Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Political Science and Jewish Studies, University of Florida

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1999
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Near & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Washington
Courting the Court: Social Visions, State Authority, and the Religious Law Conflict in Israel

After thirty-nine years of uneasy coexistence between the Israeli state's civil and religious legal systems, in 1987 the High Court of Justice (HCJ) began to challenge state rabbinical authorities in a conflict so heated that, by 1995, the President of the High Court began to receive death threats as editorials and letters in Orthodox newspapers called him a traitor to his people. Before 1987, the HCJ tried only once to challenge rabbinical authorities; the legislature overturned the HCJ’s decision in law within three weeks. If the HCJ had been unable to challenge religious authority before, why was it able to do so in a protracted conflict beginning· in 1987? My tentative hypothesis is that the main impetus lies in an implicit alliance that emerged between the HCJ and increasingly politicized social groups who mobilized around issues of religious vs. secular law in the 1980s.