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S.J.D. Candidate
Graduate Fellow
nplitman @


The Role of Law in Religious Transformation: How Feminists Use State Law to Transform Their Religion

In 2016 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that women are allowed to conduct the sacred Jewish ceremony of Tvilah – immersion in full nudity in a dedicated body of water (a Mikveh) – without the presence of a supervising female attendant. The petitioners were Orthodox religious feminists who grew tired of the attendants’ inquisitive and ultra-conservative approaches. By utilizing Israeli constitutional law to support their claims (mainly their rights to privacy and autonomy), and translating liberal rhetoric into religious vernacular, these women subsequently altered Jewish law itself.

How do agents of change transform their religions using state institutions? What are the legal processes that allow for this transformation? What are the normative and political implications of such a change? What are the implications for religion? And whose interests are being overlooked and sidelined in the process? My dissertation seeks to explore these and further questions, with the Mikveh case-study serving as a leading example of a significantly broader yet under-investigated phenomenon: religious feminists’ legal turn to state institutions in order to alter their own religions. For these purposes I intend to engage with similar case-studies from India, the U.S., and other countries, applying three disciplinary frames: Constitutional and administrative law, religious studies, and feminist theory.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Comparative Constitutional Law and Religion with Professor Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Governance Feminism with Professor Janet Halley, Harvard Law School
  • Jewish Law with Professor Benjamin Porat, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Additional Research Interests

  • Comparative Constitutional law
  • Gender & Political Economy
  • Legislative Law
  • Animal Law
  • Law & Literature


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2022 – Present
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. 2022 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • Ben-Gurion University, M.A., Jewish Thought, 2020
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem, B.A. Jewish Thought, 2016
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem, LL.B., 2016

Representative Publications

  • Nitsan Plitman, Harnessing Religious Arguments for The Benefit of Trans Advocacy: A New Approach,58(1) Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (forthcoming Dec. 2022)

Additional Information

  • Languages: English, Hebrew, Academic Aramaic

Last Updated: August 18th, 2022