Religious freedom is one of America’s founding ideals. And yet Americans have long debated the religious liberties of individuals and institutions. What should the law do when church and state collide? These issues, which remain pressing to all faith communities, have been of particular importance to American Jews who, as a religious minority, have long benefited from the First Amendment’s freedoms. In this seminar course, we will explore how First Amendment principles of religious liberty govern the relationship between church and state. Then we will consider how the Jewish community, as a paradigmatic religious minority, has and should continue to engage in ongoing religious liberty debates.
Dr. 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’s commentary has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Forward. 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.
Meet the Instructor
Tikvah aims to make all of our courses available to as many qualified students as possible. In the event that Tikvah needs to add additional sections, this course may be taught by a different faculty member with a similarly high level of expertise.