Vol. 17



Vol. 17 July 2014





A Springboard to Private Practice… with a Little Help from the Faculty

The Faculty of Law runs a variety of practical workshops as part of its ongoing effort to help students bridge the gap between theory and practice. Students learn to cope with real cases form the world of law and to understand the importance of small details. 


The Institute for Jewish Law Celebrates Its Fiftieth Anniversary

Dr. Benny Porat, the director of the Faculty’s Institute for Jewish Law, believes that this field still has much to offer. As it marks its fiftieth anniversary, the Institute is more active than ever. It sponsors two well-regarded journals, holds conferences with a unique atmosphere of their own, maintains postgraduate degree programs, and provides an extensive library for students, researchers, and legal experts. And it still has time to plan for the future.



Aspiring Higher

It isn’t easy to be an Arab student at the Faculty of Law. Language difficulties and the need to adapt to a different culture present unique challenges for Arab students during and after their studies. A special forum called Aspirations, established 12 years ago, works with Arab students from their first week at the Faculty.




Short meetings with faculty students




Guest Lecturer: Louis Moreno Ocampo

A report on the visit to the Faculty by the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Editor: Ronen Polliack
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law - All Rights Reserved

Aspiring Higher

Aspiring Higher


It isn’t easy to be an Arab student at the Faculty of Law. Language difficulties and the need to adapt to a different culture present unique challenges for Arab students during and after their studies. A special forum called Aspirations, established 12 years ago, works with Arab students from their first week at the Faculty.


Renana Herman


Aspirations is an apolitical student forum established in 2002 on the initiative of Arab students and alumni of the Faculty of Law. “We don’t have any hidden interests,” emphasizes Mohannad Salaymeh, the chairperson of the forum, who is himself a student at the Faculty. “We work on an entirely voluntary basis to influence and change things in order to help the other students.”


Muhannad, what is the basic idea behind the forum?
The forum was founded 12 years ago on the initiative of Arab students at the Faculty who realized that the average grades of most of the Arab students were low relative to their earlier achievements as outstanding students in high school. Arab students also found it difficult to integrate in the social life of the Faculty. The Aspirations forum was founded in order to help improve their academic achievements, encourage excellence, an integrate them in the academic and social life of the Faculty.


What are the main difficulties that face Arab students when they arrive at the Faculty?
The main problem is language. For most Arab students, legal jargon is a “fourth language,” because it is a very elevated form of Hebrew. This also explains the gap between the achievements of Arab law students compared to the achievements of Arab students in other faculties. They also face difficulties in other fields, but legal language presents a particularly serious problem. The Jewish students also find this hard, but it is even more difficult for the Arabs.


Another factor is that Arab students come to the Faculty at a very young age, straight after high school (whereas their Jewish peers have usually performed several years of military service). This is the first time they leave home and begin a new life in a new city. While adapting to studies they also have to cope for the first time in their life with living on their own away from their parents. 


A third difficulty is the critical thinking demanded as part of the studies at the Faculty. The study method used at the Faculty requires students to think outside the box – a skill that most Arab students have not yet acquired. At high school they were usually expected to learn set material by rote before examinations and not to think independently.

There are also cultural difficulties, of course. Most of the Arab students find it difficult to adapt to a culture that is strange to them, and this can lead to social problems and isolation. 



Meeting for the Arab first-year students with first year students


Is the long-term goal to create a cohesive and separate group or to encourage integration?
Our goal is to encourage the students to integrate in Faculty life and in the student union activities. However, in order to realize this goal it is important to build the group of Arab students internally in the hope that this will lead to external integration. We run various activities to this end. For example, over the past few years we have developed a tradition of running an annual trip outside the Faculty. The goal is to encourage the students from different years to get to know each other and to meet attorneys who have already completed their studies at the Faculty. This experience helps consolidate the group and encourages an important support network that can help them in future to find their place in the legal job market.

What other activities does the Forum organize?
We work in two spheres. In the social sphere we organize outings and visits. Last year, for example, we visited the Supreme Court and met with Justice Salim Joubran. In the academic sphere we focus mainly on the first-year students. Every year we hold a traditional meeting for the Arab first-year students to welcome them to the Faculty. We provide them with information about the Aspirations forum and reassure them as they deal with the inevitable pressure of studies during their first week. At the end of the meeting we provide a mentor for each student, and in most cases this really helps them as they begin their life at the Faculty. The encounter also gives them a chance to start to get to know the other Arab students, so it is also very useful from the social angle.


