Tenth Dr. Morry S. Fox
Miami International Torah
& Science Conference
"Beginnings, Endings & Renewals: Conversations Between Torah Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge about the Universe, Human life and the Mind"

2013 Presenters

Professor Nathan Aviezer

Professor Barry
Baumel, MD

Professor Joseph Bodenheimer

Professor Daniel Drubach

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Professor Nathan Katz

Professor Yakir
Kaufman, MD

Rabbi Barry M. Kinzbrunner, MD

Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar

Professor John D. Loike

Professor Vera Schwarcz

Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, MD

Rabbi Professor Moshe Dovid Tendler

Professor Jason Wolfe

The 2009 Miami International Conference on Torah and Science in Retrospect

Israel Government Minister of Science and Technology; Designer Babies; and Jewish Experiences with China, India, and Islam at the Eighth Miami International Conference on Torah and Science

The Eighth Miami International Torah and Science Conference was held at The Shul of Bal Harbour, 9540 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida on December 17-20, 2009. The organizers—Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar of The Shul, Professor Nathan Katz of the Florida International University, and Ilana Attia of the B’Or Ha’Torah Journal of Science, Life and Art in the Light of the Torah—provided four stimulating days on the theme of Judaism at the Cutting Edge of Medicine, Genetics, Physics, and Culture.

Guest of honor for the conference was Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkowitz. A community rabbi, prize-winning professor of mathematics at the Haifa Technion, chairman of the Bayit Ha’Yehudi political party, and member of the Knesset, Hershkowitz is Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology and a charismatic speaker. In his keynote address he used the applications of mathematical stability in rocket technology and other forms of engineering to explain the enigma of why G-d implants an evil inclination in the soul of every human being. He also gave two inspiring talks at the conference shabbaton. To a packed synagogue, Rabbi Hershkowitz compared the opposing views of the schools of Hillel and Shamai on whether we should increase or decrease the number of candles we light every night of Hanukkah with the findings of Israeli Nobel laureate scientists Ada Yonat, and Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko. Whereas Yonat discovered the structure of the ribosome that constantly creates new protein in cells, Ciechanover and Hershko discovered the Ubiquitin System that marks old proteins for destruction. Although Jewish law goes by Hillel’s ruling, we need Shamai’s point of view also, just as all cells need both the creation of new cells and the destruction of old ones.

The host and main organizer of the conference, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar culled his deep understanding of Hasidism and knowledge of physics literature to—among other challenges—ingeniously tackle the question: into what is the Big Bang universe expanding? The constant process of yesh me-ayin (creatio ex nihilo) is the answer.

Research Professor of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Bar Ilan University physicist Nathan Aviezer clearly explained the purpose of the $10 billion particle accelerator in Geneva and why Maimonides would sanction its search for new heavier particles.

In a delightful Friday morning session, Professor Nathan Katz (co-organizer of the conference and head of the Center for the Study of Spirituality at Florida International University), Professor Vera Schwarcz(the Freeman Chair of History and East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University), and Professor Zion Zohar (Director of the President Navon Program for the Study of Sephardic and Oriental Jewry at FIU) intrigued the audience with their interpretations of the interaction of Jews and Judaism with China, India, and Islam.

The medical miracles and ethical dilemmas of genetically “designing” babies were discussed and argued in detail in the Saturday night session presented by neurologist Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, MD (winner of the Israel Prize for his many achievements, including authoring the Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics and serving as chief editor of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, pediatric neurologist at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, director of Yad Harav Herzog, and professor of medical ethics at the Hebrew University); Yeshiva University biologist and rosh yeshivah Rabbi Professor Moshe Dovid Tendler; and Professor John Loike (co-director of graduate studies of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and the director of special projects of the Center for Bioethics of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons). In the question and answer period at the end of this session issues were raised requiring the expertise and sensitivity of these three exceptional halakhic and scientific personalities.

In the closing session on Sunday morning Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, MD explained the halakhic perspectives of recent health legislation in Israel, focusing on the Treatment of the Dying Patient Law passed by the Knesset in 2005. With characteristic modesty, Steinberg brushed aside his monumental role as chair of the 59-member committee that met for two years to draft this innovative complex legislation that both honors halakhah and the specific wishes of families. The long question and answer session with Steinberg could have gone on for many more hours.

The written papers of the conference will be published in future volumes of B’Or Ha’Torah.

Rabbi Lipskar plans to make Jewish geriatrics (a field in which he has done pioneering work) the main topic of the next conference in 2011.


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