The Idea
The first International Yarchei Kallah on Medical Halacha, held in Jerusalem during August 1998, offered physicians a rare opportunity to grapple with the development of Jewish bioethics from the original sources.


YARCHEI KALLAH PARTICIPANTS -1998

For one week, over a dozen physicians from abroad, together with Israeli physicians and 15 rabbinical students specializing in medical Halacha, delved into complex and challenging medical ethics issues from a Jewish perspective.

The Yarchei Kallah was the brainchild of Rav Yaakov Weiner, shlita, Dean of the Jerusalem Center for Research - Halacha and Medicine, and Dr. Leon Zacharowicz an American neurologist with a profound interest in Jewish medical ethics.

The program was conducted in a yeshiva format. Each physician was paired with a chevruta (a learning partner) from the Jerusalem Center for Research kollel, with whom they studied relevant material from original sources to prepare for each shiur (halachic lecture).

Dealing with Difficult Ethical Issues
Topics for discussion included the treatment of life- and non-life threatening illnesses on Shabbat and Yom Kippur, and the treatment of the terminally ill. Participants grappled with varying views of the permissibility of pain-relieving measures which might potentially shorten a patient's life. The Jewish view of suffering and the inherent value of life itself as opposed to the secular notion of the quality of life were developed from biblical and Talmudic sources. Animated discussions developed around lectures concerning the definition of brain death and determining the precise moment of death.

Dramatic changes in reproductive technology have major implications for observant doctors and patients. Complex issues such as in-vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, cloning, fetal reduction and other controversial topics were also analyzed through the prism of Halacha.

Outstanding Shiurim
Thought-provoking shiurim were presented by distinguished poskim and physicians such as:

Rav Moshe Sternbuch, , Av Beit Din (Chief Judge of the Rabbinical Court) of the Eida HaHareidit of Jerusalem

Rav Yehoshua Neuwirth of Jerusalem

Rav Yitzhak Zilberstein of Bnei Brak

Rav Simcha Bunim Lazerson of Jerusalem

Rav Shmuel Jacobovitz of Jerusalem

Professor Meyer Gottesman, Chief of Cardiology, Hadassah Medical Center

Professor Moshe Dickman, Professor of Neurology, Hadassah Medical Center

Rav Weiner delivered a number of shiurim and presented several chidushim (novellae) as potential solutions to intriguing problems that were raised during the Yarchei Kallah.

The program included a visit with Rav Y. S. Elyashiv shlita, who is widely considered the foremost halachic decisor of our generation (posek hador).

The program is accredited for continuing medical education credits from Einstein Medical School, New York.

Registration for upcoming Yarchei Kallah:

The First Annual West Coast Yarchei Kallah on Medicine and Halacha

The Third Annual Midwest Medical Ethics Yarchei Kallah

For additional information concerning these and other Jerusalem Center programs, please contact us.


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