Visiting Gruss Professor in Talmudic Civil Law

Caroline Zelaznik Gruss and Joseph S. Gruss Visiting Professor in Talmudic Civil Law


Ruth Calderon

Dr. Ruth Calderon is one of Israel’s leading figures in the effort to revive Hebrew culture and sustain a pluralistic Israeli-Jewish identity and was elected to the Israeli Knesset in January 2013. She became a national celebrity when she taught a page of Talmud in the Israeli parliament, arguing that the text was the heritage of the entire Jewish people. She is founder and former director of the Elul Beit Midrash in Jerusalem (the first secular yeshiva in the world) and founder and chair of Alma: Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv.  After eighteen years as director of Alma, Ruth was appointed head of the culture and education department at the National Library of Israel. She also hosted a TV program, Ha-Heder, on which she invited guests to study Jewish texts with her.

Dr. Calderon is the author of A Bride for One Night (2001, English translation 2014), a homiletic reading of Talmudic legends that develops seventeen passages from the Talmud into stories, many of which gave voice to women ordinarily silenced by the text. ( and Talmudic Alpha Beta (2014).

2018 – 2019

Moshe Halbertal

Moshe Halbertal is the Gruss Professor at NYU Law School and a Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University. He received his PhD from Hebrew University in 1989, and from 1988 to 1991 he was a fellow at the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He is the author of many books, including Idolatry (co-authored with Avishai Margalit, 1992) and People of the Book: Canon, Meaning, and Authority (1997), both published by Harvard University Press; Concealment and Revelation: Esotericism in Jewish Tradition and Its Philosophical Implications (2007), On Sacrifice (2012), and Maimonides: Life and Thought (2013), all published by Princeton University Press; and several books published in Hebrew, including Interpretative Revolutions in the Making (1997) and By Way of Truth: Nahmanides and the Creation of Tradition (2000). His latest book (co-authored with Stephen Holmes) The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel was published by Princeton University Press in 2017. Halbertal was named a member of Israel’s Academy for the Sciences and the Humanities.

2017 – 2018

Ayelet Hoffman Libson

Ayelet Hoffmann Libson is a scholar of Talmud and Jewish law, specializing in rabbinic law, the relationship between law and religion, and the history of Jewish law. An Assistant Professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she is also a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Professor Libson received a B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. She was selected as an inaugural fellow for the Israel Democracy Institute’s Program on Judaism and Human Rights and has also won several other fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Lady Davis Foundation, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. She has also pursued advanced graduate study in Talmud and Jewish Law at the MaTaN Advanced Talmud Institute and at the Beit Morasha Program in Jewish Law, both in Jerusalem.

Professor Libson teaches courses on rabbinic literature, the history of Jewish Law, and the intersection between religion and human rights. Her publications have appeared in several journals such as American Journal of Legal History and Oxford Journal of Law and Religion and she is the author of Law and Self-Knowledge in the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2018)