The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center, founded in 2001 as part of Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law, promotes the status of women in matters of family law and seeks to end gender discrimination and inequality in Israel. As an academic center working to promote legal and social change for women and bring gender justice to Israel, we are committed to Jewish values and the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
The Center serves as a nexus between research and activism, Israeli law and Jewish law, public advocacy and individual support, as well as legislation and litigation.
The Rackman Center implements a unique approach that combines knowledge and academic research with practical understanding of the legal system and policy development. Through its work, the Center has proudly achieved a series of legislative and social changes in family law for women in Israel. It has also successfully promoted the status of women in matters related to Jewish law. We at the Center remain committed to advocating for change within Jewish law by using the tools inherent to it, while also supporting external processes of change.
The Rackman Center works at two levels. At the individual level, the Rackman staff provides counseling and represents women in family law cases. At the broader societal level, the Center works closely with governmental agencies and organizations to promote policy and pave the way for legislative change. Our doors are open to anyone and everyone involved in this field: governmental agencies, family law professionals, students and women in need of the Center’s assistance.
The Center works closely with both local and international organizations, including the Hadassah Foundation, European Union, IACP (International Academy of Collaborative Professionals), Aluma Films, the U.S. Embassy in Israel, and more.
We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the founders of the Center who have made our work possible:to
The late Rabbi Emanuel Rackman was one of the most prominent contemporary Jewish leaders. As a modern Orthodox rabbi, he acted tirelessly to advocate for women’s rights and social justice.
Rabbi Rackman was known as being one of the greatest experts of our era in Jewish law and its ability to develop, evolve with the spirit of the time and serve as a moral force in resolving injustices. This philosophy was expressed in his books, Israel’s Emerging Constitution, One Man’s Judaism, and Modern Halacha for our Time, as well as his numerous essays. Over the years, he communicated regularly with other authorities on Jewish law to find solutions for the weak and needy.
Throughout his life, Rabbi Rackman’s work and achievements gained him widespread recognition and respect. Among the positions he held, he served as Rabbi of Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York City and Shaarey Tefila Congregation in Far Rockaway. Rabbi Rackman also taught Jewish law at City University of New York, New York Law School and Yeshiva College. He served as President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the New York Board of Rabbis and the Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces of the USA, President of Bar-Ilan University and later as Chancellor of the University, among numerous other positions.
He was a driving force behind the establishment of the private Beit Din (Jewish court) in the United States in 1996, which was dedicated to freeing agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant a divorce or who are missing and not proved dead). This was one of his many efforts that reflect his advocacy for the rights of women in Judaism and his tremendous contribution to promoting women’s rights in the Jewish world.
In 2000, Bar-Ilan University honored Rabbi Emanuel Rackman with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his leadership and immeasurable contribution to the development of the University. The following year, The Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women was established in recognition of his unwavering efforts to improve the status of women.
The Center strives to bring Rabbi Prof. Emanuel Rackman’s vision to life by improving the status and rights of women in Israel in matters of family law.
Board member – Professor of the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University, Academic Head of the International School at Bar-Ilan University. Researches domestic violence and coping with traumatic events.
Researches the complex combination of Jewish law and feminist thought. She is a highly sought-after speaker and active in the Orthodox Jewish feminist organization, Kolech. Dr. Irshai is also an academic advisor to the Gender Studies Program at Bar-Ilan University.
Dr. Regev-Messalem teaches and researches in the fields of Welfare Law, Law and Society, Law and Social Change, Empirical Legal Studies. In her research she focuses on poverty, elder care, gender equality, care work, and the role of the family in welfare states.
Adv. Matalon is one of Israel’s most senior attorneys in commercial law and serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the law firm, Gornitzky & Co. Adv. Matalon is active in a number of charitable organizations, serving as a member of the Executive Board of the Israel Cancer Association, Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Rabinovich Foundation, and as Chairman of the Friends of the Moran Choir.