Ruth Calderon

b. 1961

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Ruth Calderon until we are able to commission a full entry.

Ruth Calderon in 2007. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As a Talmud scholar and a member of the progressive Israeli political party Yesh Atid, Ruth Calderon has sought to break down the traditional divide in Israeli society between right-wing Orthodoxy and secular liberalism. The daughter of a Sephardic father and an Ashkenazic mother, Calderon attended public school and graduated from the University of Haifa before earning a PhD in Talmud from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1989 she founded a secular, egalitarian, pluralistic beit midrash in Jerusalem, and in 1996 established ALMA: A Home for Jewish Culture in Tel Aviv, which offered secular Israelis an entry point to Jewish scholarship. She also hosted a TV program, Ha-Heder, on which she invited guests to study Jewish texts with her. She served one term in the Israeli Knesset as a member of the Yesh Atid party from 2013 to 2015, and her first speech to the Knesset went viral as both secular and religious Israelis delighted in her interweaving of her life story, her political aims, and a close reading of Talmudic text. In 2014 her book A Bride for One Night was translated into English. The book, first published in 2001, developed seventeen passages from the Talmud into stories, many of which gave voice to women ordinarily silenced by the text. Calderon was a visiting professor of Talmudic Law at Harvard Law School for the 2019-2020 academic year and received an honorary doctorate from Brandeis University in 2020. In 2021 she published A Rainy Day Story, a children’s book recounting the tale of Rabbi Hanina. Calderon was featured in Secularism—Religion and State, an Israeli miniseries released in July 2023. 



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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Calderon." (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <>.