We run training sessions in Arabic, particularly for the first-year compulsory courses. This year we again held our annual training program in constitutional law, contract law, and the theory of law. The sessions are taught by various members of the forum, some of whom are experienced students and others young attorneys who graduated from the Faculty.


The forum also holds four evening programs a year when guests from outside the Faculty are invited to discuss a particular legal theme. The goal is to encourage the students to engage in critical thinking and to expand their knowledge of new fields that are not studied at the Faculty. The guests at the evening programs include leading figures from the world of law and the students respond very enthusiastically. Recently, for example, we invited Dr. Rifat Azam from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and Attorney Jawad Boulos. Professor Michael Karayanni and Professor Ahmad Natour, who are both lecturers at the Faculty, have also been guests at the programs. Once we even went to the Old City to visit the home of Professor Nadera Shalhoub, another Faculty member.


We have our own journal, which is also called Aspirations. The journal appears once a year in Hebrew, and the goal is to encourage Arab students to write articles at a high legal standard and express their opinions on various legal issues. This helps them to develop and improve their legal language and writing skills.


When necessary, the forum also represents Arab students in contacts with the Faculty. For example, ahead of the festivals we secure exemptions for students to avoid attendance problems. I want to emphasize that the Faculty is very supportive and helpful. This is my fourth year in the forum, so I’ve had a chance to work with two deans – Professor Barak Medina in the past, and now Professor Yuval Shany. Both of them have always been supportive and encouraging. They welcome every initiative we suggest and provide financial and moral support. I think this is one of the main reasons why the forum is still functioning.



Annual trip outside the Faculty


Can you recall any special success stories?
I’ll tell you about a very recent success story. This year we decided to focus in particular on helping Arab students in their third year of studies when they have to find an internship position. Every year Arab students find it difficult to secure an internship, and experience shows that in the past most of them were unable to find a place through the placement system run by the Faculty. This year we decided to take action to change the situation. We arranged a meeting between the students and Professor Yoav Dotan, who is the Faculty member responsible for the placement fair. We also organized a special internship panel for Arab students only. Ten young Arab attorneys and interns came to the event, most of whom are themselves graduates of the Faculty who are working in various legal fields. Each one discussed his own experiences and answered questions from the potential interns. For me the panel stands out as a particularly successful event. We helped the students to prepare for the process, so they were more self-confident when they came to the interviews and they focused on appropriate legal fields. They also underwent training in how to speak during the interviews themselves. In the end the vast majority of the students found an internship in a place where they wanted to work, including some very prestigious areas of the legal field. The Aspirations forum was one of the reasons for this success.



Salaymeh emphasizes that the existence of the forum should not be taken for granted. The forum comprises seven student members and two attorneys who are Faculty graduates. All the members work on a voluntary basis and give willingly of their free time. They are all very creative and enjoy the opportunity to engage in social action and to contribute to the field. The ongoing existence of the forum is particularly impressive since there is no external body that ensures its continued operation. For the past 12 years the forum has proved the good will and faith of its members, and this in itself is surely proof that it makes an important contribution to the Arab students at the Faculty.


Meeting with Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran

A Springboard to Private Practice… with a Little Help from the Faculty

A Springboard to Private Practice… with a Little Help from the Faculty


The Faculty of Law runs a variety of practical workshops as part of its ongoing effort to help students bridge the gap between theory and practice. Students learn to cope with real cases form the world of law and to understand the importance of small details. 


Zohar Drookman


Theory is only one side of law studies; many students today are interested in more practical studies. With this in mind, the Faculty has launched an initiative to encourage students to participate in courses of a more practical nature, as part of a broader effort to ensure that its graduates are as well prepared as possible for their entry into the world of practice.


This approach is reflected in practical workshops in diverse fields taught by senior attorneys from some of Israel’s leading law firms. The students enjoy an opportunity to become better acquainted with the complex issues encountered in the world of legal practice in areas in which they have a particular interest. The workshops enable the students to learn from the work of experienced attorneys, thereby helping them to bridge the inevitable gap between theory and practice. One of the most popular workshops among the students is the workshop in administrative law in the practical context, taught by attorneys from Agmon & Co. law firm. “Almost all the attorneys in our firm studied at the Hebrew University,” reveals Attorney Ayelet Golomb-Planer, a managing partner in the firm. “We are very fond of the Hebrew University and many of us are interested in teaching. That’s why we were pleased to run the workshop.”


