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Center for Jewish Law Presents Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on February 9

The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will present their Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on Sunday, February 9, 2014, at 6 p.m. in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, New York City.

Dr. Isaiah Gafni

Dr. Isaiah Gafni will deliver the Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on February 9.

Dr. Isaiah M. Gafni, the Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law will discuss “Punishment, Blessing or Universal Mission: Ancient Perceptions (And Some Modern Thoughts) on Jewish Diaspora.”

Gafni is the Sol Rosenbloom Professor of Jewish History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has taught for 40 years. Gafni has served as a visiting professor at numerous universities, including Harvard, Yale and Brown. In 2010, he was awarded the Shimshon Rosenthal Prize for Talmudic Studies by the Talmud Department of Hebrew University. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yair Lorberbaum to Discuss the Concept of the Decree of Scripture in the Thought of Maimonides on February 6

The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization (CJL) at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will present their Seventh Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on Wednesday, February 6 at 6 p.m. in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, New York City. Dr. Yair Lorberbaum, the Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law will discuss “The Concept of the ‘Decree of Scripture’ (Gezerat Ha-Katuv) in the Thought of Maimonides.”

Yair Lorberbaum is the Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law

Lorberbaum is a professor of law at the Bar-Ilan University, specializing in Jewish law, Jewish thought, jurisprudence and philosophy. He has also been a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem since 1991. Lorberbaum has previously served as a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Princeton, and Cardozo, and was a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

He is the author of Subordinated King: Kingship in Classical Jewish Literature and the forthcoming Apples of Gold in Silver Settings: Maimonides on Parables, Philosophy, and Law. In 2007, his book, Image of God: Halakhah and Aggadah, was awarded the prestigious Goldstein-Goren Award for best recent book in the field of Jewish thought. Read the rest of this entry…

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Visiting Scholar Hannah Kasher to Discuss Ultimate Punishment According to Jewish Philosophy at Feb. 15 Center for Jewish Law Lecture

The Yeshiva University (YU) Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization (CJL) at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will present their Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, New York City. Dr. Hannah Kasher, the Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law at Cardozo, will discuss“On Ultimate Punishment According to Jewish Philosophy: Between R. Saadia Gaon and Moses Mendelssohn.”

Dr. Hannah Kasher

Dr. Hannah Kasher, Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law

Kasher is an associate professor of Jewish philosophy at Bar-Ilan University. Her scholarly interests include medieval exegesis of the Bible. Kasher edited Joseph ibn Kaspi’s Shulhan Kesef and is the author of Heretics in Maimonides’ Teaching (in press), as well as numerous scholarly articles. She is on the editorial board of Da’at and sevres as director of the Schneeweiss Chair for Jewish Philosophy and Ethics.

The lecture is named for the late Dr. Ivan Isaak Meyer, who practiced law in Germany and New York City and was a generous supporter of Jewish education in the New York area. Admission is free and open to the public.

To register online, visit www.cardozo.yu.edu/cjl/registration or call 212-790-0258. For more information on The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization visit www.cardozo.yu.edu/cjl.

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Joint Certificate Program to Educate Rabbis on Medical and Halachic Issues Associated with Infertility

As former rabbi of South Florida’s Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Kenneth Brander would regularly field questions from couples struggling with fertility issues. “I didn’t know how to answer these difficult questions,” said Brander, who currently serves as David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

After taking a sabbatical and studying at the Puah Institute (Machon Puah)—Israel’s renowned institute of fertility and medicine in accordance with halacha [Jewish law]— Brander realized just how important it was for young rabbis to be trained in this emerging field.

“With the advances in medical science that have allowed couples with fertility challenges the opportunity to actualize their dream of having a family, comes a whole host of halachic issues including definitions of paternity and maternity,” said Brander. “It is imperative that our rabbis are prepared to handle these questions in their respective communities.”

As such, the CJF and the Puah Institute have recently launched a joint certificate program for graduates of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) that will feature six months of intensive online courses, as well as several yemei iyun [days of study] at YU’s New York campus, with the goal of educating rabbis on the halachic and medical issues involved with infertility.

The program will offer courses on topics ranging from fertility treatments, egg donation and sperm donation to surrogate mother, halachic status of the fetus, and birth control. With the combined resources of Yeshiva University and the Puah Institute, participants will have access to leading medical professionals and halachic experts in the field.

