More than 100 physicians, including many junior doctors, attended a Medical Halacha Conference organised by Drs David Landau and Jacob Opat in November 2011. The main guest visitor, Rabbi Prof Avraham Steinberg took part in all three main symposia, on Organ Donation, End of Life and General themes respectively. He also lectured on Friday morning on Complementary Medicine, and delivered a very well-attended public lecture to a lay audience on Friday night covering “Halachic Issues in Childbirth and the Newborn”. Speakers from the UK included Prof Antony Warrens, Prof Daniel Hochhauser, Prof David Katz and Rabbi Akiva Tatz. There were study sessions on Friday and Sunday mornings about aspects of Jewish Law relating to medicine.
Following this conference Prof Steinberg met with the chairs of BMA and GMC Ethics Committees, together with senior UK medical ethics experts and representatives of the Muslim and Catholic Medical Associations, at the Board of Deputies offices. At this meeting he described how the Israeli End of Life law, known colloquially as the “Steinberg Law”, had been developed. Later the same day he met with Sir Peter Simpson and Prof Gurch Randhawa from the UK Organ Donation Ethics Committee. Finally he gave a lecture on the topic of “Recent Developments in Jewish Medical Ethics – the Israeli Experience”. In this talk he outlined four examples of how Israeli law on such issues has developed over the years taking cognisance of both medical and halachic concerns.
Following on the success of the conference Drs Landau and Opat have already convened a meeting to arrange a follow – up event in 2012. The intention is that this will include a symposium at a central London venue on the Wednesday evening before the conference in order to attract as wide a medical audience as possible.