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Jewish Law: From the Ancient Near East to the Israeli Supreme Court

This course will survey the primary genres and methods of Jewish legal writing and legal decision-making from the Bible through the rabbinic and medieval period to the modern period. In discussing Jewish legal history, the course will focus particularly on the relationship of Jewish law to non-Jewish legal systems, issues of legal competition when Jews had access to non-Jewish venues, and the role of legal pluralism and indeterminacy in Jewish legal decision-making. The course will also discuss the complicated role of Jewish law in the State of Israel with respect to Jewish-Arab relations as well as the role of religious pluralism among Jewish communities within Israel. The role of Jewish law in contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities will also be addressed, particularly as these communities address modern social issues such as abortion, women's rights, and homosexuality.