Passing of Prof. Gad Barzilai

Shalom Berger Discussion

H-Judaic is deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Professor Gad Barzilai (1958-2023), Professor of Law, Societies, and Justice at the University of Washington and Professor at Haifa University, where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Law and Vice-Provost.  He served as President of the Association for Israel Studies, 2011-2013.  The Wikipedia article on Prof. Barzilai provides the following biography:

"Barzilai was born on 11 January 1958, in Tel Aviv to parents who had survived the Holocaust. He studied History, Judaism and Political Science at Bar-Ilan University, Law at Tel Aviv University, and in 1987 he received his PhD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem which awarded him several prestigious prizes including Fulbright. After completing his PhD and LLB [JD] he studied quantitative research methods at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and completed a post doctorate at Yale University. Later he continued to teach at Yale University before deciding to return to Israel.

Barzilai served as a professor at Tel Aviv University in the political science department and the law school. Barzilai was the first founding director (1999–2002) of the newly established international Dan David Prize, which is among the three large prize foundations in the world, bestowing international prizes and scholarships for academic and scientific international excellence. In 2004 he moved to University of Washington where he has been a professor in the Law, Societies, and Justice Program,[2] Comparative Law and Society Studies Center,[3] and in the Jackson School of International Studies.[4] In 2012 he was elected and serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Haifa.

Barzilai was the co-founder and co-chair of the Israeli Association of Law and Society. He is a board member of the Law and Society Association (Class of 2006), American Journal of Political Science (1998–2003), Association of Israel Studies (1993–1996, 2007– ), Israel Studies Forum (2004– ), and the Journal of Comparative Studies (2006– ). He is active in international, Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian human rights organizations and has advised senior politicians and NGOs on issues of law and politics. Barzilai was elected in 2011 as the President of the Association for Israel Studies and served as its President (2011-2013).[5]

Gad Barzilai is best known for his critical analysis of law as a dimension in political power, which should be understood through using combined methodologies of socio-political-legal studies. His work emphasizes the importance of legal pluralism, political elite, critical communitarianismcultural relativism and political power in local, state and global sites. Barzilai has published numerous books and articles on these issues."

Prof. Barzilai's website at contains his full cv.

We extend deepest condolences to his family, colleagues, students and friends.


Jonathan D. Sarna

Chair, H-Judaic