Family law often reflects deep cultural values and norms. Therefore, exploring how different legal systems address matters related to family relations provides valuable insights into cultural distinctions.  

In Israel, family law, particularly its religion-based laws governing marriage and divorce, is considered to embody the country's identity as a Jewish state, encompassing both its cultural-religious Jewish identity and its connections with the global Jewish community. This course will familiarize you with this unique legal landscape, which combines a mixture of religious and secular-civil laws. Our focus will be on understanding the socio-legal and political dynamics that drive developments in this field, particularly concerning access to marriage, the ability to divorce, reproductive rights, and the establishment of parenthood. You will also be introduced to the complex relationship between the parallel judicial systems that share jurisdiction in matters of family law: the religious courts and the civil family courts.  

The course will also compare Israeli law with different Anglo-American jurisdictions, primarily the U.S., regarding their approach on a number of family law issues. This comparative perspective will equip you with a nuanced understanding of the intricate relationship between law, family, and religion in different cultural contexts. 

Target group

Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, particularly from the Faculty of Law but also including Jewish Studies students, and incoming Erasmus students. 

English proficiency required.



Class 1

Lecture: Introduction to the Israeli legal system, and its personal law system; introduction to principles of American family law

Class 2:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Access to Marriage and the Right to Marry

The meaning of (legal) marriage; The meaning of the right to marry; Restriction on the right to marry (age, marriage to more than one person, same-sex marriage in general)

Class 3:

Lecture and structured class discussion: divorce, religious divorce, and the challenges it raises

Class 4:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Religious Family Law and Gender Equality; Minority Groups in Israel and Family Law Dilemmas

A focus on polygamy

Class 5:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Alternatives to marriage

informal relationships; private religious marriages; civil marriage abroad; nonmonogamy and polyamory; nonconjugal relationships

Class 6:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Reproduction, Parenthood, and the Parent-Child Relationship in general

Defining parenthood, parenthood in same-sex families, and multiple parenthood.

Class 7:

Lecture and structured class discussion: assisted reproduction

Sperm donation, egg donation, and surrogacy

Class 8:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Frozen Embryos Disputes; embryo mix-up

Class 9:

Lecture and structured class discussion: Posthumous Human Reproduction

Class 10:

Synthesizing & Wrapping up


This summer school takes place at Stadcampus, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Micro-credentials and study credits (ECTS)

Successful completion of the summer school and the submission of a paper reflecting on the topics explored throughout the course can be awarded with 3 ECTS credits. To include the credits in the curriculum at the home institution, participants need an agreement with the responsible person at their university. All certificates of completion are issued as a micro-credential.