Metro Chicago Hillel brings Jewish wisdom to medical students and professionals

Leah Finkel
Dr. Leah (Panitch) Finkel , pictured with her mother, Dr. Silvia Panitch, at a Symposium).

"To Eat or Not to Eat:  Whose Decision, Whose Risk?" is the dilemma that Dr. Israel Rubinstein brings to the UIC College of Medicine Research Building, Room 8175, 909 S. Wolcott, Chicago, as part of the Hillel Jewish Medical Ethics Lunch & Learn on Thursday, March 21, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m. 

Physicians, medical students, and social workers can receive Continuing Medical/Professional Education credits. There is no charge to attend and all community members are welcome and encouraged to participate. Contributions and sponsorships are welcome to help ensure the continuation of the program.  

Dr. Rubinstein, professor of Medicine at the Jesse Brown VAMC and UIC, will present the case of a patient who needs nutrition, aspirates food into their lungs every time they eat by mouth, but refuses a feeding tube.  Rabbi Joseph Ozarowski, Chaplain, Jewish Healing Network, Jewish Child and Family Services, will provide the Jewish ethical response, followed by a lively discussion with students, faculty, and community members.

"Physicians often confront issues of quality of life, and death, on a daily basis," explains Dr. Howard S. Gordon, staff physician at the Jesse Brown VAMC, Associate Professor of Medicine at UIC, and the current Medical Director for the Jewish Medical Ethics Symposium.  "Jewish wisdom helps provide context for decisions at those times when medical science can't provide us with a straight-forward right or wrong answer or approach."  Past topics have ranged from "What is the Jewish perspective on length of life versus quality of life?" to issues such as "Should a physician who inadvertently learns through a DNA study that a father is not the father share this information with the family?" 

In keeping with the Hillel mission to engage Jewish students around their areas of special interest, Dr. Leah (Panitch) Finkel, now a second year Pediatric Resident at the University of Chicago, first started attending the Jewish Medical Ethics Symposia as an undergrad at UIC, and continued as a UIC Medical Student.  "I really enjoyed the symposia a lot.  There were always great speakers who were very thought provoking, difficult topics were well fleshed out from both a medical and a Jewish ethical perspective, and there were great networking opportunities.  And now I find that I use many of the concepts I learned about, in my current clinical practice. 

The Jewish Medical Ethics Symposia began some 18 years ago with a conversation between UIC Hillel Director Marla Baker and members of the UIC medical faculty including Dr. Jay L. Goldstein, the former Medical Director for the Symposium, who now serves as Vice Chairman of the Department of Medicine; Head, Division of Gastroenterology; Northshore University HealthSystem and a member if the Hillel Advisory Board.   

Dr. Goldstein explains how "the symposium was initially developed to expand the presence and outreach of the UIC Levine Hillel to the healthcare students on the UIC Medical Campus and to fill the void of Jewish education on the Medical Center. The growth of the program reflects the fact that that these opportunities were synergistic and dovetailed this educational forum to the level of continued success. Over the past 18 years, the range of topics has clearly helped physicians and students address the healthcare needs of their patients by teaching them how to critically think through important issues of medical ethics and Jewish medical ethics."

Metro Chicago Hillel provides students at Chicago urban campuses a strong Jewish campus base, enhanced opportunities to interact with peers across the city, and increased opportunities to explore their interests through a Jewish lens.  In addition to UIC, Metro Chicago Hillel serves students at Northeastern Illinois University, Illinois Institute of Technology, DePaul University, Loyola University, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, and the School of the Art Institute. 

For more information contact Marla Baker at (312) 829-1595 or email

Marla Baker is the executive director of Metro Chicago Hillel.

Sylvia Berman-Peck is senior director of development for The Hillels of Illionis

Metro Chicago Hillel, an integral part of The Hillels of Illinois, is a department of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and a partner of Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

Posted: 3/5/2013 11:29:10 AM

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