Rabbi Elliot Dorff

Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Professor in Philosophy
University Rector
edorff [at] aju.edu
(310) 440-1255
Elliot dorff headshot

    PhD, Philosophy, Columbia University, 1971

    Rabbinic Ordination, Jewish Theological Seminary, 1970

    A.B., Columbia College, 1965

    Dr. Elliot Dorff serves as the rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy at the American Jewish University. For over four decades, he has held the position of visiting professor at UCLA School of Law, where he teaches a course on Jewish law.

    Rabbi Dorff is a highly respected scholar and leader. He received the Journal of Law and Religion's Lifetime Achievement Award and holds four honorary doctoral degrees in addition to his earned Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University.

    He has played a significant role in the Conservative Movement, serving on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards since 1984 and chairing it from 2007 to 2022. He also contributed to the new Torah commentary for the movement, Etz Hayim.

    Rabbi Dorff's leadership extends beyond the religious sphere. He has chaired several scholarly organizations, including the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, the Jewish Law Association, the Society of Jewish Ethics, and the Academy of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies. He even served as the Honorary President of the Jewish Law Association from 2012 to 2016.

    His expertise in bioethics has led him to participate in various important initiatives. He served on the Ethics Committee of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Health Care Task Force and testified before the President's National Bioethics Advisory Commission. He also contributed to the Surgeon General's commission and the National Human Resources Protections Advisory Commission.

    From 2009 to 2022, Rabbi Dorff served on the Broader Social Impacts Committee for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, specifically focusing on the ethical and religious implications of the human origins exhibit. He currently serves on the Ethics Advisory Committee for stem cell research in California and has been involved with the FaithTrust Institute, an organization combating domestic violence.

    In his local community, Rabbi Dorff has been deeply involved with Jewish Family Services, serving as president from 2004 to 2006 and remaining on the board since 1984. He has also been a member of the ethics committee at UCLA Medical Center since the 1980s. He actively participates in interfaith dialogue as co-chair of the Priest-Rabbi Dialogue and previously served as chair of the board of directors for the Academy of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies.

    Rabbi Dorff is a prolific writer, having authored or co-authored over 30 books and published more than 200 articles on Jewish theology, law, and ethics.

    Rabbi Dorff's publications include over 200 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics, together with eleven books that he has written and an additional fourteen books that he has edited or co-edited on those topics, including the following:

    • Jewish Law and Modern Ideology (United Synagogue of America, 1970).
    • The Oxford Handbook on Jewish Ethics and Morality, edited with Jonathan Crane.
    • Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought, edited with Laurie Zoloth.
    • 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
    • Jewish Medical Ethics: A 21st Century Discussion (Jerusalem: The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, 2019)
    • Faculty Guide: Jewish Medical Ethics: A 21st Century Discussion (Jerusalem: The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, 2019)