Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey R. Woolf is an internationally known scholar, lecturer and public figure. He serves as an Associate Professor in the Talmud Department at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where he specializes in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish History, the History of Halakha and Rabbinic Literature, Religion and Anthropology and the inter-action between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. He is the director of Bar Ilan’s Institute for the Study of Post-Talmudic Halakhah. He received his PhD (1991) in Medieval Jewish History and Literature at Harvard University, under the guidance of the late Professor Isadore Twersky. While at Harvard, he spent a year at the Hebrew University as a Lady Davis Graduate Fellow (1983-1984). Prior to his Aliyah, he spent two years at Yale University, as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Religion. Woolf has served as a visiting professor at Yale University, Yeshiva University, and New York University. He has delivered guest lectures at Harvard University, Boston University, Yeshiva University, Drew University, Washington University, University of Leiden (NL), Potsdam University (Berlin), University of Bologna, University of Ferrara, and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO; Paris). He was recently a Tikvah Foundation Senior Fellow.
Rabbi Dr. Woolf studied for nine and a half years under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and received semikhah from him in 1982. While at Yeshiva University, he learned for four years in the Kollel, of R. Hershel Schachter. In addition, Rabbi Woolf received semikhah from Rabbi Gedaliah Felder, the late Av Bet Din of Toronto. From 2001-2003, he began studies toward Dayyanut at Kollel Eretz Hemdah in Jerusalem. Rabbi Dr. Woolf is well known in the public arena. He has been a leading advocate and spokesman for the development of Modern Orthodoxy, in both the United States and Israel. In Israel, he has served as the Chairman of YU’s Orthodox Forum in Israel, and has served as a member of the Executive Committee of Beit Hillel: For Responsive Religious Leadership. He was the founder of the Orthodox Roundtable, the first modern Orthodox Halakhic Think tank which set the agenda for every major issue addressed by the Orthodox, and broader Jewish, community in the past two decades. He was the founding Executive Chairman of YU’s Orthodox Caucus, and a moving force behind the RCA Pre-Nuptial Agreement to resolve the plight of women who are unable to obtain a religious divorce. His blog, My Obiter Dicta, is a well known forum for the discussion of religious and political issues facing Judaism and the Jewish People, in Israel and abroad. More recently, he has blogged at The Times of Israel.
Prof. Woolf is a much sought after lecturer, addressing a broad swath of issues and topics, of both historical and contemporary interest. Proficient in five languages (English, Hebrew, French, Italian, German, alongside Latin and Aramaic), he has lectured throughout Israel, the United States, Canada, and Europe. He is frequently interviewed in the electronic and print media, both in Israel and abroad: Time Magazine, France Soir (Paris), ADR-TV (Germany), the Jewish Chronicle (London), Zukunft (Germany), Der Spiegel (Germany), the Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem Post (French Edition), the Forward, the New York Jewish Week, Yedi’ot Aharonot, The Israel Times, Times of Israel, Yisrael ha-Yom, Ha-Modi'a, Ma'ariv, Maqor Rishon, Religion Times). In addition, he has appeared on BBC-World, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, WABC-TV (New York), Al Jazeera-USA, Israel Radio (Reshet Bet, Radio Moreshet, Israel National Network News, Radio Kol Hai, Radio Yerushalayim, TLV1, Galei Yisrael, Radio le-lo Hafsaqah, Radio 99, Galei Tzahal) and Israel television (Channels 1, 2, 10 and 20). Rabbi Woolf is the author of forty scholarly monographs. He has edited three books, among them the most recent translation of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s, Kol Dodi Dofeq. His latest book is The Fabric of Religious Life in Medieval Ashkenaz (1000-1300): Creating a Sacred Community (E. J. Brill 2015). He is presently working on a book (in Hebrew) of essays on Modern Orthodox Thought and a study of the Renaissance Italian Halakhist, Rabbi Joseph Colon. In addition, he is the author of dozens of articles that have appeared in popular publications.