Agmon law firm was established by Dr. Mishael Cheshin after he left the State Attorney’s Office and before he was appointed to the Supreme Court. “Cheshin had served as head of the Supreme Court Petitions Department, and he made a real effort to develop the field of administrative law in the firm. That’s why it’s only natural for us to run a workshop in this field,” Attorney Golomb-Planer explains.



Attorney Ayelet Golomb-Planer

How did the idea emerge?
We are Friends of the Faculty, and as a Jerusalem law firm we see this status as both an honor and a duty. We asked Professor Yoav Dotan how we could help and he suggested that we run a workshop. We were only too happy to take him up on his offer.


What is special about your workshop?
We address administrative law in practical life from various perspectives. Each partner who runs the workshop adds his or her own angle. Many of the partners had things they wanted to say and were eager to do so – all because of this shared love for the Faculty.


What’s the difference between your workshop and “regular studies?”
Our workshops include two key elements. Firstly, the lesson is chock full of examples from real life and we teach the subject by examining cases we have handled. In this way we show how theory meets practice – when the two complement each other, and when they don’t. The second element are the exercises. These aren’t standard academic exercises, but ones that attempt to challenge the students to cope with the same dilemmas we encounter in the practical domain.


What are your expectations of the students in the workshop?
First of all – to show an interest. Secondly – to raise doubts: to listen to us all and to try to ask some difficult questions. To see where we got it wrong and to cope with complicated issues. If possible, we also hope they will be involved in real life and bring questions for us to consider.


Is this is a preparatory course for practical legal work? 
My law studies didn’t prepare me for legal practice and the studies didn’t even claim to do that. I don’t expect graduates to know how to be attorneys the minute they arrive in my firm. The students should arrive with a good understanding of the law; all the rest happens in the firm. In the final analysis, being a good legal expert is about a way of thinking, a recognition that the world is complex, and analytical capability. For example, when I say something I need to be aware who said the same thing before me, how they phrase it, and how I diagnose it. The students acquire these tools at the Faculty, and these are very important skills.


Is there anything that you don’t manage to teach?
The Faculty doesn’t claim to teach students how to persuade others, but how to engage in objective and neutral thought. Neither does it teach them how to cope with officials and bureaucracy. This is an important part of work, particularly in the field of administrative law. It’s important that legal education should be very broad based so that graduates can then go on to learn a profession. The main thing is that students are equipped with legal thinking – that’s the most important thing the Faculty can do to prepare them for the world of practice.


Bridging the Gap


Another workshop that has gained popularity with the students is the workshop on mergers and acquisitions, which is taught by partners from Meitar law firm. “This is a very important field of work in our firm,” explains Attorney Dan Shamgar, a partner in the firm who runs the workshop. “We are one of the leading law firms in Israel in this field and we have worked on several of the most important deals made in Israel.”


Why do you teach the workshop?
There are several reasons. Firstly, the field of mergers and acquisitions is one that I am very well acquainted with in terms of practical experience. This is a very challenging field, and a fascinating one for attorneys who have a business orientation. The young guys I see who have just finished university have acquired a basic infrastructure of law studies, but there is a relatively wide gap between the way law is studied in academia and the way it is implemented in real life. This is true in many fields, of course, but in this particular field I felt that we could bridge this gap and give the students some kind of exposure to the field. By ensuring that they have a deeper understanding, they can move into the world of practice with better skills and start off from a more advanced point.


What is the reason for this gap?
This field is based on practice that has been built up over the years in Israel; very little of this is reflected in case law. Accordingly, it is only natural that the usual academic approach cannot really reflect this area. The gap is very significant. On the one hand we have rich, sophisticated, and very progressive practice in legal terms, with a strongly creative and innovative character. On the other, there isn’t a sufficiently strong approach of ensuring access to the real world so that the students can be exposed to this field.”


How do the students react to this gap?
They are fascinated by it. You take a group of students who are interested in this field – many of them are studying in a joint track with business management. And you can develop dialogue based on a similar worldview.


