Harvard Law School announced on Tuesday that it would establish a program in Jewish and Israeli law, funded by a gift from hedge fund manager Mitchell Julis.
The mission of the program, to be known as the Julis-Rabinowitz Program, will be "to explore the structure and real-world effects of Jewish and Israeli law," according to a statement from the law school.
The program will be directed by Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor and public intellectual in the United States. Feldman has extensively studied and written about the relationship between law and religion in Islam, Judaism, and U.S. law. He speaks Hebrew and Arabic and earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern studies.
"With the resources of the program, we hope over time to make Harvard Law School into a national and international leader in the study and analysis of Jewish and Israeli law from a broad array of scholarly perspectives," Feldman said.
Julis graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude in 1981. The program is named in honor of his father and mother, Maurice Ralph Julis and Thelma Rabinowitz Julis, and their families.
"My parents, grandparents and relatives made sure that the rich heritage of Judaism, including its values and history, and the importance of Israel, both to the Jewish people and the world, were consistent parts of our spiritual and intellectual growth," Julis said.
"This gift to Harvard Law School is in deep gratitude and love for the gift of heritage our families gave us and which we have strived to give to our children."
Law school Dean Martha Minow thanked the Julis family for creating "significant new opportunities for our community to explore this living legal tradition as well as the laws and legal discourse of a nation, which shares the same roots and many new branches."
The program will appoint visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows, conduct courses for students with advanced knowledge of traditional Jewish legal texts, host an annual conference and organize lectures at Harvard and other universities.
The announcement of the Harvard program follows the September launch of a similar center for Islamic law at Yale University, according to the Tablet website. The Yale program was made possible by a $10 million gift from Saudi banker Abdallah S. Kamel.