees staffing, board development, fundraising, and national consultation. In 2013, Combined Jewish Philanthropies named Carrie one of the 18 most influential young adults in Boston. A cum laude graduate of Skidmore College, Carrie received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University with a focus on Macro Practice, including non-profit management, planning and program development, and community organizing. A graduate of the first cohort of DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching) at Brandeis University, Carrie also studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Carrie lives in Sharon, MA, with her husband, Jamie, and their three young children, Eliana, Dovi, and Jonah.
  5. Michael J. Broyde is Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and Senior Fellow and Projects Director at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. His primary areas of interest are law and religion, Jewish law and ethics, family law, and comparative religious law. His most recent books are Sharia Tribunals, Rabbinical Courts, and Christian Panels: Religious Arbitration in America and the West (2017) and A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts (2017). During the 2018-2019 academic year, Broyde is a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is working on four manuscripts. Topics include religious arbitration in nations that have established religions, kidney transplants and vouchers, Jewish law issues related to modesty, and a modern explication of the book of Genesis. He is also translating A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts into Hebrew.  Rabbi Broyde was ordained at Yeshiva University (yore yore yadin yadin), served as the founding rabbi of the Young Israel Congregation in Atlanta for many years, Rosh Kollel of the Atlanta Torah Mitzion Kollel during its tenure, served as the head of a rabbinical court for conversion for a decade, and was a dayan and member of the Beth Din of America for more than 15 years, including a period of time as the director.
  6. Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld became President of Hebrew College in July 2018, after being appointed President-Elect in fall 2017 and serving as Acting President from January-June 2018.  Rabbi Anisfeld first came to Hebrew College in 2003 as an adjunct faculty member of the Rabbinical School and then served as Dean of Students from 2005-2006.   She went on to serve as Dean of the Rabbinical School for eleven years, from 2006-2017.   Rabbi Anisfeld graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990, and subsequently spent 15 years working in pluralistic settings as a Hillel rabbi at Tufts, Yale and Harvard universities. She has been a regular summer faculty member for the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel since 1993 and is co-editor of two volumes of women’s writings on Passover *The Women’s Seder Sourcebook: Rituals and Readings for Use at the Passover Seder* (2002) and *The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom* (2002).
  7. Ayalon Eliach is the Director of Learning and Strategic Communications at Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah—a private foundation committed to helping people apply particular Jewish wisdom to universal human questions. Rabbi Ayalon Eliach holds a BA, summa cum laude, in Religious Studies from Yale University, a JD, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, and Rabbinic Ordination as well as an MA in Judaic Studies from Hebrew College. His writing has appeared in the Forward, Haaretz, Huffington Post, and other publications.
  8. Seth Farber received his Ph.D. from Hebrew University and his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University.  He is the founder of ITIM: The Jewish Advocacy Center and Giyur K’Halacha, the largest Orthodox conversion court in Israel. Through ITIM, Rabbi Farber has been responsible for creating greater transparency in the Israeli Rabbinate by suing the rabbinate in Israel’s highest court.  Some of the cases involved the recognition of converts in the IDF, the “blacklist” of rabbis from overseas, and the rabbinical court initiated Jewishness investigations.  Rabbi Farber is the rabbi of Kehillat Netivot in Raanana, Israel, where he lives with his wife and five children.
  9. Adam S. Ferziger holds the Samson Raphael Hirsch Chair in the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University.  He is a senior associate at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and co-convener of the annual Oxford Summer Institute on Modern and Contemporary Judaism. His book Beyond Sectarianism, published in 2015, was the winner of the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies. Most recently, he was appointed to head Bar-Ilan’s new Center for the Study of Judaism in Israel and North America.
  10. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is the Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University where she teaches in the Philosophy and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Departments and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.  She is also director of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law that explores the tension between women’s equality claims and religious laws.  Her research focuses on gender and multiculturalism in family law and on the intersection between secular and religious law. She is the author of *Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions* (2012); *The Polygamy Question* (2015); *Women’s Rights and Religious Law* (2016) and was guest editor of a special issue of *Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues on New Historical and Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce* (2017). She is a co-founder of the Boston Agunah Task Force, devoted to research, education and advocacy for women under Jewish family law.
  11. Steven Greenberg received his B.A. in philosophy from Yeshiva University and his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Greenberg is a founder of the Jerusalem Open House, Jerusalem’s first gay and lesbian community center. He is the author of the award winning book, *Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition* (2004) for which he won the Koret Jewish Book Award for Philosophy and Thought in 2005. Rabbi Greenberg is currently a faculty member of the Hartman Institute of North America and the Founding Director of Eshel, an Orthodox LGBT community support, education and advocacy organization. He lives with his partner Steven Goldstein and daughter Amalia in Boston.
