The University of California, Berkeley School of Law has launched an institute devoted to Jewish and Israeli studies.

The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society is financed by a $750,000 grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and will expand the university’s existing studies of Israel and Jewish Law.

The institute brings together 15 faculty members from multiple academic areas, including law, political science, economics, history, sociology and Jewish studies.

“These are fast-emerging fields in higher education,” Dean Christopher Edley said in a written statement. “The Gilbert Foundation’s generous gift allows us to bolster existing Jewish and Israel programming on campus with the added perspective of legal scholarship, and to better compete with comparable offerings at our peer universities.”

The law school already has a foundation in religious law, Edley noted. It houses the Robbins Religious Law Collection — a library recognized as one of the best in the fields of religious and civil law. Berkeley publishes the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law.

The institute will house two distinct programs: the Jewish Law program and the Israeli Law, Economy and Society program. In addition to supporting research and new programming, the institute is expected to offer courses in Israeli history and constitutional law and host a campus-wide conference on Israel as a “high-tech nation.”

“We’re working to support broader discourse on campus around Jewish and Israel-related scholarship,” said institute faculty director Kenneth Bamberger. “We want to better serve UC students interested in studying these topics in-depth. Our programming will be truly interdisciplinary in scope and scholarship.”
 
Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.