Milton R. Konvitz

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Milton R. Konvitz
Born(1908-03-12)March 12, 1908
DiedSeptember 5, 2003(2003-09-05) (aged 95)

Milton Ridbas Konvitz (March 12, 1908 – September 5, 2003) was a Cornell University faculty member. He died September 5, 2003 at the age of 95.

Early life, education and early career[edit]

He was born in 1908 in Safed, a city in what is now Israel that was then part of the vilayet of Sidon of the Ottoman Empire, and was the son of Rabbi Joseph Konvitz and grandson of Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Wilovsky (Ridvaz). In 1915, he immigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1926. He studied at New York University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1929 and in 1930 a law degree. In 1933, he received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell. Prior to joining Cornell's faculty, he worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he was one of three assistant general counsels to Thurgood Marshall.

Academic career[edit]

Konvitz was a professor in Cornell's Law School and a founding faculty member of School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He retired in 1973. He was an authority on constitutional and labor law, and on civil and human rights, coining the term "civil liberties."[citation needed] He was famous for teaching a class called American Ideals at Cornell for many years; it was based in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations and regularly drew enrollments in the many hundreds, with the eventual total exceeding over 8,000. Young Ruth Bader, later Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was one of those students.

Konvitz was one of the founders of Cornell's Department of Near Eastern Studies and of its Program of Jewish Studies. He and his wife, the former Mary Traub, often hosted Jewish students and others.

A professorship in his name was dedicated with funds from former students and others; Ross Brann is the current Milton Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies.

Liberian Codification Project[edit]

Working with Chief Justice James A. A. Pierre of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Konvitz, for nearly 30 years, drew up the body of statutory laws in the Republic of Liberia. He also edited the opinions of Liberia's Supreme Court. As a token of thanks for his work he received the Grand Band of the Order of the Star of Africa, as well as an honorary degree from the University of Liberia.

Personal life[edit]

Konvitz was married for over 50 years to the former Mary Traub. Their son Josef was a senior official of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based in Paris, where he lives with his wife, Isa. Their sons, Eli and Ezra, live in Hong Kong and London respectively, Eli a director at W S Atkins and Ezra having co-founded ArtStack. Josef Konvitz retired from the OECD in 2011, and was a visiting professor at King's College, London.[1]

Published works[edit]

  • A Century of Civil Rights ISBN 978-0-313-24123-9
  • The Constitution and Civil Rights
  • Fundamental Liberties of a Free People: Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly ISBN 978-0-313-20104-2
  • The American Pragmatists : Selected Writings edited by Milton Ridvas Konvitz ISBN 978-0-7581-8328-6
  • Judaism and Human Rights
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Emerson: A Collection of Critical Essays
  • Torah and Constitution: Essays in American Jewish Thought
  • The American Pragmatists, edited by Milton R. Konvitz and Gail Kennedy
  • The Alien and the Asiatic in American Law
  • Expanding Liberty: Freedom's Gains in Postwar America
  • Religious Liberty
  • Nine American Jewish Thinkers
  • Bill of Rights Reader: Leading Constitutional Cases
  • Judaism and the American Idea
  • Civil Rights in Immigration
  • The Legacy of Horace M. Kallen
  • First Amendment Freedoms: Selected Cases on Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly
  • On the Nature of Value: The Philosophy of Samuel Alexander
  • Aspects of Liberty: Essays Presented to Robert E. Cushman, by Milton R. Konvitz and Clinton Rossiter
  • The Recognition of Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Essays in Political Theory
  • Liberian Code of Laws Revised
  • Profane Religion and Sacred Law

Books and Articles About[edit]

  • Rights, Liberties, and Ideals: The Contributions of Milton R. Konvitz, by David Joseph Danelski
  • Biography - Milton Ridvas Konvitz (1908–2003), from Contemporary Authors
  • Milton R. Konvitz, z"l.: from Midstream


  1. ^ "Visiting Professors and Lecturers". King's College. King's College, London. Retrieved 2 June 2014.

External links[edit]