  12. Ronit Irshai is an Associate Professor in the gender studies program at Bar Ilan University and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman institute in Jerusalem. A member in “Kolech” – A religious feminist forum. She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School during the academic year of 2007-2008, and a visiting scholar at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute in Fall 2016. Her research focuses on theology, gender and sexuality, Jewish religious feminism,  queer theory and modern Jewish law (halakhah).She has published series of articles on those subjects. Her first book is *Fertility and Jewish Law – Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox Responsa Literature* (2012) and she is now working on two new books: The first one is on gender essentialism in contemporary halakhah and the second is on Muslim and Jewish feminisms in Israel.
  13. Lila Kagedan is a dual Canadian and American citizen, the first Orthodox woman to adopt the title of rabbi. Rabbi Kagedan holds degrees and certificates from Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The University of Toronto, Harvard University, The Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Massachusetts General Hospital and is a Shalom Hartman Institute RLI fellow.  She is also a Hadassah Brandeis Institute-Gender, Culture, Religion and Law Research Associate. She was ordained in 2015, by Maharat and is the senior rabbi at the Walnut Street Synagogue, an Orthodox synagogue in Chelsea, MA. She is also the founder of the Sulam School in Brookline, MA. Rabbi Kagedan is a professor of medicine and  bioethics at New York Medical College and is a clinical ethicist as well as a chaplain in hospitals and hospices. She is currently studying for Yadin Yadin smicha.
  14. Jane Kanarek is Associate Professor of Rabbinics and Associate Dean of Academic Development and Advising at Hebrew College. She is the author of *Biblical Narrative and the Formation of Rabbinic Law* (2014) and the co-editor of *Learning to Read Talmud: What It Looks Like and How it Happens* (2016)  and *Motherhood in the Jewish Cultural Imagination* (2017), both of which were finalists for the National Jewish Book Award. A member of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, she received her doctorate from the University of Chicago and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
  15. Hannah Kehat is the founder of “Kolech: Religious Women’s Forum,” the State of Israel’s first Orthodox Jewish feminist movement, which she established in 1998, and led it for many years. Kehat led to far-reaching changes to the civic and religious equality of the status of women in religious society in Israel, Dr. Hannah Kehat is an academic, researcher and lecturer at the Givat Washington Academic College.  She did her doctorate in Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has received a Honoris causa doctorate from the Weizmann Institute in Rechovot, Israel and from Hebrew Union College in Israel. She received the Presidential recognition for Volunteer Work in 2004. And in 2016 she was awarded a Rappaport Prize for Women Generating Change in Israeli Society. Prof. Kehat has published many scholarly and popular articles as well as four books: *Mishnat Hanatziv*, *Feminism and Judaism: From Collision to Regeneration*, *Women’s Torah Study: The Idea and Meaning*. In 2016 she published the book, *When Torah Became Torah Study – Changes in the Idea of Talmud Torah in Modern Eras*, which was awarded in 2017, the Matanel Prize by the World Union of Jewish Studies, for the best book in Jewish thought in the last three years.
  16. Benay Lappe is the President, Founder, and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1997, she also currently serves as Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Next Jewish Future, in Chicago. An award-winning educator specializing in the application of queer theory to Talmud study, her writings have appeared in Torah QueeriesLesbian Rabbis: The First Generation, and elsewhere. She has served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Temple University, American Jewish University, The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, The Graduate Theological Union’s Center for Jewish Studies at UC-Berkeley, and The Wexner Institute. Rabbi Lappe is a Joshua Venture Fellow, and a recipient of the 2016 Covenant Award for innovative Jewish education.
  17. Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University/Bloomington and Brownstone Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Professor Magid is a Kogod Senior Research Fellow at The Shalom Hartman Institute of America in NYC and rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue. His forthcoming books are *The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the Gospels* with The University of Pennsylvania Press and *Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism* with Academic Studies Press. He is presently working on an intellectual biography of Meir Kahane.
  18. Leonard A. Matanky has served as the Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy since 1996 and as the Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S. of West Rogers Park since 1995. A native Chicagoan and ICJA alum, he was ordained and received a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University. Rabbi Matanky is the co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, the co-Chair of the Rabbinic Action Committee of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Chair of the Kashruth Commission of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, the past president of the Rabbinical Council of America, and currently serves on numerous boards including, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Chicago Rabbinical Council, the Center for the Jewish Future of Yeshiva University, and the rabbinic advisories of World Bnei Akiva and the YU Torah MiTzion Kollel of Chicago. Rabbi Matanky is the assistant editor of the new RCA prayerbook “Avodat HaLev,” and editor of the Koren House of Mourning Prayerbook (January 2019).
