July 14, 2024
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SAR High School Welcomes Dr. Edward Reichman

On Friday, November 30, Dr. Ed Reichman spoke to the entire ninth grade on the topic of “Stem Cell Research, Cloning and Jewish Law.” Dr. Reichman is professor of emergency medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he teaches Jewish medical ethics. He began by discussing cases in history in which a new medical advance raised halachic questions and emphasized that the relationship between science and Torah did not begin in the 20th century, but rather hundreds of years ago. The students were intrigued to hear the she’elot that were asked when smallpox inoculations first began, and about the life and death decisions that were made by the rabbanim. Dr. Reichman then brought the students to the present day, showed a picture of himself suited up to treat Ebola patients and discussed with them halachic questions that arise in situations today when a patient has a deadly disease. He discussed with them the recent outbreak of measles in certain segments of the charedi community both in Monsey and in Israel and showed them a sign that had been put up at a pidyon haben in Israel in which anyone who had not been vaccinated against measles was instructed not to enter the room. The students were fascinated by his presentation and asked many questions of their own.

Finally, Dr. Reichman explored the halachic questions raised by stem cell research and the way in which the Jewish laws in this area have been developed. Dr. Reichman pointed out to the students the major role that Israel has played in advances in stem cell research, the fascinating piskei halacha that relate to the permissibility of doing stem cell research with particular embryos and finally, he discussed the great potential that stem cell research offers. He showed them a transplanted trachea that had been covered with a patient’s own stem cells to reduce the need for immunosuppressive drugs and an artificial uterus in which a fetal lamb was developing.

Dr. Reichman gave the students a real sense that what they are learning about in biology is being carried out actively in research labs and being grappled with in halachic discussions. This presentation was a true example of the Grand Conversation in which students saw how Judaic and secular studies intersect in this very cutting edge area of science. Dr. Reichman loved the excellent questions that the students asked and told them how much he enjoys coming to speak to the SAR students each year because of how knowledgeable they are and the insightful questions they ask.

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