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The Institute for Ethics, Judaism and State

At the Ernest and Marta Schwarcz Institute for Ethics, Judaism and State, MA students, doctoral candidates, and established senior researchers from leading Israeli universities explore the points of compatibility and discord between Jewish ethics and Israeli democracy. Fellows in this trail-blazing research forum come from a wide range of disciplines including Judaic Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, and Law and focus on the specific topic that is chosen as the area concentration for each year.

Within the framework of the Schwarcz Institute, fellows focus on topics such as:
• The relevance of Judaism to the modern State
• The meaning of sovereignty
• Solidarity vs. individualism
• Shabbat and workers’ rights
• Equality of citizens in Israel’s multicultural society
• A Constitution for the Jewish and democratic State of Israel

Coordinated by political scientist Dr. Moshe Hellinger, the Schwarcz Institute is currently focusing on ethics during times of war. Its explorations of “morality under fire” are delving into issues such as the concept of a “just” war, guerrilla warfare and collateral damage to innocent civilians, the use of human shields, and collective punishment of civilian populations. With a multidisciplinary approach, the Institute integrates content from Jewish studies, history, law, and the social sciences, and places emphasis not only on academic research and writing, but also on active involvement in education and in the public sphere.


As part of its activities, the Ernest and Marta Schwarcz Institute for Ethics, Judaism and State has embarked on a significant publishing project that will produce a series of ten books on central issues such as solidarity, equality, and foreign policy, which are related to the nature of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Aimed to speak both to religious and non-religious readers, this series will be published first in Hebrew and then in English, and will expose the public to the potential contribution of Jewish sources to contemporary political and social discourse.


The Ernest and Marta Schwarcz Institute for Ethics, Judaism and State is named after the late Prof. Ernest Schwarcz, a dean emeritus at Queens College in New York, and his late wife Marta. A professor of philosophy, Ernest Schwarcz founded the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College. He devoted much of his professional activity to political philosophy, focusing on how Jewish knowledge and moral and ethical questions shape policy. Mrs. Marta Schwarcz, established The Ernest Schwarcz Institute for Ethics, Judaism and State at Robert M. Beren College to serve as a trail-blazing framework that would continue his important work by examining Israeli society through the multi-disciplinary lens of Jewish tradition, political philosophy, political science, sociology and anthropology. Following her decease, the Institute carries her name as well.