Medicine and Morals class offered by Jewish Learning Institute

Posted Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
The Rice Thresher

Online only: Medicine and Morals class offered by Jewish Learning Institute

By: Molly Chiu

Posted: 10/29/10

Should doctors be genetically engineering babies? Should they proceed with clinical trials at the risk of a patient's life? Should a doctor be able to force lifesaving but painful treatment on a patient? Medicine and Morals: Your Jewish Guide Through Life's Tough Decisions hopes to answer these questions and more through lessons from the Torah and modern Western ethics. 

The class is provided by the Jewish Learning Institute and is offered at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center in classroom 160B. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. for six weeks, starting Oct. 26. Each of the six classes will cover a different issue of ethics in modern medicine, including patient autonomy, assisted reproduction, patient confidentiality, mental illnesses, organ donation and medical experimentation. 

Rabbi Yitzchok Schmukler, the Associate Director at Chabad House, a local religious organization designed to help Jews get in touch with their faith, will be instructing the course. He said it is important for Rice students to start learning about medical ethics now.

"Everyone deals at some point in their life with tough medical decisions," Schmukler said. "We can't explore these questions at the last minute."

Schmukler, who has been teaching courses through JLI for the past 10 years, worked together with the JLI and Chabad Jewish Student Life, a newly established Jewish student club on campus, to make this course available to Rice students.

Vice President of Chabad Jewish Student Life Ariel Gold said she thinks this course fits in well at Rice.

"Rice students are ever-curious and constantly step outside the bounds of their academic concentration seeking to impact and assist others," Gold, a Wiess College junior, said. "This class is perfect for students who have already cultivated an interest in medicine and want to tackle the issues they know will arise in their futures or students who are simply interested in looking at questions of ethics in a new field."

Schmukler said the class will be helpful to students later in life.

"Students are starting out on their self-life," Schmukler said. "[This course] provides students with a unique and valuable insight into tough moral and ethical problems through an ancient tradition." 

Schmukler said the class is open to students of all faiths and beliefs.

"We are exploring fundamental ideas of ethics," Schmukler said. 

Enrollment in Medicine and Morals: The Jewish Guide Through Life's Tough Decisions costs $18 to cover textbook fees. Students interested in the class should register online at or by calling 713-522-2004.
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