New Institute to Expand Jewish and Israel Studies

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law has launched a new institute to expand and diversify Jewish and Israel studies on campus. The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society is an interdisciplinary initiative that reflects both a flourishing of Jewish legal studies in U.S. law schools and a national surge in the academic study of Israel.

Funded by a $750,000 seed gift from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, the institute is guided by 15 faculty members from across campus in diverse disciplines including economics, business, political science, history, sociology, and Jewish studies.

The institute will run two distinct programs – one on Jewish Law, the other on Israeli Law, Economy and Society:

  • The Jewish Law program will broaden the resources available for Jewish legal study through programming, research support, and classes. It will augment the number of Jewish studies offerings for graduate and undergraduate students and sponsor major program-related campus events.
  • The Israeli Law, Economy and Society program will work with other campus units and professors to achieve key objectives: foster faculty and student research, expand curricular offerings, host speakers and symposia, and expand collaborations with Israeli universities and academics.

The institute’s activities began this semester. Going forward, the faculty will introduce additional courses in Israeli history and constitutional law, expand Jewish Law offerings to undergraduates, and host its first annual campus-wide conference on Israel as a high-tech nation.

UC Berkeley’s merger last fall with the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, and the construction of the Magnes’s state-of-the-art center in downtown Berkeley, will further foster synergies between academic units across campus.

A formal launch event for the Institute is planned for April 6, 2011.