What do you actually teach in the workshop?
I offer the students a comprehensive review of each of the types of transactions encountered in the market. For each type of transaction, I work together with the students to formulate the logic that lies behind the business structure: the way it helps to realize the parties’ interests. I also expose them to everyday cases that raise all kinds of questions and challenges that we had to solve using the legal tools at our disposal. In the second part of the workshop I change tack a little and we begin to analyze specific transaction documents and to review all the paperwork. This study helps us put into practice the ideas we studied in the first part.


What was your impression of the students you taught?
I thought the students were very impressive and cooperative. These weren’t short encounters – each session lasted three hours. But despite this they listened attentively throughout the session and they helped me to create an atmosphere of discussion rather than a frontal lecture. I really enjoyed working with the students. I think my goal was to ensure that at the end of the workshop they felt that had enjoyed an interesting intellectual experience that had sparked their curiosity. My impression is that this is exactly what happened.



Attorney Dan Shamgar

Guest Lecturer: Louis Moreno Ocampo

Guest Lecturer: Louis Moreno Ocampo

A report on the visit to the Faculty by the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court


Hagai Carmi

Photos: D. Guthrie


Louis Moreno Ocampo, the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), is no stranger to criticism. At a lecture given by Ocampo in May at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, a member of the audience asked whether he agrees that the ICC focuses excessively on Africa. Ocampo’s reply made it obvious that this was not the first time he has been asked this question. “I’ve heard that claim on several occasions. People wonder why we only investigate things that happen in Africa and claim that this is just a new form of imperialism. It always surprises me that they focus on the activities of the ICC, instead of asking why there is so much violence in Africa.” A question regarding the small number of cases heard by the ICC also provokes a ready-made response: “You can’t measure everything just in terms of the number of people prosecuted. The main function of the ICC is not to prosecute people, but to play an active role in creating law and defining laws. As I see it, success should be measured in terms of the definition of clear boundaries for what is permitted and prohibited, rather than in terms of the prosecution of some specific number of war criminals.”


The Early Years of the International Criminal Court
Ocampo was invited to Israel as the guest of the Faculty and the Fried-Gal Transitional Justice Initiative, which supports projects under the auspices of the Transitional Justice Program of the Law Faculty and the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University. He gave two lectures during his visit. In the first, entitled “The Challenge of the Early Years in the ICC,” Ocampo described the developments in international law from the Nuremberg trials through the prosecution of the heads of the Argentinian junta, and on to the establishment of the ICC. He argues that the Nuremberg trials had a tremendous influence on the formation of the ICC, since they marked the first time that the possibility was discussed of imposing personal criminal liability as a means of creating a deterrence against crimes and an incentive to keep the peace. The option of criminal prosecution complemented the only two options that had previously been available – going to war or refraining from taking any action.


In the early 1990s, after several decades of stalemate due to the Cold War, criminal law once again became a key player in international law with the formation of the tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The growing strength of international criminal law led to the drafting of the Rome Statute in July 1998 and to the establishment of a permanent international criminal court – the ICC – in 2002. Ocampo was appointed Prosecutor of the ICC in April 2003 and was forced to confront the difficulties inherent in entering a new position: “When I assumed the position of Prosecutor, the ICC building in The Hague had six empty floors and 18 judges waiting for some work. I had three employees available to assist me, a handful of historical precedents – Nuremberg and the international tribunals – and the provisions of the Rome Statute. Meanwhile, outside in the real world, America was attacking Iraq and President Bush declared that he would not agree to the ratification of the Statute due to concern at possible suits. The international organizations were also suspicious and questioned the capability of the ICC. At this point I had to decide what to do first: consult with others? Establish the court’s infrastructure? Or maybe launch a prosecution – and if so, of whom?” Five months after entering the position, Ocampo announced that he had acquiesced to a request by the Congo to open an investigation into crimes committed in its territory. The investigation ultimately led to the trial of the militia leader Thomas Lubanga – the first trial undertaken by the ICC.


Ocampo returned to the subject of the trial of Lubanga in response to a question about the role of victims and their relatives in the legal process. He explained to the audience that the evidence collected in the investigation did not suggest that Lubanga was a central figure in the crimes; his importance was only apparent from the victims’ testimonies. He later admitted that the ability of the ICC to help the victims is limited due to the formal character of the court. A conviction may help victims sue for compensation, but a more comprehensive response to their needs requires intervention by additional bodies. A member of the audience asked Ocampo whether he found it difficult to cope with the traumatic images and stories that form part of his work. He replied that the problem he faced is of a different nature: “The victims I meet are grateful for the attention they receive and appreciate people coming specially to hear their stories. It is not the encounter with the victims that is difficult, but rather the encounter with the world outside the court. It is difficult when I visit New York and face the hypocrisy and insensitivity of those in power. I was told several times during official meetings with ambassadors and senior dignitaries that I am too emotional and that I shouldn’t take things to heart.”


