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by Larry Teitelbaum

Stephen Goldstein Stephen Goldstein L’62 doesn’t just teach comparative law. He has had the opportunity to live it.

The former Penn Law professor immigrated to Israel in 1976. In the years since, he has had the chance to witness, teach and write about a legal system other than the one in which he was trained.

So how does Israel’s legal system compare to America’s? Goldstein describes the Israeli system as a “mixed jurisdiction.” “Israel’s procedural law, both civil and criminal, is still heavily based on English law,” says Goldstein, who holds the Chair in Procedural Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “However, our substantive private law has moved away from English law and is now based on continental European law, particularly German law, while our public law, particularly constitutional law, has been heavily influenced by American law.”

Morever, he notes that unlike the United States, Israel maintains separate religious laws that govern marriage, divorce and related family matters in the Jewish, Moslem, Christian and Druze communities. As Israelis debate the relevance of such laws in a modern democratic state, discussions also ensue about reforms to the judicial structure, changes in judicial selection, and the continued rise of class action suits, a matter of much litigation as well.

Twenty-seven years ago, Goldstein faced some difficult choices of his own. After graduating from Penn Law in 1962 (he also earned his undergraduate degree at Penn), Goldstein clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and worked for Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen in Philadelphia. Following Wolf Block, he spent ten years as a member of Penn Law’s faculty. Thus, he had developed special ties to Penn and to the area – which made it difficult to take a job in Israel.

“I had been offered a professorship at the Hebrew University and decided to accept,” says Goldstein, who spent a year in his adopted home on sabbatical before returning for good. “It was difficult to leave Penn, which had been my academic and professional home for many years, but the attraction of moving to Israel was very strong for me and my family.”

Today he teaches courses in Israeli and Comparative Procedure as well as Comparative Judicial Systems. He also teaches American Law, covering topics such as federalism, political selection of judges, the jury system and constitutional adjudication.

From this vantage point, Goldstein is also well-qualified to compare Israel’s legal education to the one offered in America. “There is a much greater variety of teaching methods than the more uniform American Socratic method – some are straight lecturers, others, as I do, mix lecture and discussion, and a few come close to the American model.”

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