Gruss Lecture in Talmudic Law with Professor Shahar Lifshitz: Lecture One: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Jewish Divorce Law"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:30pm
Silverman Hall, Bernard Segal Moot Court Room (S245A), 3501 Sansom St.

The 2014 Caroline Zelaznik Gruss and Joseph S. Gruss Lectures in Talmudic Civil Law: The Struggle over Jewish Marriage and Divorce Law

Lecture I: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Jewish Divorce Law

Presented by Shahar Lifshitz, Dean of Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University, Co- Director of The Human Rights and Judaism Project of The Israel Democratic Institute, & Gruss Professor of Talmudic Civil Law at Penn Law

Dean Shahar Lifshitz will deliver the first part of his lecture series titled, The Struggle for Gender Equality in Jewish Divorce Law, on Tuesday, September 9 at 5:30 PM in the Bernard Segal Moot Court Room (S245A).  A reception will follow in the Levy Conference Room (S245).  Dietary laws will be observed.

Lecture I Description:

“A man who wishes to divorce his wife is not like a woman who seeks divorce from her husband. A woman is divorced with her consent or without it. A man cannot divorce his wife except of his own free will.” Mishnah, Yevamot 14:1

The unequal starting point for husband and wife in divorce is enshrined in this Mishnah, which gave rise to the plight of agunot (literally, “chained women”), whose husbands have vanished or are mentally incapable of granting them a religious divorce, and of mesoravot get, women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get (a religious bill of divorce). Professor Lifshitz’s first Gruss Lecture will surveyvarious techniques that have emerged since the Talmudic era to alleviate the plight of mesoravot get within the framework of halakha. Using historical, sociological, and jurisprudential methods, he will analyze the limited success of these attempts and offer a fresh perspective on the current discourse.

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz is the dean of Bar-Illan University Law School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, where he co-directs the project on Human Rights in Judaism. His research fields are family Law and contract Law.  Prof. Lifshitz was a visiting scholar and Berkowitz Fellow at New York University Law School in 2005-2006, a Visiting Professor of Law and Distinguished Fellow of Jewish Law and Interdisciplinary Studies at Cardozo Law School in 2006-2007 and spring 2009, and a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School in fall 2009. Together with Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Benish, Prof. Lifshitz co-chairs the Forum for Cooperation between the Israeli Supreme Court and Israeli Legal Academia.

Professor Lifshitz’s books include The Spousal Registry (Israel Institute of Democracy, 2007) and Cohabitation Law in Israel from the Perspective of a Civil Law Theory of the Family (Haifa University Press, 2005) for which he was awarded the Bahat Prize.  Prof. Lifshitz’s recent articles include The Pluralistic Vision of Marriage, in Marriage at Crossroads, Elizabeth Scott & Marsha Garrison eds., (Cambridge Press 2012); The Liberal Transformation of Spousal Law: Past, Present and Future,Theoretical Inquiries in Law (2011);  Behind the Veil of Legal Uncertainty, Law & Contemporary Problems (2011) Political-Liberal Multiculturalism as a Remedy for the Religion and State Relations in Israel, The Hebrew University Law Journal (2010); Bargaining in the Shadow of the Mediator: A Communitarian Theory of Post-Mediation Contracts,  Ohio St. J. on Dispute Resolution (2010);   and Married Against Their Will? Toward a Pluralist Regulation of Spousal Relationships, Washington and Lee Law Review, (2009).  

This program has been approved for one hour of substantive law credit for Pennsylvania lawyers and may be likewise approved for other jurisdictions. For CLE credit please bring a check in the amount of $30 made out to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.


Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Lecture II: “Civil Unions for All”: A Remedy for the Predicament of Israeli Marriage Law

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 5:30 PM


To register for this year’s Gruss Lectures, please click here.

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