Learn your Israeli law at FDU
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Learn your Israeli law at FDU

Ever wonder how to write an Israeli legal contract or if Israel requires Miranda Rights to be read? Those who are fluent in Hebrew will soon get a chance to find out the ins and outs of Israeli law at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

FDU will offer a new undergraduate specialization in Israeli law starting this fall. The three-year program requires 30 credits in Israeli law and 60 credits in law-related courses, all taught in Hebrew. According to FDU officials, the program is targeted at Israelis living in the area but is open to anybody who speaks fluent Hebrew. FDU is partnering with Israel’s largest law school, that of Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, to offer the program.

Ono officials "thought there might be many Israelis here temporarily — working for large Israeli corporations, or post-army who have not attended college yet — who might be interested in the program," said the academic director of the new specialization, David Rosen, a professor of anthropology at FDU’s College at Florham. "Many Israelis who aren’t thinking about going back might [also] find it convenient to take an undergraduate program taught 75 percent in Hebrew."

The program will include courses in contract law, constitutional law, civil and criminal procedure, public and private international law, corporate and tax law, tort, and property and environmental law. Students who complete the program will receive bachelor’s degrees with specializations in Israeli law from FDU.

"We’ll be offering a specialization that will cover the courses you would get if you were an undergraduate law student in Israel," Rosen said.

FDU’s global mission is to prepare world citizens and that’s what this program does, said university president J. Michael Adams. The program can benefit people who contract with Israeli companies, or who just want an understanding of legal positions in Israel, he said.

Representatives from Ono Academic College approached FDU almost two years ago about creating an Israeli law program at FDU, Rosen said. In Israel, law is an undergraduate degree program, and many law students do not actually end up as practicing lawyers, he said. Ono officials thought that offering the program at FDU would interest Israelis in the area who could then transfer their credits to Ono.

"There is a huge amount of economic business between this region and Israel. We’ve had feedback that there’s tremendous interest in this," Adams said.

The specialization also includes 30 credits in general and interdisciplinary studies taught in English, but the majority of the program will be taught in Hebrew because so many of the details of the Israeli legal system could be lost in the translation, said Rosen, who is fluent in Hebrew. There also aren’t many English textbooks that cover Israeli contract law, he added.

"Once you decide to teach a law-oriented program, you really can’t do it in English," Rosen said. "Legal matters are fairly local."

FDU does not offer classes in conversational Hebrew, but if this program is successful the school may look into doing so, Adams said.

To aid Rosen with the program, which will be taught at FDU’s Metropolitan campus in Teaneck, the university is in the process of hiring a full time associate professor from Kiryat Ono, as well as two adjunct faculty members who teach law at NYU and Columbia.

Ono will advise FDU on course content for the specialization and will also ease the transfer of credits for students who wish to continue their studies at Ono in Israel. According to Adams, Ono will also benefit from a reputation by association with an American university.

If the program is successful, Rosen said, FDU would be the only university in the United States with a law program in a foreign language.

Although FDU will offer the specialization as an undergraduate program, the university is not targeting the traditional undergraduate student. The minimum age for participation is ‘3. This is because Israelis in the area are usually older than typical undergraduate students; many complete their required service in the Israeli army before going on to college.

"An incoming Israeli student would almost always be older than an incoming American student by four years," Rosen said.

FDU announced the program earlier this month and had yet to enroll any students as this paper went to press, but the interest is definitely there, Rosen said. He expects the specialization to begin as a trimester program on Oct. ”.

The university offers dual degree programs in Spain, Cyprus, and India. Although it does not have an official study abroad program in Israel, it could in the future if this program is successful, Adams said.

"We have a particular interest in encouraging study abroad with our partners around the world. When you have that relationship, it makes things easier for students," he said. "One step at a time."

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