Upon their completion of the program, which runs from November 2011 through April 2012, participants will receive a certificate from the CJF and the Puah Institute.

“Participating rabbis will be exposed to the extensive practical experience of the Puah Institute and will have opportunities to maintain a connection with the Institute during and after the course as cases arise in their respective communities,” said Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, director of the Puah Institute.

Rabbi Dani Rockoff, a YU graduate currently serving as rabbi of Congregation BIAV in Overland Park, Kansas, chose to participate in the program because he felt it would give him “the knowledge and skills to properly deal with a very sensitive and complex area of halacha and Jewish family life.”

“I hope to learn from some of the foremost experts in the various fields that relate to infertility—halacha, science, counseling—and be properly trained to assist others,” said Rockoff.

In all, more than 40 rabbis from around the world have registered to take part in the program’s inaugural year.

For more information, please email rabbinicprogramming@yu.edu

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Feb 25, 2009 — The Yeshiva University (YU) Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization (CJL) at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will present their Annual Ivan Meyer Lecture in Jewish Law on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:30 PM at the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, New York, NY. Professor Gerald J. Blidstein, the Ivan Meyer Visiting Scholar in Comparative Jewish Law, will speak on the subject of “Human Dignity as a Norm of Jewish Law.”

Gerald Blidstein is a professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Among his numerous research interests, he has written extensively on the legal thought of Maimonides and the relationship between law and ethics in Jewish law. He is a Fellow of the Israel Academy of Arts and Sciences and, in 2006, received the coveted Israel Prize in Jewish Thought. Professor Blidstein holds a doctorate in rabbinics from YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

The lecture is named for the late Dr. Ivan Isaak Meyer, who practiced law in Germany and New York City and was a generous supporter of Jewish education in the New York area. Admission is free and open to the public. To register online visit www.cardozo.yu.edu/cjl/registration or call us at 212-790-0258. For more information on The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization visit our Web site at www.cardozo.yu/edu/cjl

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Oct 13, 2008 — Aaron Levine’s analysis of the current financial meltdown through the lens of Jewish law was the subject of an article, ‘The Financial Crisis: What Would the Talmud Do?’ published on Time.com on Oct. 10.

Dr. Levine, the Samson and Halina Bitensky Professor of Economics and chair of the economics department at Yeshiva University, turned to Halakhah in ‘The Recession of 2008: The Moral Factor — A Jewish Law Analysis,’ which will appear in a forthcoming book, “Judaism and Economics,” published by Oxford University Press.

“[Dr. Levine] thinks that today’s capitalism needs to be a little more bounded ,” writes journalist David van Biema. “That term includes the poor man who mistakenly takes an impossible mortgage. But increasingly it may mean all of us. In regulating, says the rabbi-economist, ‘we have to imitate God, in the way He shows compassion and mercy when he deals with mankind.’”

Read the article here.

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Dr. Gerard Weinberg, a pediatric surgeon and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Mar 20, 2008 — Separating conjoined twins presents frighteningly complex moral challenges. Advances in surgical procedures have given doctors newfound ability to separate conjoined twins and improve their chances for survival. However, often one child will live only at the expense of his twin. Who is in a position to make that decision, and how is one to asses which life takes precedence?

Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) and the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) hosted “Separating Conjoined Twins in Jewish Law” on March 18 for over 100 students to learn and discuss these issues.

“The decision to surgically separate conjoined twins calls into question critical moral and ethical concerns, touching upon the very core foundations of life and death,” said David Harari, a senior at Yeshiva College who organized the event. “Although this is a rare phenomenon, we as Jews and as ethical human beings must be equipped with the know-how to deal with such complex dilemmas.”

Dr. Gerard Weinberg, a pediatric surgeon and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, presented the medical options and possible consequences of separating conjoined twins. David Wasserman, director of research at the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University, discussed the legal aspects involved in such a procedure. “The question, which is very difficult to answer, is ‘which interpretation is the right one?’” asked Wasserman. “Answers may come from religious and non-religious ethicists, but ultimately these will remain hard cases.”

Rabbi Daniel Feldman, director of rabbinic research at the CJF and an instructor in the Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program at RIETS, outlined various perspectives in Halakhah [Jewish law] using various models—the concept of abortion and treatment of terminally ill individuals—that could be applied to the case of conjoined twins.

