Dr. Rachel Furst

Dr. Rachel Furst is a research fellow and adjunct lecturer in medieval Jewish history and Jewish law at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Her work focuses on Jewish law-in-practice and Jewish-Christian relations in medieval Europe, as well as on the history of women and gender. She received her Ph.D. from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015. She has taught and lectured widely in Europe, Israel, and the United States and currently resides with her husband and daughters in Munich, Germany.

Judaism has been called a religion of law, and the system known as halakhah did indeed govern religious and communal life for most Jews in pre-modern times. But what exactly is halakhah and how does it relate to other legal systems? When did formal codes of Jewish law develop, and why? What is the significance of rabbinic correspondence regarding specific cases and situations? This course will survey the development of Jewish law from the Bible to the State of Israel, with an emphasis on the historical and cultural circumstances that gave rise to different forms of halakhic literature and to major innovations in Jewish practice and Jewish thought.