One of the most important activities of The Jewish Legal Heritage Society is the sponsorship and organizing of international gatherings of scholars in the field of Jewish law and values. These conferences are attended by academics and others from such diverse fields as law, philosophy, Jewish studies, theology, ecology, and history. The JLHS regards such gatherings of persons from Israel and around the world as an effective and important way to promote the knowledge of Jewish law and what it has to offer to modern society.
The JLHS believes that these conferences have contributed towards meeting today's needs, both within the legal community and within the society-at-large. These two fundamental values - justice and law - continue to be the focus of the educational programs and conferences of the JLHS.
Conferences on the Sources of Contemporary Law have been arranged and organized by the JLHS, and co-sponsored by The Israel Bar, New York County Lawyers' Association, Tel Aviv University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and held under the auspices of the Israel Ministry of Justice.
The First International Conference:
Bible and Talmud and Their Contribution to Modern Legal Systems
The Second International Conference:
Maimonides as Codifer of Jewish Law
The Third International Conference:
Jerusalem — City of Law and Justice
The first Conference was held in Jerusalem in August 1983. This conference was organized with the itention of educating the international public on the Jewish sources of contemporary law.
This Conference dealt with a wide-range of topics. Lectures were given by lawyers, rabbis, academics and judges; lively discussions followed. Some of the topics dealt with include: The Kibbutz as a Legal Entity; Compromise; (The Church Fathers and Hebrew Political Thought;) The Influence of Religion Upon Law; The Ten Commandments in American Law; Maimonides' Views on Crime and Punishment; Coercion in Conjugal Relations; Self-Incrimination; and Medical Ethics.
In his opening remarks, the then Minister of Justice, Moshe Nissim, expressed the view that:
|The old can be combined with the new, and the ancient sources can serve us well in creating a healthy society based on Law and Justice. It is rewarding to see today in Jerusalem a gathering of those who have a common interest in widening their knowledge of the classical Jewish sources and in tying the rich heritage at our disposal even closer to modern legal dilemmas.|
The proceedings of this international conference have been published by the JLHS in a book entitled: Jewish Law and Current Legal Problems.
On the 850th anniversary of the birth of Maimonides, 1985 was declared “The Year of Maimonides.” On this occasion the Second International Conference on the Sources of Contemporary Law took place in August 1985 in Jerusalem in honor of the great scholar. This conference was attended by over 100 lawyers, judges, and scholars, representing a broad spectrum of faiths, who came from different countries to learn about the contribution of Maimonides to legal thought and to modern legal questions.
As the chairman of the Conference, Professor Nahum Rakover welcomed and addressed the gathering, which included the President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, the chief Rabbi of Jerusalem R. Shalom Messas, and a delegation from UNESCO, with the following words:
The Jewish people do not perpetuate the memory of their great sons in monuments of stone. They delve into the depth of their thinking: 'Their words are their memorial' (divreihem hem zichronam). This congress is meant to discuss, analyze and illuminate the figure of R. Moses ben Maimon who again and again has shed light on the problems that confront us to this very day.
Maimonides dealt in detail with the multi-faceted ways in which the Jewish people relate to justice and law. It was the aim of this Second International Conference to study his teachings in relation to contemporary legal and social problems.
This Conference dealt with a wide-range of topics
in which Maimonides has been influential, including: The
Codificatory Method and Jewish Legal Theory; Biblical Foundation
of Jewish Law; Meta-Ethics in the Theory of Morals of Maimonides;
Political and Legal Philosophy in the Guide for the Perplexed;
Criminal Responsibility and Mental Illness; Maimonides and
American Case Law; and the Comparative Study of Gratian and
The proceedings of this international conference have been published by the JLHS in a book entitled: Maimonides as Codifer of Jewish Law.
During “The Year of Maimonides” numerous lectures were given throughout Israel under the auspices of the JLHS, and a book was published with the title Maimonides and the Law in Israel (in Hebrew).
This Conference, held in Jerusalem July 8 - 12, 1996, took place at the time when Jerusalem was celebrating her three thousandth year as the spiritual, historical, and cultural capital of the Jewish people.
Jewish law, the foundations of which are rooted in the Bible, has served as a source of inspiration for the world's lawmakers of past and present alike. The aim of this Third International Conference on the Sources of Contemporary Law was to underscore the themes of law and justice and their special link to the values and ideals that Jerusalem symbolizes. The Conference gathered together lawyers, judges, rabbis, theologians, law professors and scholars from varying fields to reflect upon the contribution of those values to a wide range of topics from human rights and constitutional law, to environmental conservation and medical ethics. The influence of biblical values in general upon various legal cultures and systems were also a prominent part of the Conference.
His Excellency President Ezer Weizman was invited and other prominent leaders of Israeli society was in attendance additionally contributing to this important Conference.
This Conference covered the broad range of fields where Jewish law has been influential. Scholars presented lectures on the following topics:
The Supremacy of Law: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms; Dignity of Man; Equality; Liberty; Peace as an Overriding Value; Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State; The Rule of Law; Noahide Duty to Establish a Legal System; Courts and the Role of Judges; Religion and State; Jewish Law and Democracy; Freedom of Speech and Expression; Privacy and Personal Integrity; Role of the Judge in Conducting the Trial and the Power to Compel Compromise; Peaceful Settlement of Disputes; Religious Tolerance and Diversity; Patient's Rights; “Ten [Environmental] Regulations for Jerusalem;” Jewish Values in Environmental Conservation; Tobacco Use and Exposure to Health Risks; Man's Right to Exploit Natural Resources.
The proceedings of this conference have been published with the title: Jerusalem — City of Law and Justice.