In an age of ever-growing religious diversity, the United States is confronting a host of complex questions regarding conflicts between religion and government—what is typically described in terms of the relationship between church and state. The goals of this course are two-fold; (1) first, to understand how First Amendment principles of both religious liberty and non-establishment govern the relationship between church and state and (2) second, to consider how the Jewish community, as a paradigmatic religious minority, should engage in ongoing debates about the evolving relationship between church and state.
- Court cases including Reynolds v. United States (1879), Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), and Bob Jones University v. United States (1983)
Meet the Instructor
Michael A. Helfand
Dr. Michael (Avi) Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty. A frequent author and lecturer, his work considers how the state treats religious law, custom, and practice. He is currently an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and co-director of Pepperdine University’s Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies. He received his JD from Yale Law School and his PhD in Political Science from Yale University.
His academic articles have appeared in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York University Law Review, and Duke Law Journal. Professor Helfand also often provides commentary on clashes between law and religion, writing for various general audience publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Forward, and has provided legal commentary for various news outlets, including the New York Times, PBS, and Huffington Post.
In addition to his academic work, Professor Helfand is an executive board member of the Beth Din of America, where he also serves as a consultant on the enforceability of rabbinical arbitration agreements and awards in U.S. courts.
Kate Havard Rozansky