“It’s fascinating to be given a glimpse of the Halakhic process at work in this area,” said Chana Wiznetzer, a sophomore in Stern College who sits on the MES board. “I gained a more concrete understanding of how our rabbinic leaders come to their conclusions, especially in such challenging situations.”

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Article Photo Left to right: Aaron Kogut, Yonah Bardos, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain Jonathan Sacks, Lady Elaine Sacks and Rebecca Goldberg.

Oct 18, 2007 — Recent medical developments have given rise to revolutionary means of treatment for infertility, yet many of the methods are fraught with halakhic (Jewish legal) complexities. “Partners in Creation: Fertility, Modern Medicine, and Jewish Law,” the second annual conference organized by Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society, examined these technological advances in treating fertility from both a medical and a halakhic perspective. For photos of the conference click here.

The conference attracted 500 people, including young couples, doctors, rabbinic scholars, students, and members of the Jewish community, and was also broadcast to audiences in Boca Raton, Montreal, and Jerusalem. Rabbi David and Anita Fuld, noted philanthropists who have a special interest in the accuracy of Halakhic and scientific information that reaches the community, sponsored the conference.

“We thought it was important to let couples know about opportunities available to them and to help them with their struggle, as well as create greater awareness of the issues,” said Aaron Kogut, co-president of the student-run Medical Ethics Society and a senior at Yeshiva College.

Kogut, along with Stern College for Women senior Chani Schonbrun, the society’s co-president, and Yonah Bardos, its executive director and a YC senior and rabbinical student, organized the event.

Founded in 2005 by Bardos and a group of YU students as a special project of the Center for the Jewish Future, the society runs lectures and large-scale events at the university, as well as organizes genetic testing to combat the high incidence of genetic diseases in the Jewish community.

“This really shows the power of the student,” declared Kogut. “YU’s Center for the Jewish Future under the auspices of Rabbi Kenneth Brander, and President Richard Joel have all taught us that we can go out and make a difference, and I think the conference clearly demonstrated that.”

Chief Rabbi of England Sir Jonathan Sacks delivered the keynote address, focusing on the intersection of science and Torah and the delicacy required in handling the powers of new technology in medicine. “The test of civilization,” Rabbi Sacks said, “is not just what it can do but what it chooses, for ethical reasons, no to do. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. There are limits to creation and we must remember those limits.”

Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, presented a brief history of infertility in Jewish law and laid the groundwork for the issues that would be addressed throughout the course of the day.

Dr. Richard Grazi, director of the Division of Reproductive Technology at Maimonides Medical Center, and Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, gave the second plenary, taking turns discussing the basics of treating infertility. Dr. Grazi dispelled some common myths about infertility and described possible complications and procedures regarding infertility. Rabbi Brander explained the halakhic concerns associated with those procedures and also stressed that the “the gift of science and helping to treat infertility speaks to our ability to be junior partners with God. Halakhah (Jewish law) celebrates scientific opportunities to realize the couple’s interest of having a family.”

Nine breakout sessions covered topics such as egg donation, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, halakhic infertility, and the psychological effects of infertility. The participants reconvened for the final session on new frontiers within fertility technology, featuring experts such as Dr. Susan Lobel, founder of Metropolitan Reproductive Medicine; Rabbi Menachem Burshtein, founder and director of Machon Puah in Jerusalem (whose talk in Hebrew was translated for the audience by two UN translators); Rabbi Herschel Schachter, rosh kollel at RIETS’ Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel (institute for advanced rabbinic study); and Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, head of the English Speaking Section of the Puah Institute and visiting associate professor at Einstein.

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Sep 6, 2007

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE CO-SPONSORS CONFERENCE ON MEDICAL ETHICS OF FERTILITY, MODERN MEDICINE, AND JEWISH LAW

Leading Experts to Explore Cutting-Edge Technology

New York, NY, September 6, 2007 – Young couples facing the challenge of infertility have many more options today due to extraordinary advances in medical research. However, Orthodox families must reconcile not only the medical and ethical issues inherent in addressing fertility problems, but also the parameters of Halakhah (Jewish law).

A groundbreaking conference, “Partners in Creation: Fertility, Modern Medicine and Jewish Law,” co-sponsored by Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Center which will examine fertility issues, will be held on Sunday, October 14, 9:30 am-5:30 pm at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The conference, organized by the Yeshiva University (YU) Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) and funded by the Fuld Family, will provide participants with both an overview and in-depth information on technologically advanced medical practices in use today that help families struggling with infertility. For the first time, the final session will focus on newly developed technologies and medical procedures from a halakhic (Jewish legal perspective.

