A new, six-session course on the Talmud, Jewish ethics, 
and the United States Criminal Justice System


Criminal justice policy affects the safety and peace of mind of all citizens, and has broad implications for crime victims, the accused, the convicted, and their families. While an essential issue for all of society, it is particularly relevant for law enforcement, attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals working within the criminal justice system in pursuit of justice and equal protection under the law.

With a growing consensus on both sides of the ideological divide that the United States requires criminal justice reform—either because the current system is unjust, inequitable, and ineffective; or simply because it’s too expensive to taxpayers—Crime and Consequence is particularly timely.

While there are many valid approaches to studying criminal justice reform, a footnote in the landmark Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona highlights one important approach. Miranda is famous for establishing that criminal suspects have a constitutional right to be informed of their right to be silent, their right to have an attorney present, and that any statement made may be used against them. What is less known is that the court, in discussing the roots of the privilege against self-incrimination, cited a passage from the thirteenth-century Talmudist Maimonides and a Talmudic law article on the topic.

Across six sessions, Crime and Consequence engages in this form of analysis, moving between Judaic and American legal doctrines, addressing ethical concerns, and sharing multiple perspectives on criminal justice reform. The course raises some of the most important questions about American criminal law in the light of Talmudic law: What is the Talmud’s theory of criminal justice, and how does it compare with secular theories? How can we impose punishment fairly and effectively? What are we to think about the ballooning numbers of those incarcerated in the U.S.? Should the death penalty be permissible? How can offenders be rehabilitated? How can recidivism be reduced? When, if ever, can trust be restored to a convict? And most importantly, how can crime be prevented?

The Talmud is a rich compilation of Jewish legal and moral scholarship, preserved and taught by the ancient sages and transmitted by scholars throughout the ages. This work is well-positioned to shed light on some of the modern ethical and legal dilemmas because it provides not only answers, but also questions—asking not only what, but also why; and because it is willing to suppose, to imagine, and to test the boundaries of intellectual curiosity.

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CLICK HERE for a PDF of the Course Flyer


CLICK HERE for a PDF of the Course Packet 

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the Course Packet for Attorneys