Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Primo Levi Fellowship

Research Topic

R. Joseph Karo’s Halakhic Writings: The Book History Perspective


Tirza Y. Kelman researches contextualized Jewish Halakha and Jewish ‎thought, especially in sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire. She is currently working on book history issues connected to R. Joseph Karo’s treatises.

Kelman received her PhD from Ben Gurion University. She is a public activist in Israel, and regularly addresses ‎Halachic inquiries as a Yoetzet Halakha, a female Orthodox halachic authority. ‎Since 2007, she has also served as director of the Hebrew “Women’s Health & Halacha” Nishmat ‎Yoatzot Halakha website.

Selected publications

  • “What Makes a Text Responsa? R. Israel Isserlein's Trumat Hadeshen as a Case Study,” Jewish Law Association Studies (forthcoming)
  • “’Written with Iron and Lead Letter in Print’: The Print Revolution and the Creation of the Beit Yosef,” Hebrew; Pe'amim: Studies in Oriental Jewry 148 (2017)



Focusing on the broad contexts in which Jewish (and Israelite) law was developed by and for Jews, and in which it operated, treating law as a necessary component for understanding the broader dynamics of culture, history, governance, and economics of each place and period.