Elon, Menachem

Elon, Menachem

Menachem Elon was born in 1923 in Düsseldorf, Germany. In 1935 Elon immigrated with his family to Israel, settling in Tel Aviv. Between 1938-1945 Elon studied in the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem and received rabbinic ordination. Elon received his legal training from the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics. He studied Talmud, Jewish History and Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, completing an M.A. in 1954. In 1955 Elon began lecturing at the Hebrew University in Family Law and Jewish Law. In 1962 he completed a PhD in Jewish Law. In 1966 he was appointed Associate Professor, and, in 1972, Full Professor. In 1973 Elon published his seminal work Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles (originally published in three volumes in Hebrew), which is still used as a text book on Jewish Law. Elon was appointed Supreme Court Justice in 1977 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1993.

Throughout his career, Elon was a prominent figure in the field of Jewish Law. In 1963, Elon founded the Institute for Jewish Law at the Hebrew University which he headed until his appointment as Supreme Court Justice. In addition, he was involved in creating chairs for Jewish Law at NYU, Harvard, and McGill. As a Justice, Elon promoted the utilization of Jewish Law as a source of inspiration and, following The Foundations of Law (1980) statute, even as a legal source in cases in which the legislature otherwise left a lacuna. Thus, Elon’s written decisions often include long reviews of Jewish legal sources regarding the case at hand. For his work on Jewish Law, Elon received many awards, including the Israel Prize in 1979. Elon died in 2013 at the age of 89.