Yeshiva University Medical Ethics Society

Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society

One heartbeat, surrounded by three six-pointed stars of David. The numbers six, one, and three, represent the six hundred and thirteen biblical commandments of the Jewish faith. Above the stars stands Yeshiva University, the center of Torah-U-Mada (coexistence of Jewish and secular studies) Below the stars lay the Medical ethics society, supporting Jewish medical ethics by using Jewish and secular studies.

The official logo of MES
Abbreviation MES
Motto וחי בהם (Hebrew)
V'Chai Ba'Hem ("and you shall live by them")
Formation September 2005 (2005-09)
Type University society
Purpose Educational
Headquarters 500 W. 185th Street, New York, NY 10033 USA
Region served
Yeshiva University undergraduate students
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Rabbi Edward Reichman, MD, and Yonah Bardos, M.B.E
Key people

Current Presidents: Yosefa Schoor and Mordechai Smith

Vice Presidents: Ari Rosenberg and Avital Meiri
Parent organization
Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future

Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society (MES), is an undergraduate student-run organization of Yeshiva University which was founded by students in the fall of 2005 with the help of the Center for the Jewish Future toward the goal of promoting education and awareness of Jewish medical ethics in the university itself and the community at large. Since that time, MES working closely with the CJF has grown from a small group of students with common interests to running large-scale events with university-wide participation. In the first several years alone, they have hosted a diverse program of on-campus lectures by leading experts in the field of medical ethics and Halacha (Jewish law). Topics covered have included stem cell research, cloning, do not resuscitate orders, genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and birth control. They also host genetic testing events to help combat the high incidence of various genetic diseases in the Jewish community. The Society hosts many events throughout the year, including a large, annual conference focused on a chosen medical ethics topic. The events are open to all those who have an interest in learning more about Jewish medical ethics. Students, teachers, rabbis, physicians, and laymen are welcome.[1]

Founding and Establishment

MES was founded in the Fall of 2005 by Yonah Bardos, a Yeshiva College (YC) undergraduate student, and Rabbi Edward Reichman, MD, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. What started as just a simple club discussing Jewish medical ethics became a tour de force on campus. The society was the first student organization to work with and be mentored by the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). It stemmed from a late Thursday night conversation with Rabbi Kenneth Brander who had just become the Dean of the newly minted CJF. The following morning, Yonah Met with Rabbi Brander, Rabbi Dr. Reichman, and Rabbi Josh Joseph, who have all supported and continued to help guide and mentor the society to this very day. MES was established in order to further the commitment of YU to its philosophy of Torah Umadda (Jewish and secular knowledge), specifically in the realm of medical ethics as it intersects with Halakha (Jewish Law).[2]

Under the guidance of Rabbi Brander, and Rabbi Josh Joseph (then the director of Special Projects at the CJF and now the Vice President of the University and Chief of Staff to President Richard Joel), the fledgling society took root and began running events attracting large audiences and gaining renown in the university. A secondary goal of the society was to create leaders through its leadership training program. The second event the society ran garnered over 250 students from various NYC and YU schools, a number unheard of for academic events at that time. The society has remained true to its roots of increasing ethical and halachik awareness on medical issues and furthering the commitment of YU to its philosophy of Torah Umadda. Rabbi Dr. Reichman, Rabbi Brander, and the staff at the CJF have remained committed mentors to the society, continuing to promote its educational value to the student body and the Jewish community as a whole.[3]

Mission Statement

The Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) is a student run organization with the goal of promoting education and awareness of medical ethics at YU. While increasing sensitivity to ethical issues in medicine that are relevant to the global community, MES is especially focused on issues of medical ethics relating to Halakha (Jewish law), Jewish medical ethics, and Torah values. MES strives to make Yeshiva University a global center for Jewish medical ethics, which will serve as an educational resource for laymen, rabbis, patients, doctors, and other health professionals.[4]

Letter from the Presidents

As orthodox religious Jews and aspiring medical professionals, we find that the objectives of the Yeshiva University's Student Medical Ethics Society represent some of the quintessential goals that the human race strives for; to educate about the interface of medicine and ethics, as well as to instill within aspiring medical professionals a sense of responsibility to practicing medicine with this understanding. To attempt to practice medicine without the guiding light of morals and ethics is like steering a boat aimlessly at sea without a light tower in the distance; both, medicine and the boat, are doomed to be caught up in a storm. Therefore, as presidents of this society we hope to work on the first step of visible change; creating awareness by providing education. Like in years past, we intend to host multiple events a semester to educate the hundreds of Yeshiva University students in the complexities of medical ethics. Once students hear from many diverse speakers and actively engage in medical ethics, whether by activity or discourse, only then can we hope that we will live our lives having inculcated the values of medical ethics. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world", and as presidents of MES, our goal is to make sure that the medical professionals and Jews that will bring change tomorrow are getting a halakhic, moral, and ethical compass today. Presidents Yosefa Schoor and Mordechai Smith.[5]

