Elliot Dorff, Rabbi, PhD

Elliot Dorff

Elliot Dorff

Rector, Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy


Ext: 255


Columbia University, Ph.D. (Philosophy) 1971
Jewish Theological Seminary: Ordained 1970
A.B. Columbia College, 1965.


Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. is AJU’s Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy. For more than thirty years as a Visiting Professor, he has taught a course on Jewish law at UCLA School of Law.

Rabbi Dorff was awarded the Journal of Law and Religion’s Lifetime Achievement Award and holds three honorary doctoral degrees.

Rabbi Dorff is Chair of the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and served on the editorial committee of Etz Hayim, the new Torah commentary for the Conservative Movement. He has chaired three scholarly organizations: the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, the Jewish Law Association, and the Society of Jewish Ethics. He is also Immediate Past President of the Academy of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies. In Spring 1993, he served on the Ethics Committee of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Health Care Task Force. In March 1997 and May 1999, he testified on behalf of the Jewish tradition on the subjects of human cloning and stem cell research before the President's National Bioethics Advisory Commission. In 1999 and 2000 he was part of the Surgeon General’s commission to draft a Call to Action for Responsible Sexual Behavior; and from 2000 to 2002 he served on the National Human Resources Protections Advisory Commission, charged with reviewing and revising the federal guidelines for protecting human subjects in research projects. Rabbi Dorff is also a member of an advisory committee for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on the social, ethical, and religious implications of their exhibits. 



Rabbi Dorff's publications include over 200 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics, together with seventeen books:

• Jewish Law and Modern Ideology (United Synagogue of America, 1970).
• Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants (United Synagogue of America,1977; second, revised edition: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism,1996).
• A Living Tree: The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law (State University of New York Press, 1988) (with Arthur Rosett).
• Mitzvah Means Commandment (United Synagogue of America, 1989).
• Knowing God: Jewish Journeys to the Unknowable (Jason Aronson Press, 1992).
• Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader (Oxford University Press, 1995).   (Edited with Louis E. Newman).
• Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics (Jewish Publication Society, 1998), finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought.
• Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader (Oxford University Press, 1999). Edited with Louis Newman                                           
• To Do the Right and the Good: A Jewish Approach to Modern Social Ethics (Jewish Publication Society, 2002), winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life for 2002.
• Love Your Neighbor and Yourself: A Jewish Approach to Modern Personal Ethics (Jewish Publication Society, 2003).
•  The Way Into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) (2005), Jewish Lights Publishing,  National Jewish Book Award finalist.
• The Unfolding Tradition: Jewish Law After Sinai (Aviv Press [Rabbinical Assembly], 2005).
• For the Love of God and People: A Philosophy of Jewish Law (Jewish Publication Society, 2007)
•  Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Body (Jewish Publication Society, 2008).  Edited with Louis E. Newman
• Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Money (Jewish Publication Society, 2008).  Edited with Louis E. Newman                                                         
• The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam): A Brief Introduction for Christians (with Cory Willson) (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008).
• Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Power (Jewish Publication Society, 2009). Edited with Louis E. Newman.
• Three newest books in the Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices series, co-edited with Danya Routenberg and published by the Jewish Publication Society (2010):
a) Sex
b) War
c) Social Justice

Additional Professional Accomplishments

He is currently working on a project on Judaism and genetics for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of that organization’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Advisory Committee. He is an officer of the FaithTrust Institute, a national organization that produces seminars and educational materials to help people avoid or extricate themselves from domestic violence. He is also a member of the Ethics Advisory Committee for the state of California on stem cell research.

In Los Angeles, he is a Past President of Jewish Family Services and a member of the Ethics committee at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. He serves as Co-Chair of the Priest-Rabbi Dialogue of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and is President of the Academy for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Studies centered at UCLA. Rabbi Dorff is also a member of the Board of the Jewish Federation Council and Co-Chair of its initiative to serve the vulnerable.