The ideas and ideals of justice and law – Tzedek u Mishpat – have been central to and a part of Jewish civilization from its inception. Abraham standing before his Creator and asking in astonishment and protest “Will the Justice of all the earth, Himself not do justice?” – the Decalogue – the giving of Torah/Nomos  – the soaring messages of Isaiah, Amos and the other prophets – the development of Halakha as a detailed program for life, informed by those earlier sources and its evolution over the centuries, are all landmarks – signposts in the very formation and understanding of the meaning of law and justice in Western civilization.

To understand these notions of law and justice in the deepest possible way is to gain formidable insight into the meaning of Jewish civilization. To understand this central feature of Jewish civilization is to gain formidable insight into the meaning of law and justice.

This is the central premise which informs the newly established Master’s in Law & Jewish Civilization which will be offered by NYU School of Law beginning in Academic year 2010/2011.

NYU School of Law now offers two master’s degrees:

1.  The traditional and well established LL.M. (Master of Laws), a degree offering law graduates professional specialization and legal expertise in various areas ranging from trade regulation to taxation.

2.  The newly established M.S.L. (Master of Studies in Law), which is not aimed at professional development but at a deep intellectual and academic enquiry. The M.S.L. is a new type of master’s approved by the State of New York at the request of NYU School of Law. Uniquely, it offers two tracks: It is open to law graduates and practicing lawyers who want a deeper understanding of the discipline they have studied and practice. It is, however, in its second track open to college graduates who have not taken a law degree who wish to gain an understanding on the nature of law and its relationship to society and the human condition.

The Master’s in Law and Jewish Civilization is the first program offered within the M.S.L. framework. We anticipate that other programs will follow.