Professor Emeritus Reuven Yaron, 1924-2014

On the morning of 8 April 2014, Reuven Yaron died in his sleep. He was five months short of his ninetieth birthday. I first met Professor Yaron in Vienna, the city of his birth, at the SIDHA Conference in 1994. I never knew him well; but that he was a warm, witty, and charming man with a sly sense of humour was immediately obvious. He was kind and interested in a young legal historian. As a pupil of Alan Watson, I of course knew who Professor Yaron was and had read some of his work. I subsequently met him at events in Aberdeen commemorating his teacher, David Daube. He also contributed to the Festschrift for Alan Watson I edited with Olivia Robinson.

Professor Yaron had emigrated to Palestine in 1937, and had studied law at the University of Jerusalem, before writing a D.Phil thesis at Oxford, under the supervision of Daube, on Gifts in Contemplation of Death in Jewish and Roman Law, published by OUP in 1960. He in fact had started his work with Daube at the University of Aberdeen, before his master moved to Oxford. After teaching at Aberdeen, Professor Yaron taught at the Hebrew University from 1957 until his retirement, serving as Dean from 1967-1971. He also held various public posts in Israel.

Professor Yaron’s main publications are listed in volume 29 of the Israel Law Review, which was dedicated to him on his 70th birthday. His scholarship ranged through the linked fields of Roman law, ancient near eastern law, Jewish law and Aramaic papyri.

While Professor Yaron was full of years, and the death of a man who has had a rich and full life in his ninetieth year can be no tragedy, it reminds us all of the passing of a generation of brilliant scholars who did much to develop legal education in Britain and elsewhere after the Second World War.