Ocampo and the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Yuval Shany
(Photos by D Guthrie)


Lecture at the Fried-Gal Colloquium on Transitional Justice
“Transitional justice” was the central theme of Ocampo’s second lecture, given the day after his first speech. The lecture formed part of the Fried-Gal Colloquium on Transitional Justice, moderated by Visiting Professor Ruti Teitel, and focused on transitional justice in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ocampo was serving as the Prosecutor of the ICC at the beginning of 2009 when the Palestinian Authority asked the court to recognize its jurisdiction over incidents in the Palestinian Territories. Three years later his office issued a statement declaring that the request had been rejected. The statement explained that the Palestinian Authority’s status as an independent state remains unclear, and accordingly it cannot assume permanent or ad hoc judicial authority. Following this decision, the Palestinian Authority appealed to the United Nations to be admitted as a member state, and in November 2012 the General Assembly approved the recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a “non-member observer state” by a large majority. In his lecture Ocampo considered what has changed following this recognition. Although he did not state so explicitly, it was clear from his comments that Ocampo believes that the current conditions permit the Palestinian Authority to turn to the ICC: “There are two facts that cannot be ignored. Firstly, the International Criminal Court exists; and secondly, the Palestinian Authority has received the status of an observer state. As future Israeli attorneys, I ask you: what do we do with this? What would you recommend to Israel in such a situation? I don’t necessarily have a good answer to this question, but I hope to encourage you to think seriously about it. Your goal is to put some good options on the table, and in order to do that you first of all have to imagine what the Palestinians are going to do, and then you have to prepare some options according to that scenario.” At this point Ocampo turned to the students in the hall and asked them whether they thought it would be a good move for the Palestinians to turn to the ICC. After hearing several opinions, he offered an optimistic summary: “Although many people in Israel see an appeal to the ICC as a negative development, you should note that the ideal scenario for the Palestinian side also puts Israel in a pretty good position. Accepting the Palestinian Authority’s request and recognizing the ICC’s jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories will very probably lead to pressure to halt violence by Palestinians, since once the ICC enjoys jurisdiction, it is empowered to investigate any violations committed by either side in the conflict. Reducing the level of violence in the framework of the appeal to the ICC is undoubtedly of value to Israel.”




Ocampo and Visiting Professor Ruti Teitel at the Fried-Gal Colloquium on Transitional Justice 
(Photos by D Guthrie)


Louis Moreno Ocampo was born in Buenos Aires in 1952 and completed his studies at the Faculty of Law in the University of Buenos Aires in 1980. He gained fame as the assistant prosecutor in the “trial of the juntas” pursued several years later and went on to become chief prosecutor of the Buenos Aires federal circuit. Before his appointment as Prosecutor of the ICC, Ocampo established his own law firm and continued to be active in the field of criminal and human rights law. In 2012, after nine years in the position, he retired in order to return to private practice. He also lectures regularly at several universities, including Yale in the US, and serves as an advisor to international non-governmental organizations


Ocampo’s period of office as a prosecutor in Argentina shaped his attitude toward an academic filed that was beginning to receive increasing attention at the time: the field of transitional justice. “My encounter with transitional justice did not come through academic research,” he emphasizes, “but through the reality of Argentina in the 1980s, when kidnapping and guerilla warfare were a routine occurrence. I remember that in one indictment I wrote, “the state is forbidden to torture its citizens.” Although this sounds obvious to us today, that sentence became a newspaper headline. The status quo is not always consistent with legal ideals, and in Argentina the gap was particularly wide.”"


(Photos by D Guthrie)



Renana Herman


Name: Tamar Ventura


Age: 24


Year: 1


The facts: Tamar is a gifted musician who devotes time to her singing alongside her law studies. Before applying for university she hoped to combine law and music studies, only to find that this combination does not exist. She is currently focusing solely on her law studies but is considering combining these with another professional field next year.



