The Israel Matz Institute for Jewish Law at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, is located on Mount Scopus, in one of the original buildings of the Hebrew University, built in 1925. Since its inception in 1963, on the initiative of the then deputy to the President of the Israel Supreme Court, Prof. (emeritus) Menachem Elon, it is now occupies a leading place in the teaching and researching of Jewish Law. The Institute’s affiliation with both the Faculty of Law and the Institute of Jewish Studies reflects its founders’ goal of combining the research methods in Jewish Law with the classical methods of Jewish Studies. Over the past forty years, the Institute has made major contributions to academic research in the area of Jewish Law and is considered a leader in its field.
The Institute’s main achievements have been in four areas:
- It has trained a generation of first-rate scholars, now occupying key positions in Jewish Law research and instruction at universities all over the country.
- Books and studies have been published in a wide variety of topics, on a high level of academic excellence. These publications have, among other things, made the literature and sources of Jewish Law more readily available to teachers, students and legal personnel. A monumental undertaking in this area is the responsa index project, aimed at indexing responsa literature in the period of the rishonim (i.e., prior to the fifteenth century).
- The Institute publishes a Hebrew Annual of Jewish Law, Shenaton ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri, which is now firmly established as the premier publication in the field. The twenty-five volumes published hitherto present a diversity of studies by scholars of the first rank on classical and modern subjects of Jewish Law. Recently, the Institute was handed over the Jewish Law Annual (English), its future volumes will be published as a part of the Institute’s publications.
- The Institute’s library owns a unique, rich and varied collection of volumes in all areas of Halakhic literature, Jewish Law research and related subjects, now considered the most important library of its kind in this country and indeed in the whole world. Its services are at the disposal of students, scholars and jurists.
Recently, the Institute was honored when the Emet Prize 2011 was awarded to two of the senior researchers of the Institute, Prof. Eliav Shochetman and Prof. Berachyahu Lifshitz.