Covid, Triage, and Jewish Ethics
A Virtual Session on Medical Ethics
Presented by JTS’s Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice
In the coming months we hope that an effective Covid vaccine will be approved, but it may take months to produce mass quantities. Who should receive priority status for the early batches? Front line health workers? People with high risk factorss? The elderly? Politicians?
The ethical dilemma of triage can be divisive. What does Judaism teach about deciding who shall live and who shall die? Our distinguished panel explores these timely issues.
Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School and Dean of the Division of Religious Leadership, JTS, and member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly. (View Rabbi Nevins’s presentation)
Dr. Toby Schonfeld, Executive Director, National Center for Ethics in Health Care, and member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly.
Dr. Yonatan Brafman, Academic Director for the Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice and Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics, JTS.
About the Speakers
Rabbi Daniel Nevins represents JTS on the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism and the Executive Council, Joint Placement Commission, and Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly. He has written responsa on the halakhic topics of personal status, disabilities, bioethics, technology, and homosexuality. His responsa may be read at the CJLS website and on his personal web page, rabbinevins.com. Rabbi Nevins began his work at JTS in July 2007, after serving for 13 years as rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan. During those years, Rabbi Nevins led numerous organizations, serving as president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, the Farmington Area Interfaith Association, and the Michigan region of the Rabbinical Assembly. He was also a founding board member and faculty member at the Frankel Academy of Metropolitan Detroit. Rabbi Nevins led many trips to Israel, including family and teen missions, solidarity trips, and an interfaith clergy tour of Rome and Israel in 2005. He has lectured across the United States and served as faculty for the Wexner Heritage Foundation’s summer institute.
Dr. Toby Schonfeld joined the National Center for Ethics in Health Care as executive director in March 2020. Prior to this appointment, she directed Prime Review Board, where she was responsible for the oversight, maintenance, and improvement of the Human Research Protection Program. Dr. Schonfeld previously served as NCEHC’s deputy director then as acting executive director from 2016 to 2018. Before these positions, she served as the Human Subjects Research Review Official at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In that role, she was responsible for the oversight of all human subjects research conducted or supported by the agency, and for the Human Studies Review Board, a Federal Advisory Committee established by regulation to review third-party human subjects research submitted to the EPA for consideration. She also has 13 years of experience in academic medicine, serving as faculty in two different medical schools and directing a variety of programs in each. Dr. Schonfeld is a national leader in bioethics, with over 50 national and international presentations and 75 publications.
Dr. Yonatan Brafman‘s research focuses on the intersection of Jewish thought, Jewish law, and contemporary moral and legal philosophy. He also studies the implications of religious practice for critical social theory and praxis. He has published or has forthcoming articles on these topics in the Journal of Religious Ethics and Diné Israel, Studies in Halakhah and Jewish Law. He is coeditor, with Leora Batnitzky, of an anthology titled Jewish Legal Theories. He is currently working on a manuscript titled Critical Philosophy of Halakha. He holds a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Jewish Thought from the Department of Religion at Columbia University, where he also received his BA, MA, and MPhil. He has held fellowships in the Department of Religion and Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University (2014–2015), the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization at New York University Law School (2012–2013), and the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University (2008–2010). He has taught philosophy of religion and Jewish thought and ethics at Princeton University, Columbia University, Yeshivat Hadar, and Yeshivat HaKotel.