Why law? “Law is a very broad field that expands your horizons,” Tamar explains. “I think it’s a good combination between a practical vocation and an interesting academic field. I imagine that I will want to work in some public field after I complete my studies, and a law degree seems suited to that kind of position. I had several role models in the legal field. My sister is a law student who is currently studying for her master’s degree and really loves the field. Many of my friends and commanders in the army have also chosen this path. Personally I am still checking things out and getting to know this world. I can see some similarities between the fields of music and law. In law we learn to examine every issue from different angles and perspectives. The same is true in music – when we interpret a song, we illuminate it in a different way, changing the genre or combining it with another song that changes its context. In a broader sense, the two fields are also similar since they both ultimately seek to make people feel good.”


A second hearing: Tamar has been singing and playing the piano since she was very young. For the past three years she has been a member of an a cappella ensemble she helped to found. The women-only group is called Makeupella and it performs without musical instruments. The members of the group meet for a weekly rehearsal and perform at various events. Last year Tamar took a six-month break in order to travel to the Far East (“Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, and India”) before beginning her studies.



Name: Maytal shaya spivak


Age: 23


Year: 2


The facts: Maytal is studying for a combined degree in law and Jewish Studies. This extra-legal course is similar to a general BA program, but focuses exclusively on departments related to Jewish Studies: Bible, Talmud, Jewish Philosophy, Jewish History, Yiddish, and so forth. Maytal began her studies in the first year by combining law and economics but later decided that she was better suited to the humanities.




Why law? “When I was very young I wanted to be a judge,” Maytal recalls. “The robe appealed to me and somehow the curly wig, too. It always seemed to be a very dignified job due to the need to decide and determine matters. The television show Ally McBeal also helped attract me to the legal profession. The areas that I find most interesting are criminal law and family law, but my combination with Jewish Studies may ultimately lead me to the area of Jewish law.”


A second hearing: Maytal is a student at the university’s Chevruta Jewish study program, which provides a stipend in return for daily studies of the Talmud and Gemara. She is also active in the “Senate Minyan” – a group that is promoting egalitarian prayer services at the university. Contrary to the usual Orthodox practice, this framework enables women to play an integral part in the service and even to lead the prayers. Maytal notes that the group has expanded considerably this year and has attracted many students, both men and women. Maytal was also one of the founders of the “Yerushalmiot” (Jerusalem Women) forum at the university. This is a Feminist student cell that runs panels and other activities on campus in order to raise awareness of women’s rights. “Apart from the panels and activities I organized,” she adds, “I felt that establishing this group was a really important step forward at the university. I’m glad I was a partner in founding and shaping the group.”



Name: Chen Deri


Age: 23


Year: 3


The facts: Chen is combining her law studies with a humanities program. Her program includes study sections in cognition and in the philosophy of science. She has also embarked on a fast track to a master’s degree, meaning that she should complete her master’s within four years. “I began by focusing on cognition but I realized that I am less interested in research work,” she explains. “I am fascinated by the philosophical side of the subject, which also relates to the world of law.”



Why law? “Legal knowledge gives us more tools for understanding the ‘game.’ You can see this in everyday life – there are all sorts of mundane situation in life that are much easier to understand if you have legal knowledge. I feel that law is also a good way to influence the way we live as a society and the way we define our public domain. I chose a combined program because I believe that in order to be successful in the field of action or in academia you need to be firmly rooted in reality, on the one hand, and to be interdisciplinary, on the other. In other words it is important to be involved in several areas simultaneously and not to shut yourself off in a bubble. I hope to continue in the academic world after completing my current degrees because I love this field and believe in a combination of academia and practice. You don’t suddenly become wise the moment you complete a degree – you have to keep on studying and developing yourself all the time.”



An additional hearing: Chen is constantly involved in social action and a wide range of activities. For two years she volunteered as a member of the Audit Committee of the Law Student Association. Together with the other committee members, she inspected the union’s work in order to make sure that it was consistent with its constitution. She is also a member of the Clinic for the Social Capital Market, supervised by Professor Hamdani, which also embodies the combination of the commercial and social worlds through social business projects. Chen works in the Claims and Outsourcing Department of the State Attorney’s Office. This is a relatively unknown unit (“but a cool one that I really recommend”) that initiates legal claims on the state’s behalf. Examples of the unit’s work include a claim submitted against the Dead Sea Works and the clearing of beaches and areas of land. Chen reports that the unit is a good place for an intern and deserves greater recognition in this context. When she has a little time on her hands she enjoys working as a wine taster at festivals around Israel for Ramat Hagolan Wineries. As for her next move: next year she will begin an internship at Fischer, Behar, Chen & Co. Good luck to her!




