Bar-Ilan University
Charles W. and Sally Rothfeld Fellowship

Research Topic

The Status of Converts in Halakhah: Negotiating Jewish Traditions and Roman Law


Yael Wilfand is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. She studies the social and cultural history of Jews who lived in Israel during the first five centuries CE. She is interested in the junctures of texts and material culture, and the relationship between rabbinic sources and the Roman world. Her current research explores the status of converts in tannaitic texts and the Jerusalem Talmud in light of Roman norms and laws concerning new citizens.

Wilfand received her PhD in Religion at Duke University. She has taught at Kibbutzim College, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and The Open University of Israel.

Selected publications

  • “Roman Concepts of Citizenship, and Rabbinic Approaches to the Lineage of Converts and the Integration of their Descendants into Israel,” Journal of Ancient Judaism 11 (2020)
  • with Marie Roux, “‘The flower of the whole world’: A Jerusalem Talmud’s Homily on Converts in the Light of Greaco-Roman Floral Motives,” Revue des Études Juives 179 (2020)
  • The Wheel that Overtakes Everyone: Poverty and Charity in the Eyes of Sages in the Land of Israel (Hebrew; Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 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.