  19. Yehudah Mirsky is associate professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Professor Mirsky studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshiva College and received rabbinic ordination in Jerusalem. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the law review, and completed his PhD in Religion at Harvard. He worked in Washington as an aide to then-Senators Bob Kerrey and Al Gore, and at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and served in the Clinton Administration as special advisor in the US State Department’s human rights bureau. From 2002-2012 he lived in Jerusalem and was a fellow at the Van Leer Institute and Jewish People Policy Institute and a grass-roots activis. He has written widely on politics, theology and culture for a number of publications including The New York Times, The New Republic and The Economist, The Daily Beast, and The Washington Post. After the attacks of September 11 he served as a volunteer chaplain for the Red Cross. He is a member of the board of Ha-Tenuah Ya-Yerushalmit, the movement for a pluralist and livable Jerusalem. He is the author of the widely-acclaimed volume, *Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution* (2014).
  20. Ezra Y. Schwartz is a Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, where he also serves as the Assistant Director of the RIETS Semikha program. He is also the rabbi of Mt. Sinai Jewish Center of Washington Heights, a dynamic and burgeoning community.
  21. Don Seeman is Associate Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at Emory University and is the Rabbi of the New Toco Shul in Atlanta. He holds a PhD in Social and Medical Anthropology from Harvard University. Don is the author of *One People, One Blood: Ethiopian-Israelis and the Return to Judaism* (2009) and is co-editor of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion series at Palgrave-Macmillan. He also publishes extensively in the areas of classical and modern Jewish thought, including Maimonides, Rav Kook, Levinas and Hasidism. His current book project is “Neighborhood Mystics: Modern Chabad and the Ethnography of Everyday Transcendence.”
  22. Lisa Septimus is the Yoetzet Halakhah of the Five Towns and Yoetzet Halakhah of Great Neck. A graduate of Stern College’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies, she subsequently served as the program’s shoelet u’meishiva.  She teaches Talmud at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, NY, where she also serves as director of Special Programs.  In her active role as rebbetzin at the Young Israel of North Woodmere (NY) she is integrally involved with adult education and youth programming.  She has taught at The Jewish Center in Manhattan, Riverdale Jewish Center, Drisha, and Yeshiva University’s Summer Learning Program.  She and her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Septimus, are the parents of four children.
  23. Barry Shrage is Professor of the Practice in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University. He is one of America’s foremost Jewish leaders and served for the past 30 years as president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and as a powerful voice on the American Jewish communal scene. He is known in Boston and throughout the world for his tireless support of Jewish education; his promotion of engagement by religious and nonreligious Jews; his commitment to working for social justice at home and abroad alongside others; his strong support of Israel; his bridge-building, outreach and engagement with the non-Jewish community in creative partnerships; and for his boundless energy and creativity. Following Shrage’s retirement from CJP in 2018, he joined the Hornstein Program as Professor of the Practice. At Hornstein, Shrage trains and mentors students in their future roles as Jewish professional leaders. He is working closely with the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, where he is developing and leading a new initiative on Jewish identity. The Initiative for Jewish Identity (IJI) will examine Jewish identity historically and in the contemporary context and build on that understanding to identify and support community programs that can produce large-scale measurable impact on Jewish engagement.
  24. Toba Spitzer has served as the rabbi of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek since she was ordained in 1997 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). Rabbi Spitzer is a popular teacher of courses on Judaism and economic justice, Reconstructionist Judaism, new approaches to thinking about God, and the practice of integrating Jewish spiritual and ethical teachings into daily life. She served as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association from 2007-2009, and was the first lesbian or gay rabbi to head a national rabbinic organization. She currently serves as President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Spitzer has been involved for many years in American Jewish efforts to help foster a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as work in the U.S. for economic and social justice. She  serves as Treasurer of Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, on the Advisory Board of J Street, and as co-chair of the Boston chapter of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet.
  25. Moshe Taub is the Director of Buffalo Vaad HaKashrus, and Rabbi of Young Israel of Holliswood / Holliswood Jewish Center. After receiving his 2003 ordination from Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey, Rabbi Taub became an Orthodox rabbi in Buffalo, where he also took over the helm at the BVK, the Buffalo Vaad HaKashrus. Soon, this local Kosher Council grew to a national level, focusing largely on the industrial side of the food industry. Rabbi Taub is now a rabbi in Queens and serves as well as the Rabbinic Editor and weekly columnist for Ami Magazine, an Orthodox international weekly magazine. He received this 2005 Rabbinic Leadership Award by the National Council of Young Israel.
