Friday, February 4, 2011

Rabbi to speak on bioethics

Dr. Analia Bortz to speak in Ketchum Monday

Express Staff Writer

Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz

Recent advances in medical science have brought about a revolution in creating and extending human lives. But these technological advances raise ethical as well as religious issues regarding the sanctity of human life.

Parents unable to conceive children through ordinary means are increasingly turning to artificial insemination for help. Those facing end-of-life care decisions have the medical means to both prolong life and abruptly end it.

Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz will speak on these issues as they relate to the Jewish faith on Monday, Feb. 7, at 9:30 a.m. at the Wood River Jewish Community Center, 471 Leadville Ave. in Ketchum, and at 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 201 Sun Valley Rd.

Bortz, a resident of Atlanta, Ga., founded Seeds of Hope, an organization that deals with couples struggling with fertility issues, focusing on a holistic view of the body and spirit. A senior rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Bortz is involved in research in Jewish ethical and legal aspects of embryonic stem-cell research and on genetic disorders prevalent in the Jewish community.

Bortz will answer the questions "When does ensoulment begin?" and "How can we take advantage of stem-cell research?" She will also discuss genetic predispositions that some Jewish populations have to certain diseases, such as Joubert syndrome.

In addition to her medical studies, Bortz researches the Bible, the Talmud and other sources to find instruction on how to proceed in the era of modern health care.

"These are the most important questions," Bortz said. "It's one thing to make something up, but the Talmud is the source of Jewish law and background."

Bortz was the first Latin American woman to be ordained as a rabbi. Her ordination is from Beth midrash L'limudey Yahadut in Jerusalem and Seminario Rabinico Latino Americano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her M.D. degree is from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, and her Ph.D. in medical ethics is from the Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile.

"I enjoy merging my vocation as a rabbi, a medical doctor and a bioethicist," Bortz said. "My background allows me to see the human soul-body as a holistic concept, [and] to approach members of my congregation, students as well as patients, with an open mind.

Bortz's talks are free and open to the public.

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