Alumnus Profile: Dr. Jonathan Wiesen ’99YUHSB, ’05YC, ’09E
One might say Yeshiva University runs in Dr. Jonathan Wiesen’s veins. Not only did he come up through the ranks, so to speak, from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys to Albert Einstein College for Medicine, but he is also one of several family members connected to YU, including his wife, father, two brothers, two sisters and his brother-in-law, Rabbi Yair Hindin, who currently serves as the rabbi of the Albert Einstein Synagogue at Einstein.
As an undergraduate at Yeshiva College, Wiesen studied both English literature and biology. “I have always liked both the sciences and literature,” he said. “I thought I might become a teacher; I even took a year off after graduation to teach—but that experience showed me that I should become a doctor.”
It was also at Yeshiva College that Wiesen became interested in medical ethics, studying the area with Rabbi Moshe Tendler, Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and Professor of Biology, an interest he continued to pursue later as a student at Einstein: “As an Orthodox Jew, I am always trying to figure out what the religion demands of us in ethical situations,” said Wiesen. To that end, he worked with Rabbi Dr. Alex Mondrow and Rabbi Dr. Howard Apfel to collect, edit, and publish a compendium of articles on Judeo-Christian medical ethics, titled And You Shall Surely Heal, released in 2009.
After graduating medical school the same year, he worked at the Cleveland Clinic until 2015, completing a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care. During that time, he served on the Clinic’s Medical Ethics Committee and completed the Clinic’s graduate teaching degree, “Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn.”
But something stirred Wiesen to move beyond his considerable success, and late last year he did something he had always wanted to do: he and his family moved to the city of Efrat in Israel, a combination of what he humorously calls “idealism and insanity.” But the idealism won out over the insanity, and he is glad that he made the transition.
These days, as he works as an academic pulmonologist at Ben Gurion University, where he sees patients in the hospital and teaches medical students and residents. Wiesen is also involved in something completely different from his training: OurCrowd, a unique venture capital crowdfunding platform for investors from around the world to invest in hand-picked Israeli startups. One day a week, he uses his health industry contacts both in Israel and the United States to connect interested parties to health systems and physician networks.
Though admittedly a physician rather than a financial analyst by trade, he does this work because of his great love for his newly adopted country and his desire to accelerate Israel’s financial success.
“Diplomacy can only go so far,” said Wiesen. “If we can get individuals and companies to invest in Israel and see the value of our ‘Start Up Nation,’ we can use those relationships and connections as a basis for building the country’s international standing.”
As a physician, Wiesen also tries to get his fellow medical professional involved in telemedicine, using phone and video-conferencing tools to provide medical service from a distance. He does this to improve Israeli doctors’ incomes by helping them provide national and international assistance at rates higher than what they are paid in the country.
Wiesen points out that YU gave him the opportunity to drive himself “beyond God’s gifts” because he could always find mentors and leaders who were doing the same in their own disciplines, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and wisdom. “I was always looking for whoever or whatever would make me take the next step,” he said, even when it was in a field of study unrelated to his main pursuits. Learning new methods, new insights, and new points of view at YU fed Wiesen’s “drive to excel,” a drive that has helped him build a rich and meaningful life and career.