On Sunday, February 15, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society, Center for the Jewish Future, Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon, and Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon will partner to present a two-part program, “Taking Control: Ethical and halachic implications of BRCA screening and elective egg freezing.” The event is to take place at the Schottenstein Center on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus at 560 West 185th Street in Manhattan, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The first half of the program, “Testing for Cancer Risk in the Jewish Community: Medical and halachic perspectives,” will feature a discussion led by Dr. Edward Reichman, professor of emergency medicine and professor of education and bioethics at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. Nicole Schreiber-Agus, director of the Program for Jewish Genetic Health. Reichman and Schreiber-Agus will provide halachic and medical insight into the prevalence of BRCA gene mutations in Ashkenazi Jewry and the ways that genetic testing and counseling can reduce the risk of carriers developing certain cancers in the future.
The second part of the program, “Oocyte Cryopreservation: Freezing eggs, new technologies to help single women and cancer patients,” will take a close look at the painful question of whether Orthodox Jewish women who may not be able to have children later in life–whether because of illness, future cancer treatments, or marriages close to or beyond menopause–should take advantage of a new medical technique called oocyte cryopreservation, which enables women to freeze their eggs and maintain the potential for the future conception of a child. As cryopreservation technologies are constantly being innovated and improved, Rabbi Dr. Zalman Levine, the director of the Fertility Institute of New York and New Jersey, and Rabbi Kenneth Brander, an expert in reproductive technology bioethics and halachah in addition to his position as vice president for university and community life at YU, will give an overview of the emerging halachic discussions that arise in this ever-changing field.
“As the BRCA mutation incidence rate is higher within the Jewish population and as our beliefs highlight the importance of childbearing, it is vital that we come together as a religious community to discuss these issues and what we can do” about them, said Yitzy Mayefsky, president of the Medical Ethics Society. “At Yeshiva University we have the distinct privilege of being associated with leading experts in medicine and halachah, so we have the means and responsibility to educate ourselves regarding issues that can pose a threat to our lives and our families and what our religious doctrine has to say about the solutions.”
“The true ideal of Torah Umadda is to be able to confront new technology that can be lifesaving and life-producing through the prism of Jewish values,” said Rabbi Brander. “Our Medical Ethics Society allows our students to ponder these issues and create media through which these ideas can be discussed and deliberated upon.”
Register online at yu.convio.net/medicalethics.