Name: Tzlil hudady


Age: 24


Year: 3


The facts: Tzlil is combining her law studies with a teaching certificate in civics. She explains that “civics studies are related to legal themes such as constitutional law, so this track is particularly suited to law students.” She adds that she is the only student in her year who has chosen this combination; four students in previous years studied the two subject.



Why law? “I used to think I was going to study architecture, but after I returned from a trek in South America I decided to opt for law. The main reason was that this is an area that combines many different fields, such as medicine (medical negligence) or patents (intellectual property) or any other field where you can find a legal niche. I chose to include teaching studies after reaching a turning point at the end of my first year of law studies. Someone came into the classroom at the end of a lesson and told us about the teaching certificate track. I remembered my rich experience in teaching and my love for the profession and I decided to combine the two areas. There’s a good chance that in the end I will be an attorney rather than a teacher, but I’m still glad for the chance to gain experience in another area. It can’t do any harm.”


An additional hearing: “This year I am working in the Clinic for the Rights of People with Disabilities. My team was given a file of a person with a hearing disability who can hear normally thanks to a hearing aid. This person has submitted numerous resumes in an effort to find work in a large company, but so far he has not been accepted. We are preparing a statement of claim in which the main argument is of discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of disability. Over the past few years I have also volunteered in the Jerusalem Methadone Center on behalf of the Breira Center. This facility provides methadone as a substitute for drugs. The people who come there used to be addicted to hard drugs and even now they cannot completely free themselves from drugs. The center gives them methadone as an alternative in a fixed dose and for a limited period. Naturally these people tend to deal with a lot of bureaucratic and legal problems. So we come to the center and they can consult with us on legal issues. The main problems we encountered involved debts and the executor’s office. I came as a volunteer without any background in the field, but during the course of my work I began to learn more about the subject.”

The Institute for Jewish Law Celebrates Its Fiftieth Anniversary

The Institute for Jewish Law Celebrates Its Fiftieth Anniversary


Dr. Benny Porat, the director of the Faculty’s Institute for Jewish Law, believes that this field still has much to offer. As it marks its fiftieth anniversary, the Institute is more active than ever. It sponsors two well-regarded journals, holds conferences with a unique atmosphere of their own, maintains postgraduate degree programs, and provides an extensive library for students, researchers, and legal experts. And it still has time to plan for the future.


Renana Herman


The Israel Matz Institute for Jewish Law this year celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The Institute was established in 1963 by Supreme Court Deputy President Menachem Elon z”l, and is now headed by Dr. Benny Porat. To mark the jubilee celebrations we asked Dr. Porat a few questions about the Institute.


Dr. Porat, could you tell us what the Institute for Jewish Law actually does?
This is the leading institute in its field and the only one in Israel that meets international standards. It serves as a center for research into Jewish law. A generation of leading Jewish law scholars grew up in the Institute and the most important studies were written under its auspices.


The Institute’s overriding goal, of course, was to promote research into Jewish law. It’s important to remember that the Hebrew University offered law studies before the Faculty of Law was even established. The two core legal fields on which the Faculty was based when it was established in 1949 were Jewish law and international law. Accordingly, it was only natural that the Faculty would become a flagship for research and teaching in the field of Jewish law. This is indeed what transpired, and the Institute has served as the main tool to this end.


Today the Institute is undergoing a changing of the guards. A generation of lecturers and scholars has retired or is about to retire. The last faculty member from the generation of the “founding fathers” is Professor Berachyahu Lifshitz. Nevertheless, we naturally continue to welcome the ongoing work of retired faculty members who continue to be active in the Institute. We are striving to build the new generation. I am one of those involved, and next year we will be joined by Professor David Flatto, who has moved to Israel from the US in order to join us here at the Institute. Professor Flatto will also be teaching a course and a seminar here next year. We are looking forward to welcoming him to the Institute and hope to continue to expand our ranks.


