Vatican names first Israeli rabbi as adviser

Two rabbis, including Israeli Abraham Steinberg, join the Vatican's Pontifical Academy advisory committee.

June 27, 2017 17:01
1 minute read.
pope francis easter

Pope Francis waves as he delivers a "Urbi et Orbi" message at the Vatican April 5, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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For the first time, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy – whose aim is to develop multidisciplinary discussions in the mirror of Christian ethics – has named an Israeli rabbi to its advisory committee.

Pediatric neurologist and Jewish medical ethics expert Rabbi Prof. Abraham Steinberg – director of the medical ethics unit at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the recipient of the Israel Prize for Torah Literature – has been appointed by Pope Francis to the important body, which until recently had been a “closed club” that did not include non-Catholic scientists.

Last week, the Vatican published the names of 45 “ordinary” members and five other members of the advisory committee of the Pontifical Academy of Life Sciences. Its members include scientists, professors, experts in religious and secular medicine and ethics from 27 countries.

Surprisingly, for the first time in history, two rabbis – Steinberg and Argentinean Prof. Fernando Szlajen – were invited to join.

Steinberg is an expert on medical ethics who authored the Jewish religious law-based – or halachic – encyclopedia for Jewish medical ethics. He is also director of Yad Harav Herzog publishing group, head of the editorial board of the Talmudic Encyclopedia and chairman of the ethics and control committee of Shaare Zedek along with medical genetics head Prof. Efrat Levy-Lahad.

Szlajen is director of the cultural department of the Jewish community of Buenos Aires and philosophy lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires.

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