Martin J. Hertz Lecture in Jewish Law and Culture: How Concepts of Jewish Peoplehood Inform Legal Rulings.
Disputes surrounding the nature of conversion to Judaism are at the center of some of the most contentious legal debates taking place in modern Jewish jurisprudence. In this lecture, diverse rulings issued by Orthodox rabbis on matters related to conversion will be presented and analyzed. In so doing, it will be shown that these decisions do not simply present Jewish legal judgment in an instant case, Rather, these holdings are policy stances that rabbis are advancing in order to define membership in the Jewish people in an era where intermarriage is common and where the borders of the Jewish community are often porous and indeterminate. It will argued that way in which each individual rabbinic decisor views the notion of Jewish peoplehood serves as an independent and often decisive variable in informing the decisions that rabbis issue in these cases.
Rabbi David Ellenson
Rabbi Ellenson is the President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought. He is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history.
Response: Burton Lehman, Esq.
He is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His latest book, “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Convertion, Law and Policymaking in 19th and 20 th Century Orthodox Reponsa”, co-authored with Daniel Gordis, was published by Stanford University Press in 2012.
Mr. Lehman is Of Counsel to Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, a prominent New York law firm of which he is a founder. His legal practice has been concentrated in the corporate and real estate transactional fields.
Free and open to the public.
Mr. Lehman was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from 1996 – 2006 and currently serves on that Board. He is a member of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board and the Board of Visitors of Columbia Law School and has been actively involved in many other not-for-profit organizations. Mr. Lehman, a graduate of Columbia Law School, has been a student of the development of Jewish law, from the Talmud through the progression of codes and commentaries to more modern legal writings.
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The Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer's Work aims to help practicing lawyers and law students in their efforts to live integrated lives of faith in the context of the challenges of legal practice, and to promote dialogue on issues related to religion and law. It sponsors national and local inter-faith conferences, lectures and programs on religion, spirituality and legal practice.