Authors Forum to Address “Religion—Politics, Policy, Power”

Part I: Stem Cells, Universal Health Care and Physician Assisted Suicide

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

February 12, 2008, New York, NY

“Authors Forum: Religion—Politics, Policy, Power,” a three-part series sponsored by The Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 with a discussion on “Stem Cells: Universal Health Care and Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Jewish View.” The program will take place at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City.

The series will explore both Jewish and general issues, including: Jewish contributions and challenges to public policy on health care and biomedical research—how should Jews, guided by tradition, think about universal health care, stem cells or physician assisted suicide?; Jewish political success and failure—how have Jews coped with non-Jewish power in the diaspora and their own political power in Israel?; and the tangled role of religion in shaping the democratic politics of the modern West—what are the sources of our current confusion over the role of faith in American politics?

The discussion on stem cells will feature Dr. David Novak, author of The Sanctity of Human Life (Georgetown University Press), with Rabbi Joel Roth, Louis Finkelstein Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law at JTS, as respondent.

Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies, professor of the Study of Religion, and professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, Dr. Novak serves as secretary-treasurer of the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York City and is on the editorial board of its journal, First Things. The author of thirteen books, he is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the Academy for Jewish Philosophy.

A renowned expert in halakhah (Jewish law), Rabbi Roth served on the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for twenty-eight years, including a period of eight years as chairman. In addition to articles and responsa for the committee, which sets halakhic policy for Rabbinical Assembly rabbis and for the Conservative movement as a whole, Rabbi Roth has written The Halakhic Process: A Systemic Analysis and Sefer ha-Mordecai: Tractate Kiddushin. Rabbi Roth also serves as the chair of the Departments of Talmud and Hebrew Language at JTS and as Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The series will continue on March 27 with “Jews and Political Power” and conclude on April 10 with “Has the God of Liberalism Failed?” Since 1938, The Finkelstein Institute has maintained an innovative interfaith and inter-group relations program that advances dialogue among diverse communities about matters at the intersection of religion and public affairs.

Admission is free; reservations are required. For further information or to RVSP, please call (212) 280-6093 or email Attendees are requested to have photo IDs available and arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the program to allow sufficient time for registration.