Jewish Medical Ethics
The Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem opened its doors in 1902 with the goals of providing the finest medical treatment, offering care to all, and ensuring the observance of halacha (Jewish law) within the hospital. Throughout its more than one hundred years of operation, Shaare Zedek has faithfully lived up to these ideals.
The Dr. Falk Schlesinger Institute for Medical Halachic Research was founded in 1966 under the auspices of Shaare Zedek in the spirit of Torah im derech eretz, imbuing our professional pursuits with the spirit of Torah. This was the philosophy of the hospital’s second director-general, after whom the Institute is named, and it remains the Institute’s guiding principle.
The Schlesinger Institute is dedicated to the halachic approach to medical ethics. Through the scholarship and expertise of leading rabbis, doctors and others, the Institute aims to research and resolve the halachic issues that emerge as medicine progresses, to consider their medical, halachic, legal and ethical ramifications, and to present practical responses.
The Schlesinger Institute offers a variety of religious and academic programs in Jewish medical ethics, enabling diverse audiences and student groups to learn from some of the most prominent Jewish medical ethicists of our time. Among these programs are a thirty-hour semester course at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, summer and winter seminars for medical and nursing students from abroad, lectures and tours of Shaare Zedek for yeshiva and seminary students, and one-day seminars (yemei iyun) on selected topics for Israeli high school pupils.
When a medical procedure raises ethical or moral questions that seem to contradict halacha, advice from a reliable source is needed. The International Responsa Project provides this service to people all over the world who send us questions — some of a very general, theoretical nature and some of a very specific, technical nature — via telephone, e-mail, fax and post. They are answered as quickly as possible by one of the rabbi-doctors at the Institute.
Significant contributions to the halachic approach to medical ethics are made at the international conferences organized by the Schlesinger Institute. These conferences bring together rabbis, doctors and others from around the world for lectures on contemporary medical halachic issues given by world-renowned experts. Conference proceedings and background materials have been published in both English and Hebrew and are available for purchase through the Institute.
The Library and Information Center is one of the premier resource center for Jewish medical ethics in Israel. All the standard texts of the Jewish library can be found here, as well as compendiums of halacha, medical and Jewish journals, and legal texts. Computer facilities, a database of Jewish sources, and a bibliography of the library are available to the public.
A number of important books on Jewish medical ethics are available through the Schlesinger Institute. We also publish two prestigious journals, Assia (Hebrew) and ASSIA-Jewish Medical Ethics (English).