  26. Ethan Tucker is President and Rosh Yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and chair in Jewish Law.  Ethan also directs Hadar’s Center for Jewish Law and Values.  Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a doctorate in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he serves on the board of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Ramaz School.  He is the author, along with Rabbi Micha’el Rosenberg, of *Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law* (2017).
  27. Devorah Zlochower is Dean of Yeshivat Maharat and faculty member of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and teaches gemara and halakhah at both institutions. Devorah served as Executive Editor of Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies at YCT Rabbinical School where she edited and translated halakhic responsa. She also edited a festschrift in honor of Blu Greenberg published by JOFA. Ms. Zlochower has taught gemara and halakhah for over two decades at various institutions including Drisha Institute where she served as Rosh Beit Midrash and Director of Full-time Studies for over a decade, Yeshivat Hadar and SAR High School. She lives in Riverdale with her husband, Rabbi Dov Linzer and their two sons.


Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif: Conflict, Culture, Law (28-29 November 2017) co-sponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program  Tuesday, November 28, 2017 12:00pm-6:00pm Harvard Law School 12:00pm Noah Feldman, Opening Remarks 12:30-2:15pm Session 1: History I Joseph Patrich, “From Restoration to Destruction: 600 years of the Second Jewish Temple Beatrice St. Laurent, “Unity in Diversity: Inclusiveness and Globalization in Early Islamic Jerusalem Reflected in the Dome of the Rock and the Haram al-Sharif (638-680)” Suleiman Mourad, “Al-Haram al-Sharif of Jerusalem in the Muslim Historical Consciousness” 2:30-3:15pm Keynote Address 1 Moshe Halbertal, “Sovereignty and the Sacred: Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif” 3:30pm-4:30pm Session 2: Religious Consciousness Robert O. Smith, “Christian Zionism, the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, and the Contemporary Theopolitics of Jerusalem” David Cook, “The Haram al-Sharif and Topographical Eschatology” 4:45pm-5:45pm Session 3: History II Jodi Magness, “Why is Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Sacred?” Jonathan Rubin, “From Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock to Templum Domini and Palatium Salomonis: The Temple Mount in the Frankish Period” Wednesday, November 29 9:00am-5:00pm 9:00am Noah Feldman, Opening Remarks 9:15am-11:00am Session 4: Activism Sarina Chen, “To Challenge and to Obey: The Double Role of Israeli Women in Temple Mount Activist Groups” Ali Abu Al-Awar, “Al-Aqsa Murabitat’s Accomplishments in the Political and Gender Levels” David Landes and Assaf Harel, “Freedom of Worship: The Use of Human Rights Discourse by Jewish Temple Mount Activists” 11:15am-12:00pm Keynote Address 2 Wasfi Kialani, “The Hashemite King’s Role and Status at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, 1917-2017” 1:00pm-2:30pm Session 5: Status Quo Yitzhak Reiter, “The Dynamics of Status Quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif” Omar M. Dajani, “’Touching the Holy’: How Palestinians Negotiated Jerusalem” 2:45pm-4:45pm Session 6: Representation Maymanah Farhat, “The Dome of the Rock in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Arab Art” Heather Coffey, “Sustaining Vectors of Sacrality in Images of the Prophet’s Ascension (Mi‘raj)” Pamela Berger, “The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Temple of Solomon” Maya Balakirsky Katz, “Scaling the Divide: Architectural Scale Models of the Jerusalem Temple” 4:45pm Noah Feldman, Closing Remarks


Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at HLS Inaugural Event Tuesday, November 8th 2016 at 4:00pm 4:00pm- Opening Remarks by Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School 4:15pm- “Nomos as Torah: Is there Jewish Law?” by Daniel Boyarin, Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley. 5:00pm- “Divining the Law: Jews and Greeks and the Search for Solid Ground” by Christine Hayes, Robert F. and Patricia R. Weis Professor of Religious Studies in Classical Judaica at Yale University. 6:00pm- Reception with Cocktail Interval and Hors d’Oeuvres in Milstein East A&B 7:00pm- A Conversation on “Jewish and Democratic/Democratic and Muslim: Israel and Tunisia in Perspective” featuring Ruth Gavison, Haim H. Cohn Professor emerita of Human Rights at the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Malika Zeghal, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life at Harvard University. Moderated by Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Program in Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School.