Shalem College
Ruth Gavison

Prof. Ruth Gavison

D.Phil. in Legal Philosophy, Oxford University
LL.M. (summa cum laude), Hebrew University
B.A. in Philosophy and Economics, Hebrew University
LL.B. (cum laude), Hebrew University

One of Israel’s leading intellectuals, Professor Ruth Gavison is a 2011 Israel Prize for Legal Research laureate and author of numerous books and articles on judicial activism, constitutional thought, human rights, and religion in the public sphere. For more than two decades, Prof. Gavison has been a leading voice for the defense of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, even as her research explores the challenges that result from such a definition. Much of her work focuses on strengthening Israel’s Jewish identity and on bridging the secular-religious divide.

Prof. Gavison has been appointed to several governmental committees, including the Winograd Committee, which investigated the lessons of the Second Lebanon War. A founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Prof. Gavison is also the founding president of the Metzilah Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought. An emeritus law professor at the Hebrew University, she has taught in the law schools of Yale University and the University of Southern California.

Full CV

Selected Publications


Foundations for a New Covenant on State and Religion Issues in Israel, with Ya’acov Medan (Jerusalem: 2003). [Hebrew]

Judicial Activism — For and Against: The Role of the Supreme Court in Israeli Society, with M. Kremnitzer and Y. Dotan (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2000). [Hebrew]

The Jewish-Arab Rift in Israel, with Issam Abu Riyya (Jerusalem: Israel Democracy Institute, 1999). [Hebrew]

Israel: A Jewish and Democratic State (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1999). [Hebrew]

Constitutional Revolution: Reality or Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? (Jerusalem: Israel Democracy Institute, 1998). [Hebrew]

Human Rights in Israel (Tel Aviv: Defense Department, 1995). [Hebrew]

Discretion in Law Enforcement: The Power of the Attorney General to Stay and Renew Criminal Proceedings (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Press, 1991). [Hebrew]

(Edited) Issues in Contemporary Legal Philosophy: The Influence of H.L.A. Hart (Oxford: Oxford, 1986).


"Immigration and the Human Rights Discourse: The Universality of Human Rights and the Relevance of States and Numbers," Israel Law Review (2010).

"Law, Adjudication, Human Rights and Society," Israel Law Review 40 (2007), pp. 31-55.

"Legislatures and the Quest for a Constitution: The Case of Israel," Review of Constitutional Studies 11 (2) (2006), pp. 345-400.

"Constitutions and Political Reconstruction? Israel's Quest for a Constitution," International Sociology 18 (1) (2003), pp. 55-73. ‏

"Does Equality Require Integration: A Case Study," Democratic Culture 3 (2000), pp. 37-88.

"The Role of Courts in Rifted Democracies," Israel Law Review 33 (1999).

"Jewish and Democratic?  A Rejoinder to the Ethnic Democracy debate," Israel Studies 4 (1) (1999), pp. 44-72.

"The Role of Courts in Rifted Democracies," Israel Law Review 33 (1999), pp. 216-258.  

"Holmes' Heritage: Living Greatly in the Law," B.U.L. Review 78 (1998), pp. 843-883.

"Feminism and the Private-Public Distinction," Stanford Law Review (1992).

"Too Early for a Requiem: Warren and Brandeis Were Right about Privacy vs. Free Speech," S. Carolina Law Review 43 (1992), pp. 437-471.

"Feminism and the Private-Public Distinction," Stanford Law Review 45 (1992), pp. 1-45.

"Legal Theory and the Role of Rules," Harvard J. Law and Public Policy 14 (1991), pp. 727-770.

"The Implications of Jurisprudential Theories for Judicial Election, Selection and Accountability," U.S.C.L. Review 61 (1988), pp. 2701‑2746.

"Custom in Law Enforcement: The Power of the Attorney General to Stay Criminal Proceedings," Israel Law Review 21 (1986), pp. 333‑357.

"The Controversy Over Israel's Bill of Rights," I.Y.H.R. 15 (1985), pp. 113‑154.

"Privacy and the Limits of Law," Yale Law Journal 89 (1980), pp. 421‑471. Reprinted in Philosophical Dimensions of Privacy: An Anthology, F.D. Schoeman, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 346‑402.

"Privacy and the Limits of Law," Yale Law Journal 89 (3) (Jan 1980).

"Days of Worship and Days of Rest: The Case of Israel," Religion in the Public Sphere, W. Brugger, and M. Karayanni, eds. (Berlin: Springer, 2007), pp. 379-414.

"Legislatures and the Phases and Components of Constitutionalism," The Least Examined Branch: The Role of Legislatures in the Constitutional State, Bauman, and Kahana, eds. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006).

"What Belongs in a Constitution?" Constitutions, Markets and the Law, Stefan Voigt, and Hans Wagener, eds. (Cheltenham: Elgar, 2002), pp. 1-25. Slightly abridged version republished in CPE (Constitutional Political Economy) 13 (2002), pp. 89-105.

"Legal Systems and Public Attitudes During Negotiations Towards Transitions from Conflict to Reconciliation: The Middle East, 1992-1994", The Arab-Israeli Accords: Legal Perspectives, Eugene Cotran, and Chibli Mallat, eds. (Kluwer Law International, 1996), chapter 2, pp. 21-44.

"Information Control: Availability and Exclusion," Public and Private in Social Life, S.I. Benn, and G.F. Gaus, eds. (Croom Helm 1983), chapter 5, pp. 113‑134.