Avishalom Westreich
Avishalom Westreich
October - November 2017

Avishalom Westreich is a Senior Lecturer (equivalent to Associate Professor in the American system) at the Law School of the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, Israel, and a Research Fellow at the Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. In Fall 2016, he was a Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University. He holds degrees in Hermeneutic Studies (M.A. Summa Cum Laude), Law (LL.B.), Talmud (B.A.), and Jewish History (B.A. Summa Cum Laude), and completed his PhD at Bar-Ilan University in the President's Program for Outstanding Doctoral Candidates (2007).

Avishalom's research deals primarily with the dramatic changes in the family during the second half of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries and the ways in which Jewish law decisors face new kinds of dilemmas. Accordingly, he examines the changes in the structure of the Jewish family as reflected in the agunah problem, and explores this problem’s main civil and religious aspects. He examines how Jewish law decisors engage in metalegal deliberations on family concepts (such as fatherhood, motherhood, and parenthood), how they interact with civil law, and, accompanying all, how they discuss, from a formal halakhic viewpoint, the role of Jewish law in changing social, legal, and cultural environments. During his time at the Petrie-Flom Center, he is researching issues surrounding gestational surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive technologies.

The topic of Dr. Westreich's dissertation is "Hermeneutics and Developments in the Talmudic Theory of Torts as Reflected in Extraordinary Cases of Exception" (Hebrew; 2007). His later publications include No Fault Divorce in the Jewish Tradition (Hebrew; 2014) and Talmud-Based Solutions to the Problem of the Agunah (2012).