Abstracts Saturday, December 23rd

Abstracts Saturday, December 23rd

Professor Avraham Steinberg M.D. DNA Identification – Halakhic perspectives

 DNA structure is unique to every individual. Hence, it can serve as an ID of a person for many circumstances that require to identify a specific person. In my presentation I shall discuss the reliability of DNA identification from a scientific as well as from Halakhic standpoints. The specific circumstances where clear and certain identification of a person is required are the following:

  • Fatherhood
  • Motherhood
  • Brotherhood
  • A dead person
  • Parts of a dead person
  • Forensic medicine
  • Kohen
  • Jewishness

Each of these categories have far-reaching Halakhic consequences.


Dr. John D. Loike and Professor Rabbi Moshe Tendler M.D. Patient Autonomy: a bioethical principle but a halachic dilemma.

The potential success of organ transplantation to over 100,000 candidates is undergoing a revolutionary change due, in part, to new biotechnologies such as xenotransplantation and gene editing platforms. One technology is the creation of a human organ within an animal embryo that will be used in organ transplantation. Pigs are a prime kidney transplant donor because their kidneys are approximately the same size as human kidneys. A critical medical ethical challenge that emerges from this and other new biotechnologies is the patient’s right to make an autonomous decision.  In this presentation, we describe the potential medical impact that these new biotechnologies will have on organ transplantation. We then present the following halachic issues related to analyzing organ transplantation: When does the patient have the right to engage in potentially risky unproven medical treatments? When does a patient have the right to refuse treatment? How should halachic and medical authorities appropriately educate the patient about engaging in these new complex biotechnologies? How should a fully informed consent document be written? Finally, what are parameters to enable a family member to serve as a healthcare surrogate for organ transplantation?


Dr. Tudor Parfitt Genetic Anthropology and Jewish identity