Judith Hauptman

E. Billi Ivry Professor Emerita of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture

Department: Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish Gender and Women's Studies, Ohel Ayalah

Phone: (212) 678-8905

Email: juhauptman@jtsa.edu

Building Room: Brush 526

Office Hours: By Appointment


BA, Barnard College; BHL, MA, PhD, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Judith Hauptman is the E. Billi Ivry Professor Emerita of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Dr. Hauptman’s scholarly research focuses on two areas. 

The first is unraveling the mystery of how the Talmud came into being—i.e., how the many strands of rabbinic teachings coalesced into one coherent document. Her work may be classified as synoptic studies—a specialized area of Talmudic research in which related texts are examined for their implications about the history of the texts themselves and of Jewish law. Her first book in this area is titled Development of the Talmudic Sugya: Relationship Between Tannaitic and Amoraic Sources (University Press of America, 1987). Her most recent book, Rereading the Mishnah: A New Approach to Ancient Jewish Texts (Mohr Siebeck, 2005), examines the relationship of the Mishnah and the Tosefta, two early rabbinic works. 

Her second area of research involves investigating women’s roles in Judaic thought, bringing an evaluation of the social and ethical norms of the rabbinic period into dialogue with contemporary issues. In Rereading the Rabbis, A Woman’s Voice (Westview, 1998), she traces the development of women’s legal status over time, from chattel in the Bible to second-class citizen at the end of the Talmudic period. 

A popular lecturer and writer, Dr. Hauptman has authored many influential articles. Among them are “Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies” (Judaism, Winter 1993); “A Time to Mourn, a Time to Heal” (Celebration and Renewal, Jewish Publication Society, 1993); “Judaism and a Just Economy” (Tikkun, January/February 1994); “Mishnah as a Response to Tosefta” (The Synoptic Problem in Rabbinic Literature, Brown Judaic Series, 2000); “How Old Is the Haggadah?” (Judaism, Winter 2002); “The Challenge Facing the Conservative Movement” (The Jewish Week, July 8, 2005); and “Ordaining Gay Men and Women” (The Forward, April 13, 2007). 

In 2004, not long after her ordination as a rabbi, she founded Ohel Ayalah, an outreach project to young Jews on the margins, named in memory of her mother. Ohel Ayalah runs free, walk-in High Holy Days services and Passover seders for all ages on the first night and for twenty- and thirtysomethings on the second. Hundreds of young people attend these events each year. 

Dr. Hauptman has served as a board member of the Association for Jewish Studies, as rabbinics section coordinator of AJS’s conference, and as a member of the AJS Program Committee. She also served on the board of the Jewish Community Project, an organization that seeks to enhance Jewish life in lower Manhattan. From 2001 to 2012, she was a volunteer chaplain to the Jewish residents at the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, a Catholic facility in lower Manhattan, and ran services there on a regular basis. It closed in 2012. 

In addition to her full-time post at JTS, where she has taught since 1973, Dr. Hauptman is a frequent instructor in the adult-education program at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. She has also served on the faculties of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion; the Seminario Rabínico Latino Americano, JTS’s campus in Buenos Aires; JTS’s Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor supplemental Hebrew high school; the Union of American Hebrew Congregations Kallah; the Wexner Heritage Foundation Summer Institute; Limmud UK; and Limmud NY. She spent May 2010 in Moscow, teaching Talmud for JTS’s Project Judaicaat the Russian State University for the Humanities. 

Dr. Hauptman received a degree in Talmud from the Seminary College of Jewish Studies at JTS (now Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies) and a degree in Economics from Barnard College, and earned an MA and a PhD in Talmud from JTS. In May 2003, she was ordained as a rabbi by the Academy for Jewish Religion. 


