Prescribing for a Nation

Student Medical Ethics Society Present Oct. 20 Conference Exploring Interplay of Jewish Law and Israeli Health Care 

Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will present its eighth annual Fuld Family conference, titled “Prescribing for a Nation: Examining the Interplay of Jewish Law and Israeli Health Care”, on Sunday, October 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at YU’s Wilf Campus, 500 West 185th Street, New York, NY.

The conference will explore the ways in which Israeli medical institutions utilize Jewish law to form national policy as well as several important ethical and halachic questions that emerge from practicing medicine in Israel.

Professor Yonatan Halevy, director general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center and a key figure in the formation of Israel’s national medical policy, will open the conference with a keynote address on how decisions are made and ethical dilemmas are resolved in the Israeli health care System.

Additional topics of discussion will include the treatment of injured prisoners and violently anti-Israel persons, research and medical training in Israel, and the halachic issues surrounding fertility treatments, organ donation and shabbat care.

“With health care policy in the United States evolving right before our eyes, we are all interested to learn how Israeli institutions tackle the same, difficult questions,” said Chana Herzig, a senior at Stern College for Women and co-president of MES.

“As Jewish medical practitioners, we take on a heightened level of responsibility.  It is important for us to learn how medical policy is developed through the prism of halakha in the Jewish State so that we can transform our own, individual decision-making processes appropriately.”

A highlight of the conference will be a plenary session on Israeli methods of responding to medical crises and terror attacks featuring Dr. Mitchell Schwabber, director of the National Center for Infection Control at the Israel Ministry of Health and a staff physician of Israel’s renowned mobile trauma hospital in Haiti, and Dr. Michel Frogel, president elect of American Physicians and Friends for Medicine in Israel.  A representative from ZAKA and Rabbi Yosef Blau, YU senior mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor] will also participate in the session.

“Our hope is that this year’s MES conference will help participants better understand how halkha shapes every aspect of our lives and provides them with a newfound appreciation for the differences and similarities of the practice of medicine in Israel and America,” said Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, conference chairman, mentor of the MES program and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The conference’s impressive list of speakers also includes Rabbi Kenneth Brander, YU vice president for university and community life and the David Mitzner Dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future; Rabbi Zvi Gluck, chief executive officer of ZAKA; Mark J. Kurzmann, Esq., legal advisor to ZAKA; Yitzchak Shalita, member of the IDF Search and Rescue Team and a longtime Magen Dovid Adom and ZAKA volunteer; and Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rosh Yeshiva at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).

MES, a student-run organization developed and under the guidance of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, was founded in 2005 to promote education and awareness of medical ethics on campus. In just a few short years, it has grown from a small student group into a major campus organization running large-scale events and educational programming with University-wide participation.  Previous MES conferences have dealt with organ donation, fertility, modern genetics, Jewish approaches to complex mental health issues, and medical dilemmas borne out of the Holocaust.

The conference is open to the public but pre-event registration is required. For more information or to register, please visit or contact