Center for the Study of Judaism and Economics
Based in Jerusalem, CSJE is a unique research and teaching center devoted exclusively to the study of economics and economic policy from a Jewish perspective. CSJE is the place where leading rabbis, economists, entrepreneurs and policy makers meet with the purpose of creating, for the first time, a systematic Jewish economic theory.
Although Jewish scholarship dates back over 3000 years and has touched upon almost all subjects imaginable, there has been very little investigation of the interplay between Judaism, economic theory and economic policy. One of the reasons is that economics is a relatively new science, and it is only since the creation of the State of Israel that Jewish community leaders have been called upon to make economic policy decisions at the national level.
Because of the lack of scholarly work on the subject of Judaism and Economics,
it is often assumed, incorrectly, that Judaism cannot offer systematic answers to
complex economic problems. The work at CSJE aims to show the opposite; that it is
possible to build a general and uniquely Jewish economic theory with implications for
the most important economic and social policy issues of the day.
CSJE Main Projects
The public lecture series features leading academics and practitioners from
Israel and abroad whose research agenda is consistent with the centers mission
of exploring the connection between Judaism and economic freedom.
Research Fellowships are offered to scholars interested in studying economics
from a Jewish perspective. The resulting studies are published in a CSJE working paper series. Extracts of the studies are released to the media, government officials and the general public.
- Roundtable Discussions - series of 6 weekly meetings held several times a
year, participants include Jewish Studies scholars, Rabbis, economists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, university students and members of the general public.
- High School Workshop - geared towards secondary school students, takes place for one day, in school, at various locations throughout Israel.
- Beit Midrash - geared towards Torah scholars.
The curriculum includes in-depth study of the principles of economic theory together
with systematic learning of Jewish sources including Tanach, Talmud,
Responsa Literature and others.
The CSJE virtual library contains a large collection of studies touching upon
Judaism and Economics. This bibliography is the first resource of its kind in the world.
CSJE Public Lecture Series
May 13, 2010
"Economics and Religion"
Prof. Carmel Chiswick
Carmel Chiswick is Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her important contributions on the economics of Judaism,
she has written extensively on the economic aspects of household work, family formation, the impact of immigrants, the emergence of professional occupations,
and religion. She has worked with economists at several Israeli universities and has written extensively about economic issues related to the Jewish population.
In her presentation Prof. Chiswick provided an overview of the relationship between economics and religion. She first considered the effects of economic incentives
in the religious marketplace on consumers' demand for "religion." She then showed how this demand affects religious institutions and generates a supply of religious
goods and services. Other topics included the structure of this religious marketplace and the related "marketplace for ideas" in a religiously pluralistic society.
21 December 2009 at 7:00 pm at JIMS' office (Rav Kook 8)
"Monetary Economics and Jewish Thought"
Dr. Daniel Schiffman, Ariel University Center
Dr. Daniel Schiffman received his B.A. at New York University and his Ph.D. at Columbia University.
His Ph.D. dissertation, entitled "Shattered Rails, Ruined Credit: Financial Fragility and Railroad Operations in the Great Depression,"
was awarded the Allan Nevins Prize of the Economic History Association, for best dissertation in the economic history of North America.
Dr. Schiffman specializes in economic history and the history of economic thought. He has published a number of studies on the
evolution of monetary doctrine in Jewish religious thought, from the Middle Ages through the 20th century.
Joseph Isaac Lifshitz, Shalem Center
"Man's Will and the Idea of Property Law in Jewish Law", 7 June 2009
Joseph Isaac Lifshitz is a senior fellow at the Institute for Philosophy, Politics,
and Religion at the Shalem Center. He received his rabbinical ordination from Rabbis
itzhak Kulitz and David Nesher. He holds an MA in Jewish history from Touro College
and is pursuing a PhD in Jewish thought from Tel Aviv University. His areas of research
include Talmud, Jewish law, Jewish history, and political theory. He is also the
principal of the Rabbi Yitzhak Yechiel Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Professor Zvi Eckstein, Tel Aviv University and Deputy Governor
at the Bank of Israel
"Farmers to Merchants: Religion, Human Capital, and Jewish History
(1-1492 CE)", 29 March 2009
Zvi Eckstein received his PhD in Economics from the University of Minnesota in 1981.
He is currently Professor of Economics at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics,
Tel Aviv University, and Deputy Governor at the Bank of Israel. Professor Eckstein
has published numerous articles in leading journals such as the American Economic
Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Monetary Economics
and the European Economic Review.
Professor Eckstein will present his paper: "Farmers to Merchants: Religion, Human
Capital, and Jewish History (1-1492 CE)" . From the end of the second century CE,
Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring fathers to educate their sons.
We present evidence supporting our thesis that this change had a major influence
on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community
cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies ( 2nd to 7th centuries)
prompted voluntary conversions of Jews that account for a share of the reduction from
4.5 to 1.2 million. Second, the Jewish farmers who invested in education gained the
comparative advantage and incentive to enter skilled occupations during the urbanization
in the Abbasid empire in the Near East (8th and 9th centuries) and they did select
themselves into these occupations. Third, as merchants the Jews invested even more in
education as a precondition for the mailing network and common court system that endowed
them with trading skills demanded all over the world. Fourth, the Jews generated a
voluntary diaspora within the Muslim Empire and later to Western Europe. Fifth, the
majority of world Jewry lived in the Near East when the Mongol invasions in the 1250s
brought this region back to a subsistence farming economy in which many Jews found it
difficult to enforce the religious norm, and hence converted, as it had happened
Professor Uzi Segal, Boston College, USA
Uzi Segal completed his PhD in Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984.
Currently, he is a Professor of Economics at Boston College. He has published studies
in leading economics journals such as Econometrica, the Journal of Game Theory and the Journal
of Economic Theory.
Professor Segal will present his paper "Talmud on Transitivity": Transitivity is a fundamental axiom in Economics that appears in
consumer theory, decision under uncertainty, and social choice theory.
While the appeal of transitivity is obvious, observed choices sometimes contradict it.
This paper shows that treatments of violations of transitivity already appear in
the rabbinic literature, starting with the Mishnah and the Talmud (1st5th c CE).
This literature offers several solutions that are similar to those used in the modern
economic literature, as well as some other solutions that may be adopted in modern
situations. We analyze several examples. One where nontransitive relations are
acceptable; one where a violation of transitivity leads to problems with extended
choice functions; and a third where a nontransitive cycle is deliberately created
(to enhance justice).
Watch the Lecture on
CSJE Inaugural Lecture
Nobel Laureate in Economics Professor Robert Aumann
Professor Robert Aumann is the author of well over eighty research papers and six books,
and has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford,
Stony Brook, and NYU. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the British Academy, and the Israel Academy
of Sciences; holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Chicago, Bonn,
Louvain, City University of New York, and Bar Ilan University; and has received
numerous prizes, including the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for 2005.
Watch the Lecture on
To contact the CSJE