Mayer Rabinowitz

Associate Professor Emeritus of Talmud and Rabbinics

Department: Talmud and Rabbinics, Library, Jewish Law, Rabbinical Assembly

Phone: (212) 678-8984



BA, BHL, and MA, Yeshiva University; MHL, Rabbinical Ordination, and PhD, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Mayer E. Rabinowitz is associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He served as JTS’s librarian from 1987 to 2002; under his leadership, the reputation and accessibility of The Library grew to new heights.

Rabbi Rabinowitz is the chairman of the Joint Bet Din of the Conservative Movement, which deals with matters of marriage and divorce as well as arbitration and mediation. He served as both secretary and research consultant to the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly; he was a committee member for 25 years, until 2006. Over the years, he served as director of the Saul Lieberman Institute of Talmudic Research, dean of The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary, associate dean of The Graduate School, and dean of students at The Seminary College of Jewish Studies / Teachers Institute (now List College of The Jewish Theological Seminary).   

Rabbi Rabinowitz is the author of several critical editions of medieval halakhic works and the editor/translator of “Jewish Law in the State of Israel” (Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly, 1974). His paper “On the Ordination of Women: An Advocate’s Halakhic Response” was published in Judaism and appears in The Ordination of Women as Rabbis: Studies and Responsa. He has lectured widely in North America and Israel on issues concerning Jewish law and the Conservative Movement.   

Rabbi Rabinowitz received his BA, BHL, and MA from Yeshiva University and his MHL, rabbinical ordination, and PhD from JTS.


  • Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, JTS, 2005 
  • Faculty Research Grant, JTS, July–August 1983 
  • Research Grant, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1977–78
  • Fellow of the Herbert Lehman Institute for Talmudic Ethics, 1967–70 
  • National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship, 1960–61



  • Sefer Hamordekhai—Tractate Megillah. Jerusalem: Machon Yerushalayim, 1995.
     A critical and annotated edition with an introduction. 
  • Sefer Hamordekhai—Tractate Gittin and Hilkhot Haget. Jerusalem: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1990. A critical and annotated edition with an introduction.

Articles and Responsa

  • “Jewish Law in the State of Israel,” ed. and trans. In Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly,1974, 237–301.
  • “Homosexuality and Halakhah.” Reconstructionist Magazine 51, no. 2 (Oct./Nov. 1985): 16–19. 
  • In Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, 1980–1985. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 1988:

– “Definition of a Davar Hadash,” with Kassel Abelson, 187–90.
– “A Pesach Guide,” 213–16.
– “Preparation and Serving of Food on Shabbat in the Synagogue,” 233–37.
– “An Addendum to Videotaping on Shabbat,” 243–45.
– “Tape Recording and Photography on Shabbat,” with Dvora Weisberg, 247–50.
– “The Question of Yom Tov Sheni for Visitors to Israel,” 253—255.

  • “Towards a Halakhic Guide for the Conservative Jew.” Conservative Judaism 39, no. 1 (Fall 1986): 7–33. 
  • “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis: An Advocate’s Halakhic Response.” In The Ordination of Women as RabbisStudies and Responsa, edited by Simon Greenberg. The Moreshet Series: Studies in Jewish History, Literature, and Thought XIV. New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1988, 107–23. 
  • “Sefer Hahakhmah of Rabbi Barukh b. Shmuel of Mayence” (in Hebrew). Sinai 98, nos. 5–6 (1986): 196–200. 
  •  In Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, 1986–1990:

“Rabbinic Supervision of Jewish Owned Businesses Operating on Shabbat,” with Dvora Weisberg. 317–20. 
“Rishon or Kohen,” 437–43. 

  • Responsa: 1991–2000, by the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, ed. Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2002:

– “Women Raise Your Hands,” 9–12. 
– “Canned Tuna Fish on Pesah,” 75–77. 
– “On Homosexuality,” 686–90. 
– “Renewal of Marriage for Couples Without a Get,” with Kassel Abelson, 751–54.

  • Presentation to conference on Meukavut B’get, International Jewish Women’s Human Rights Project of the International Council of Jewish Women. Jerusalem, 1998. Published on JTS website.
  • Papers adopted by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly since the most recent edition of its Proceedings and published on the RA website:

– “A Stunning Matter,” 2001. On post-shehita stunning and bolting. 
– “Ritual of Mourning When a Body Is Not Recovered,” with Kassel Abelson, 2001. 
– “Status of Transsexuals,” 2003. 
– “Tevillat Kelim,” with Rabbi Avram Reisner, 2007. 
– “Saying Kaddish for Twelve Months, a Valid Alternative,” with Rabbi Richard Plavin, May 2008.
– “Manual for Supervising the Kashrut of a Restaurant,” October 2013. 

  • “Caesarean Birth and Pidyon Haben.” In Tiferet Leyisrael: Jubilee Volume in Honor of Israel Francus, edited by Joel Roth, Menahem Schmelzer, and Yaacov Francus, 201–206. New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 2010.


Dr. Rabinowitz’s research focus includes current issues in Jewish Law and responsa literature concerning marriage and divorce.