The Center for Jewish and Democratic Law

The Center for Jewish and Democratic Law (CJDL) is a major focal point for fresh thinking on shaping law and society in Israel to reflect both the Jewish and democratic character of the state, taking into account the range of meanings these concepts have to different groups. To facilitate this process, the Center serves as a platform for dialogue between Jewish and democratic viewpoints within Israeli society and Israeli law.

The CJDL is a natural outgrowth of Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law’s commitment to the Jewish and democratic character of Israel, and its dedication to pursuing dialogue from a pluralistic perspective, seeing intrinsic value in multiple viewpoints, identities, and approaches to research and theory.

The Center is supported by a diverse network of philanthropists: Mr. and Mrs. Moshael J. and Zehava Straus – United States; Mr. Mick Davis – England; The Paamei Tikvah Fund, Dr. Shai Weil, Dr. Lipa Meir, Mr. Ephraim Kriel – Israel. Our supporters do not suffice with financial donations. They are a dedicated group of active community leaders, deeply involved in activities of the Center, and are members of its public steering committee. We acknowledge our partnership with the Israeli Congress on Judaism and Democracy, headed by Haim Taib, which represents a new chapter in shared discourse and social agreement in Israel.

The Center operates a growing menu of programs designed to advance research, education, and public discourse touching upon the dual Jewish and Democratic character of Israel, and always with an eye towards resolving the dilemmas this duality presents. Core programs include: The Multi-disciplinary Research Seminar on Judaism and Democracy, which will focus on “inclusion and exclusion in matters of religion and state” in 2019-20; the Annual International Conference on Jewish and Democratic Law, with the most recent conference on the topic of “Communities in Law;” and the Public Forum, which will focus next year on the Knesset, in honor of the Israeli parliament’s 70th anniversary.

In 2018 we initiated a new High-School Education & Leadership Program designed to deepening students’ knowledge of Israel’s character and its legal-constitutional basis, foster cross-cultural dialogue collaboration among peers, and provide unmediated study-based encounters among different educational streams. The program will be expanded in 2019 to include minority populations, especially the Arab sector, under the experienced guiding hand of Prof. Manal Totry-Jubran, one of the Faculty of Law’s most prominent lecturers.

A major focus of the Center is promoting shared discourse and social consensus in Israeli society. The latest in these efforts was our collaboration with the Haim Taib’s Israeli Congress of Judaism and Democracy, the first of which was held in February 2018. Some 700 people attended the congress, a cross-section of the different faces of Israeli society.

Also of note is the planned Unit for Practice and Policy, whose mission is to use research-based knowledge to inform and impact litigation, legislation, regulation, and the social climate in Israel and the Diaspora. The Unit should begin operations in 2019.