  • Rereading the Mishnah: A New Approach to Ancient Jewish TextsTübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.
  • Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman’s VoiceBoulder, CO: Westview, 1998.
  • Development of the Talmudic Sugya: Relationship Between Tannaitic and Amoraic Sources. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987.
  • “The Talmud’s Women in Law and Narrative.” Nashim, forthcoming September 2015, in a festschrift issue honoring this author (JH).
  • “A New Interpretation of the 39 Forbidden Sabbath Labors.” In Steven Fraade festschrift, edited by Christine Hayes, Michael Novick, and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, in the Supplements to the Journal of Ancient Judaism series, forthcoming 2016.
  • Translation and annotation of Mishnah Betsah. In The Mishnah, edited by Shaye J. D. Cohen, Robert Goldenberg, and Hayim Lapin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016.
  • “Thinking About the Ten Theses in Relation to the Passover Seder and Women’s Participation.” In Meals in Early Judaism: Social Formation at the Table, edited by Susan Marks and Hal Taussig, 43–59. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
  • “The Talmudic Rabbi as Holy Man.” In Rabbi-Pastor-Priest: Their Roles and Profiles Through the Ages, edited by Walter Homolka and Heinz Günther-Schöttler. Boston/Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012.
  • “A Synchronic and Diachronic Reading of Mishnah Shabbat 2:6: On the Topic of Why Women Die in Childbirth.” In Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, 475–87. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.
  • “שלשת המרכיבים היסודיים של הסוגיה: הסתם , המימרה, והברייתא” in מלאכת מחשבת” (“The Three Basic Components of the Sugya: The Tannaitic Passages, the Amoraic Statements, and the Anonymous Commentary”). In Studies in the Redaction and Development of Talmudic Literature, edited by Aharon Amit and Aharon Shemesh, 27–38. Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan University, 2011.
  • “Mishnah as a Response to ‘Tosefta.’” In The Synoptic Problem in Rabbinic Literature, edited by Shaye J. D. Cohen, 13–35. Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Series, 2000.
  • “A Time to Mourn, a Time to Heal.” In Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism, edited by RelaMintz Geffen, 226–51. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1993.
  • “Changing Conservative Judaism.” The Jewish Week, March 4, 2014.
  • “Growing the Conservative Movement.” The Jewish Week, October 15, 2013.
  • “הדבר מסור לנשים: נשים וטקסי דת ביתיים” (“‘The Matter Is Turned Over to Women’:Yerushalmi Pesahim 1:4-Women and Domestic Religious Ritual”). Sidra 24–25 (March 2010), 83–111.
  • “A New View of Women and Torah Study in the Talmudic Period.” JSIJ 9 (2010), 249–92.
  • Teaching Talmud in Moscow.” The Jewish Week, July 2010.
  • Free Services Are the Ticket to Jewish Continuity.” The Jewish Daily Forward, October 2007.
  • “Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies.” Judaism, Winter 1993.
  • “Judaism and a Just Economy.” Tikkun, January/February 1994.
  • “How Old Is the Haggadah?” Judaism, Winter 2002.
  • “The Challenge Facing the Conservative Movement.” The Jewish Week, July 8, 2005.
  • “Ordaining Gay Men and Women.”The Jewish Daily Forward, April 13, 2007.


  • Talmud Lecture at the Knesset Library, March 11, 2014. Topic: The Moral Obligation to Speak Out in the Face of Wrongdoing (Bavli Shabbat 54b–55a), at the invitation of MK Ruth Kalderon.
  • “The Talmud’s Women in Law and Narrative,” Stanford University, sponsored by Hillel at Stanford, May 18, 2014.
  • “פסיקה לחומרא ועשייה לקולא: פירוש חדש של מספר מעשיות קצרצרות בתלמוד הבבלי” (“Strict Rules and Lenient Practice: A New Interpretation of Several Very Short Anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud”), by invitation, plenary opening lecture at the World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, July 2013.


Dr. Hauptman’s current research focuses on legal anecdotes in the two Talmuds. She is amassing a large collection to test the hypothesis that the reason these anecdotes have been included in the text of the Talmud immediately following presentation of the law is to indicate that the law need not be fulfilled precisely as formulated, but may be tweaked somewhat. 

Many of the anecdotes show that wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and servants, when following the instructions of the head of the household, introduced small changes into their performance of the law. The implication appears to be that the male rabbis in their discussions did not fully appreciate the life circumstances that affect how the law is to be carried out by members of their households. In addition, these anecdotes, which are likely based on real occurrences but edited for inclusion in the Talmud, provide details about the social history of women.