About Us


Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe – Project Director

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University. She writes on issues of gender, multiculturalism and colonialism in Jewish family law and African customary law. Her publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions (with Sylvia Neil, Brandeis University Press, 2012). She holds law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard Law School, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand and Harvard Law School. She was a lecturer in law at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and a member of the Pan Commonwealth Expert Group on Gender and Human Rights. She is co-editor of the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Sylvia Neil – Founder and Chair

Sylivia Neil is the founder of the project and co-editor of its book series. She is a lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law, focusing on religion, law and politics. She formerly served as associate dean of the University of Chicago Law School, regional executive director and legal counsel of the American Jewish Congress and human rights commissioner for both the state and the county. She has developed programs, litigated and appeared amicus curiae, authored legislation and testified before legislative bodies on issues relating to religious liberty, women's rights, legal services and Israel. She has written and taught courses on religious liberty, gender, jurisprudence and legal writing. She received her J.D. cum laude from Northwestern, master's in religious studies from the University of Chicago and bachelor's degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan. Neil serves on the boards of various civic and philanthropic causes.

Professor Shulamit Reinharz –Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Professor Reinharz has an impressive record of transforming innovative ideas into institutional realities. While director of Brandeis’ Women’s Studies Program, she founded its graduate program, the first graduate program in Jewish women’s studies in the world, and the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. Founding director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Reinharz is the author of many books and articles, including "The JGirls Guide" and "American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise."

Advisory Board

Currently in formation