Sacred Training: A Halakhic Guidebook for Medical Students and Residents

Drs. Karp And Schaikewitz Publish New Book For Medical Students And Residents

Sacred training book coverDr. Jerry Karp ’11YC, ’18E and Dr. Matthew Schaikewitz ’11YC, ’15E recently published Sacred Training: A Halakhic Guidebook for Medical Students and Residents. The book addresses many of the halachic questions facing medical students during training.

“We found many topics that were hard to find discussed in currently published medical halacha [Jewish law] books,” Dr. Karp noted. “Should students recite the Hippocratic Oath? Can someone who has to attend clerkships in the hospital on Tishah B’Av (fast on the ninth of Av) sit down during rounds? Am I allowed to pass a surgical instrument to the attending performing a prohibited sterilization procedure in the operating room? May I intubate a deceased patient in order to learn the proper technique?” These and other questions are explored in this important book.

The authors aim to provide the reader with both the practical halachic knowledge they need to know as well as the background that will help them understand the topics better. “We do not include halachic rulings in the book; rather, we hope that the reader will be better informed so that he or she can have a more informed and productive discussion with a halachic advisor,” said Dr. Karp.

An entire section of the book is devoted to working on Shabbat in the hospital. “We, and many of our fellow students, found that there were few resources available for learning about the momentous topic of whether one can work in the hospital on Shabbat, and for those who do ultimately work in the hospital on Shabbat, there was a need for updated resources guiding them regarding how to navigate the halachic concerns that arise.”

The book includes contributions from 19 writers, 18 of whom are graduates of Yeshiva University. Six have semicha [rabbinic ordination] from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Part of what makes this book unique is that the authors are almost entirely medical school graduates who have experienced the situations that they are writing about. The authors hope to guide future generations of medical students and residents through these same experiences.

“Our principal message is that medical school and residency can be a challenging time, especially with regard to navigating halacha, but we hope that reading this book will give students and residents the necessary tools to navigate these issues,” said Dr. Karp.