About The Jewish Legal Heritage Society

Goals & Guidelines

The goal of The Jewish Legal Heritage Society is to promote the understanding of Jewish law and its contribution to modern society.

Prof. Nahum Rakover lecturing about "Using Biblical Sources for Modern Issues" at the Faculty of Theology, Fulda (Germany)

From Biblical times to the present, Jewish law has been a vital and dynamic force in the cultural and moral development of the Jewish people and society. This is true not only in Israel itself, but throughout the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Jewish legal tradition has and continues to play an important role throughout the world. Today, its unique evolution, its continued refinement, and its unsurpassed sensitivity to the values of justice and morality have resulted in it having a significant role in modern jurisprudence throughout the world, and has had profound influence on most all legal systems of the world, from ancient times until today.

In the Jewish people's quest to fashion a humanistic Israeli policy rooted in the fundamental values and principles of our Jewish cultural heritage, the Jewish legal tradition plays a pivotal role.

The Jewish Legal Heritage Society (JLHS) is dedicated to building a modern democratic society guided by the rich traditions of Jewish law. We believe that the only way of meeting this challenge is by working toward this goal within a contemporary pluralistic framework. We believe that the treasures of the Jewish legal tradition are the shared heritage of the entire Jewish nation, and as such, it is a primary goal of The Jewish Legal Heritage Society to acquaint and educate the broadest possible audience.

In its efforts to introduce Jewish law to the public, The Jewish Legal Heritage Society devotes special attention to those areas of law which relate to moral and cultural values. Once the law of the entire Jewish people, Jewish law has reemerged to play a formative role in the Israeli legal system. Not surprisingly, since the inception of Israeli law it has founded numerous legal precedents originating in Jewish legal tradition. Similarly, on numerous occasions, the Knesset has adopted both the terminology and substance of Jewish law in its legislation. For example, the Bailees Law, the Copyright Law, and the Criminal Registration Law are each patterned after Jewish law in its traditional formulation.

Dov Shilansky
The speaker of the Knesset, M.K. Dov Shilansky, awarding Prof. Nahum Rakover for his book "Jewish Law in the Debates on the Knesset"

In 1980, the connection between Jewish law and the law of the modern State of Israel was mandated with the passage of the Foundations of Law Act. The enactment of this statute was a major change in the Israeli legal system, which ended the formal dependence of Israeli law upon English law, and stipulated that wherever prior Israeli law offers no solution to a particular legal question at issue, the court is directed to render the decision on the basis of the “principles of freedom, justice, equity, and peace in the Jewish tradition.” The JLHS has contributed to putting this Act into practice with its various educational activities.

The Jewish Legal Heritage Society's activities encompass the various segments of the Jewish community, and it is our belief that the Jewish legal heritage can serve as a powerful instrument for uniting all the Jewish people. As the former president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, has stated, the dynamic nature of Jewish law to develop and adapt to change is “testimony to the vitality and spiritual virtuosity of a people dedicated to the ideal of moral excellence” and that “the greater our reliance upon Jewish law, the finer and richer the legal system of Israel will be, and the more deeply we shall be rooted in the great Jewish values of justice, morality, and the supreme value of human dignity.”

At the opening of an international conference at the Presidential Residence. In the center: the late Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shalom Messas; On the right: two participants from Turkey.


The activities of The Jewish Legal Heritage Society extend to many corners of the Jewish world. Since 1980 the activities and programs of The Jewish Legal Heritage Society have brought knowledge of the valuable contribution of Jewish law and legal values to thousands of persons. This has been accomplished by means of supporting Jewish legal scholarship and its various books published, seminars for judges and lawyers, educational programs in secondary schools, and international conferences attended by leading scholars in the field. The work of the JLHS, much of it taken in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Justice and The Israel Bar, may be divided into the following general categories: courses/seminars/ workshops, international conferences, books and teaching materials, and research.

© The Jewish Legal Heritage Society

POB 7483
Jerusalem 91074
Tel. 972-2-6247041

About us | Conferences | Seminars | Library | Contact us
אודותינו | פרסומים | פרסומים חדשים | המשפט העברי בחקיקה | המשפט העברי בפסיקה | השתלמויות | צור קשר