In addition to plenary sessions dealing with general aspects of infertility treatment, participants will be able to choose from a series of specialized tracks, each geared toward comprehensive analysis of the most pressing issues in the field. A sampling of topics includes egg donation, artificial insemination, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and halakhic infertility, among others. The keynote address will be delivered by the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Individual sessions will be guided by preeminent rabbis and physicians who are leading experts in the fields of reproductive medicine and Halakhah.

“Reproductive technology, one of the most rapidly advancing fields in modern medicine, continues to generate profound ethical quandaries as it explores new and uncharted frontiers,” said Dr. Edward Reichman, associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM). “This conference, by bringing together some of the greatest minds in both reproductive medicine and Jewish law, will beautifully illustrate how the Jewish tradition continues to address cutting-edge science in a practical and relevant way.”

The Student Medical Ethics Society is a student-run organization with the goal of promoting education and awareness of medical ethics at YU. Dedicated students work alongside committed professors and teachers to translate complicated topics into
language the lay person can understand. MES is especially focused on issues of medical ethics relating to Torah values. MES was founded in 2005 by a group of undergraduate students with the support of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and has grown from a small group of students with shared interests to running large-scale events with university-wide participation. This is the second annual conference it has hosted. The Society also hosts genetic testing events to help combat the high incidence of various genetic diseases in the Jewish community.

Preregistration is required and will be open to all those who have an interest in learning more about the ethics of infertility. Admission is $20, $15 for YU alumni, $10 for RIETS rabbinic alumni, $10 for students, and $5 for YU students. For Early Bird Discount please register before September 27. The conference is accredited by AECOM to offer 6 AM PRA category 1 credits. To register please go to www.yu.edu/medicalethics

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David Mitzner shows Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh a copy of the book written about his life.

Apr 24, 2007 — In a moving ceremony at Houston’s United Orthodox Synagogue, the investiture of Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh as the first occupant of the Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Chair in Talmud and Jewish Law at the Yeshiva University in Israel campus took place on April 14. The chair was established through a $1-million gift from David Mitzner and his son and daughter-in-law, Ira and Mindy, in honor of their late wife and mother, Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner.

The ceremony, attended by the extended Mitzner family and more than 400 members of the Houston community, was part of a weekend of activities in Houston sponsored by the Mitzner family. YU President Richard M. Joel presided over the investiture and later addressed the community; Rabbi Bednarsh, rosh yeshiva at YU’s RIETS Israel Kollel, delivered the Shabbat morning sermon and led a Torah study session.

“We could not have been more satisfied with how my mother’s memory was honored by the investiture and all of Yeshiva University’s presence during the weekend,” said Ira Mitzner, a 1981 alumnus of Yeshiva College and a lay leader in the Houston community.

In the early years of World War II, David Mitzner was a courier between the Russian and German zones, helping compatriots escape persecution from the Nazis. He was sent to a Siberian gulag after being caught and served eight years of hard labor before coming to America and establishing a successful real estate development business.

“David is the quintessential success story, both in his career and in terms of transmitting his heritage to the next generation, making sure that Judaism flourished both in his family and in the broader Jewish community,” said Rabbi Bednarsh, a former Beren Kollel and Wexner Graduate fellow at YU.

Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner, whose father was a renowned Torah scholar and the rabbi of the largest Orthodox synagogue in Harlem, grew up during the 1920s. She and her family later moved to Jerusalem, where her father assisted H’Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first chief rabbi of Palestine. During her life, Ruth dedicated herself to helping Jewish people throughout the world.

“I feel honored to continue the legacy of Ruth Mitzner by teaching Torah in Israel and preparing the next generation of rabbis to lead the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Bednarsh.

The weekend concluded with a YU community council meeting hosted by Shira Yoshor ’89S, vice chairman of the Stern College Board, discussing future YU involvement in Houston.

“The weekend was a fitting tribute to a family who represents communal leadership and philanthropy,” said Rabbi Richard C. Bieler ’74Y, R, B, YU senior executive director for community affairs. “Our time in Houston gave us a real sense of the Mitzners’ legacy and our responsibility to perpetuate that legacy.”

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