Abstracts Sunday, December 24th

Abstracts Sunday, December 24th

Rabbi Avroham Steinberg, Halakha and Abortion – Reading the Sources


 Dr. Vera Schwarcz Historical trauma from across cultural perspective/Jews of China

History is the joint language of pain, the crucible of peoplehood. Cicero. Forgetfulness leads to exile, remembrance leads to redemption. Baal Shem Tov

What do survivors of the Shoah and of the Chinese Cultural Revolution have in common? On the one hand, nothing at all given the disparate magnitude of the events and the fact that there was (“officially”) no genocidal plan against intellectuals in China. And yet scars of mind and spirit illuminate pain across the landscape of Chinese and Jewish history and allow us to see how Torah Judaism and certain Confucian values helped survivors to endure as well as to heal.

This paper will draw directly from the comparative research I have been doing on memory and trauma for three decades as well as upon a new book project  centered on the life of Rebbetzin Chaya Walkin Small, who was a child refugee in Kobe and in Shanghai during the Holocaust.  The goal is to explore internal resources, both cultural and individual, that account for surviving trauma with dignity and even hope. In disparate ways, Chinese and Jewish traditions provide tools for remembrance and for the articulation of suffering that may be used to challenge conventional Western definitions of historical trauma.

Listening to voices of survivors requires something very different from the stony memorials into which we have consigned so many broken lives both in China and in the West. The din of atrocities remains, alas, deafening in our contemporary world. What is missing in the public discourse is the kol d’mama daka—the soft, nearly- silent whisper of empathetic understanding which allows the sharing of pain.

Instead of viewing historical trauma as a burdensome predicament, a cross cultural study can reveal it to be the glue of genuine peoplehood. Marcus Cicero intuited this opportunity obliquely in the late Roman times, while the Hassidic master Baal Shen Tov deemed it central to a redemptive of vision of the past precisely during the anti-historical European Enlightenment of the 18th century.  How to build upon these pioneers of conscientious remembrance remains a key challenge in our own times.


Dr. Norman Goldwasser, Ph.D. The neurobiology of Trauma: clinic and innovative treatment considerations

In this presentation, the political issues revolving the treatment of unwanted sexual orientation resulting from early trauma will be discussed, including areas such as changeability vs immutability of sexual orientation, protecting individual civil rights vs. collective minority rights, clinical realities vs political agendas, trauma theory vs genetic heritability, complexity of sexuality vs absolute thinking, and Torah Values vs. Secular Liberalism. Trauma with regards to the development and derailment of sexual orientation will be discussed, as well as the differentiation between trauma therapy and reparative therapy. Treatment options, especially EMDR, as well as other aspects of treatment will then be addressed. Finally, the importance of evaluating and treating comorbid disorders, will be addressed, in addition to the importance of the issue in general to the Orthodox community.


Rabbi Chaim Miller Consequences of traumatic events from a Torah perspective and the role of free will


Dr. Arthur Agaston M.D. and Dr. Alan Rozanski M.D.  Behavioral cardiology, neurology