We’ve heard about the Tzova Conferences that have been held in recent years. What happens at these gatherings?
The Institute initiated the Tzova Conferences several years ago. The conferences address various aspects relating to Jewish law and are held as a cooperative venture of the Faculties of Law at the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and Bar Ilan University. These conferences differ from regular academic gatherings in two respects. The first is their demographic profile. Each conference focuses on the interface between Jewish law and another field and seeks to bring together Jewish law scholars and scholars from another field of general law. The next conference, for example, will be devoted to the subject of Jewish Law and Contract Law. We hope to bring together leading general scholars in the field and Jewish law scholars and to see what happens when they sit at one table and try to illuminate the general field with specifically Jewish law insights.


Another unique feature of the conference, as befits the field of Jewish law, is that the deliberations focus on study of the primary sources of Jewish law. A significant portion of the conference follows the Beit Midrash (“House of Study”) style: The participants sit down to study texts in small groups, including issues from the Talmud, from Maimonides, and from other Jewish law sources. Alongside frontal lectures, the conference also includes a section when the participants study and prepare for the lectures. This ensures that the participants are better prepared for the lecture and have already had a chance to form their own opinions, so that they can challenge or support particular arguments.


What other activities does the Institute provide?
We invest heavily in the field of research into Jewish law. The Institute publishes books and research projects, including two journals. The Jewish Law Yearbook is our longstanding journal and this year marked its fortieth anniversary. The Yearbook is one of the leading journals in the field of Jewish law and appears annually, which is a relatively high frequency in this field. It is devoted to the field of Jewish law in the broadest sense, including both the classical areas of this field and related areas of Jewish studies – research into the Talmud, Jewish philosophy, and history, insofar as these areas relate to Jewish law. We also strive to provide a platform for Faculty students who write outstanding papers, theses, or doctorates and to publish these works in the Yearbook. We also recently assumed responsibility for the publication of the international English-language Jewish Law Annual.


An additional field the Institute nurtures is that of postgraduate degrees in Jewish law. Two years ago we revived our master’s degree program in Jewish law, and we have been pleased to see that this is a very attractive and successful program. We currently have between 10 and 12 students in the program and we hope to expand it still further over the coming years.


The library is another important feature of the Institute. Our library houses a uniquely rich and diverse collection relating to all aspects of Halachic literature, research into Jewish law, and ancillary literature. It is the most important library in its field in Israel and is also unique on the international level. Students, researchers, and legal experts all enjoy the library’s services.


Can you share any interesting news from behind the scenes at the Institute?
This isn’t one of our most recent activities, but one of the Institute’s most important activities several decades ago was the response index project. The Jewish response constitute a tremendous literary genre whose wealth and diversity are almost unimaginable. When we began the project there was no way to grapple with the endless ocean of material in this field. Professor Menachem Elon initiated the response index project, in whose framework numerous researchers reviewed the literature item by item and classified them according to source, historical context, and legal questions. The project’s outcome appeared in several volumes that allow anyone who wishes to do so to research this literature by a given topic or source and quickly to find what they are looking for.


In an ironic twist of fate, two other researchers also embarked on a project to develop a response project at the same time. Their project, which was adopted by Bar Ilan University, followed a similar technology but employed digital media. Their project has been extremely successful. Our own project was a tremendous initiative based on a great vision, but it relied on hard human graft rather than technology. With hindsight we lost out, and the public now credits the scholars from Bar Ilan for the success of the response project.


In closing, a question that will interest many readers who do not come from the field of Jewish law. Do you believe that study of Jewish law is still relevant today, despite the fact that no legal system follows this school? Is it important to promote and develop this field?
That’s the million dollar question! I’ll try to tell you in a nutshell how I look at this issue and why I believe that Jewish law is still important. Firstly, if we examine Israeli law from the proper perspective, we will find that Jewish law has exerted a much stronger influence that most people tend to imagine. Jewish law has had a decisive impact on Israeli law, and if we removed the Jewish phrases and institutions from the latter we would be left with a partial and inadequate system. Countless phrases and terms in Israeli law are drawn from the language of Jewish law. These include the usual terms used today for unjust enrichment and for bankruptcy. Various issues in Israeli law, such as the imprisonment of debtors, have been influenced linguistically or substantively by Jewish law.

In addition, Jewish law functions as the “other.” It offers legal experts a chance to think outside the box and consider other options. These options may not always be suitable for implementation and absorption, but they are thought provoking and challenge accepted axioms and concepts. Jewish law is a friend that has accompanied Israeli law since its inception. Sometimes we listen to its advice and sometimes we reject its position – but it is always there, accompanying and adding greater depth to Israeli law.


Students in the library of the Institute for Jewish Law