Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellowship

Research Topic

To Shame and Defame: Legal Pluralism and Jewish Litigation Choices in Medieval Ashkenaz


Rachel Furst is a research fellow and adjunct lecturer in medieval Jewish history and Jewish law at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Her research focuses on law and litigation as well as Jewish-Christian exchange in medieval northern Europe, and she has a particular interest in the history of women and gender.

Furst received her PhD in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has held fellowships at the Hebrew University, the Free University of Berlin, Oxford University, and New York University School of Law. Since 2017, she has coordinated a collaborative, international research project funded by the German-Israeli Foundation, “Rabbinic Responsa and Archival Records from Medieval Ashkenaz in Legal and Cultural Conversation.”

Selected publications

  • “A Return to Credibility? The Rehabilitation of Repentant Apostates in Medieval Ashkenaz” in On the Word of a Jew:  Religion,  Reliability,  and  the  Dynamics  of  Trust, ed. Nina Caputo and Mitchell B. Hart (Indiana University Press, 2019)
  • “Marriage Before the  Bench:  Divorce  Law  and  Litigation  Strategies  in  Thirteenth-Century Ashkenaz” Jewish History 31 (2017)
  • “Captivity, Conversion, and Communal Identity: Sexual Angst and Religious Crisis in Frankfurt, 1241” Jewish History 22 (2008)



Studying law between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries, an age of transition from a world of empires to the modern age of the nation-state and international law.