Areas of Expertise
- Religious liberty and discrimination
- Intersection of religion and commerce
- Church and state
- Jewish law
- Arbitration law
Dr. Michael Helfand is an expert on religious law and religious liberty with a particular emphasis on clashes between religion and commerce. He is a frequent author and lecturer, focusing on how U.S. law treats religious law, custom and practice.
Dr. Helfand in the News
Kept from Keeping the Sabbath, First Things
Religious Discrimination Takes Center Stage at the Supreme Court, Tablet Magazine
The First Amendment and the Vocabulary of Freedom, Jewish Review of Books
Washington Should Fund Ministers’ Salaries, Wall Street Journal
A Day of Rest May Get a Day in Court, Wall Street Journal
Jews as a Bridge on Religious Liberty, The Jewish Week
Making Faith-Based Institutions Inclusive, Inside Higher Ed
Is a Prisoner's Beard Dangerous?, Los Angeles Times
Hobby Lobby’s Challenge to Officialdom’s ‘Compelling Interest,' The Washington Times
- PhD, Yale University
- JD, Yale University
- BA, Yeshiva University
Research and Scholarship
‘The Peculiar Genius of Private-Law Systems’: Making Room for Religious Commerce, 97 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1787 (2020).
Jews and the Culture Wars: Consensus and Dissensus in Jewish Religious Liberty Advocacy, 56 San Diego L. Rev. 305 (2019).
Identifying Substantial Burdens, 2016 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1771 (2016).
Arbitration’s Counter-Narrative: The Religious Arbitration Paradigm, 124 Yale L.J. (2015)
The Challenge of Co-Religionist Commerce, 64 Duke L.J. (2015) (with Barak D. Richman)
Dr. Michael Helfand is an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law as well as associate director of the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies. He is an expert on religious law and religious liberty, focusing on how U.S. law treats religious law, custom, and practice. A frequent author and lecturer, he has published in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, New York University Law Review, and Duke Law Journal, as well as in various public audience publications, including the Los Angeles Times and the National Law Journal.
Prior to joining the Pepperdine Law faculty, Dr. Helfand was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, where his practice focused on complex commercial litigation. Before entering private practice, Dr. Helfand clerked for the Honorable Julia Smith Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Previous Media Appearances
- Taking Stock of a High Court Win, Hamodia (Dec. 6, 2020).
- Why Muslim Groups Are Backing the Ultra-Orthodox Jews Suing New York Over Coronavirus Restrictions, Tablet Magazine (Oct. 30, 2020).
- Do Cuomo’s Coronavirus Shutdown Orders Trample the First Amendment?, City & State (Oct. 9, 2020).
- Rerouting the Wall of Separation, Jewish Standard (Jan. 1, 2020).
- Supreme Court Decision on Funding for Religious Entities Divides Jewish Groups, Jewish Journal (July 12, 2017). Rabbinical Court Can’t Appeal Bankruptcy Court’s Order, Bloomberg (Oct. 7, 2016).
- How Studying Judaism Fits Into a Christian University, Jewish Journal (Jan. 13, 2016).
- In Religious Arbitration, Scripture Is the Rule of Law, New York Times (Nov. 2, 2015).