Ruth Gavison

A legal scholar who has grappled with civil rights and privacy laws for decades, Ruth Gavison continues to confront the legal paradox of Israel being simultaneously a Jewish state and a democratic one. Gavison graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1969, earned her law degree there in 1971 after clerking with Israeli Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Halevi, and went on to earn a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University in 1975. In 1974 she helped found the Israeli Association for Civil Rights and served multiple terms as its chair and president. Although she has taught for brief stints at Yale, Princeton, and NYU law schools, she has been the Haim Cohn Professor of Human Rights at Hebrew University since 1984. She helped draft Israel’s 1981 privacy law and has worked for decades with Israeli lawmakers on balancing the needs of the religious right, secular Jews, and Palestinians in terms of immigration, conversion, and civil rights. In 2004 she co-wrote the Gavison-Medan Foundation for a New Covenant among Jews in Matters of Religion and the State of Israel, and in 2013 the Minister of Justice asked her to craft a constitutional amendment to navigate Jewish and democratic values. Among her many honors, Gavison was awarded the Israel Prize in 2011.

Topics: Israel, Law

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A founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, member of the Israel Democracy Institute and an advocate of human rights, Ruth Gavison is keenly aware of the internal conflicts of the Jewish State. In an effort to diffuse one of these tensions, Gavison collaborated with an Orthodox rabbi to formulate a "Covenant," a new social contract to govern communal interaction between religiously observant and non-observant citizens of Israel.

Institution: Ruth Gavison.

Date of Birth


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Gavison." (Viewed on June 17, 2021) <>.


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