Society Organizational Structure

MES has an executive board composed of two presidents and two vice presidents. As Yeshiva divides its undergraduate students by sex into two separate colleges, one president and one vice president are male students from Yeshiva College (Yeshiva University) and one president and one vice president are female students from Stern College for Women. The treasurer and secretary as well as the other members of the board are chosen from the two colleges to make a board that averages from 12 to 18 members per year.[6]


Many student volunteers also help run and coordinate events and through the MES Mentor Program, many remain involved, eventually becoming board members themselves. Volunteers of the two undergraduate colleges help with setting up for conferences, guiding guests at events, and apprentice board members through their mentor program.[7]

Members of the Board

At end of each semester the students who have shown excitement, vision and leadership skills may be nominated for the board. A majority of the executive board present at the end of the year meeting must approve this nominee. MES chooses its board members through interviews of volunteers vying for the position. The year's outgoing presidents and incoming presidents together handpick which present members will continue to be on the board the next year and which new members will be inducted.[8]

Responsibilities or Privileges of a Board Member


The current executive board chooses two members it feels would be correct for the presidency and then consults with the board of directors. There shall be one president representing the Wilf (male) Campus and one president representing the Beren (female) Campus. The president is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the society.[10]

Board of Directors

Members may remain on the board for as many semesters as they are enrolled as undergraduates in Yeshiva University and are re-elected to the board by the presidents, however a president may only become an executive director the following year and then, inducted to the Board of Directors after they finish their year as executive directors. If the BOD does not feel the executive directors were exemplary leaders they may not be inducted. If chosen to join the BOD, it is a position they will hold for life, along with the other past presidents and the founder of MES, Yonah Bardos. While the board of directors is not involved in the day-to-day management of MES, they serve as a body of knowledge and as mentors for the future student leaders. They are a resource and asset that utilized often. Honorary membership status may be awarded in special cases involving someone who has shown outstanding dedication and devotion to the society but is precluded from being on this board. All honorary members must be approved by a majority of the board of directors. The purpose of the Board of directors is to maintain continuity of student leadership. The board of directors must be included on decisions that would change the course, the position and/or the mission statement of the society. Additionally, the board of directors must be consulted before the new presidents are appointed. It is the responsibility of the presidents to contact the chairman and to make sure to meet with the board of directors at least 6 weeks prior to the annual conference or beginning of fall semester.[11]

Advisory Board

The advisory board of the Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society is composed of members of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future and leading Medical ethicists. An advisory board of Rabbis and Doctors consisting of no less than three members shall always be maintained. Any changes to the advisory board must be approved by a majority of the current board and the board of directors. The purpose of the advisory board to guide and assist the society regarding choosing topics and speakers for events. They serve as sounding boards, mentors and guides to insure the continuity of the society. The advisory board must be included on decisions that would change the course, the position and/or the mission statement of the society.[12]

Board of Directors

Current Executive Board

Current Board

Annual Conferences

Recurring Programs and Events

A subsidiary of MES, the Bioethics Journal Club is a chance for students to gather to discuss important issues in contemporary bioethics while gaining vital experience in presenting academic scientific works. On a bimonthly basis, a student presenter will prepare a scholarly article on a topic in bioethics and prepare a presentation for his/her peers. Occasionally, experts in bioethics prepare their own published works and present an insider’s view of the bioethics field. Through a series of presentations, the club aims to; explore broader themes in bioethics and their various practical implications; increase the awareness of students seeking to enter the medical and biological fields about potential ethical issues they will face in the course of their future careers; increase student awareness of medical ethics issues that may potentially arise throughout their lives.[29][30]

MES has dubbed every February in Yeshiva University “Bone-marrow Awareness Month,” or BAM for short. During BAM, MES holds events on campus dedicated to promoting awareness and discussions about the ethics of whole bone marrow and bone marrow stem cell donations. MES facilitates drives for the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, registering potential donors into the international bone marrow database via buccal swabs. MES has been responsible for helping thousands of people register as potential donors and has enabled several bone marrow donations.

The Program for Jewish Genetic Health of Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine has sponsored Jewish Genetic Disease carrier screenings on YU campuses exclusively to YU studentsat a fee. The Program for Jewish Genetic Health provides young Ashkenazi Jewish singles and couples with accessible and affordable options for “open” genetic testing that will identify “carriers”—individuals who themselves are not affected with the specific disorders but whose offspring are at risk if these carriers marry individuals who also are carriers for the same disorders. Approximately 1 in 4 Ashkenazi Jews are carriers for at least one disorder, which include Tay-Sachs disease, familial dysautonomia and Gaucher disease. The campus screenings follow informational sessions held in conjunction with YU’s Student Medical Ethics Society.[31]

Organizations coordinated with

MES has worked with the Gift of Life Marrow Registry for several years. They hold bone marrow oral swabbing events, a bone marrow awareness month (BAM) and their board members volunteer for Gift of Life programs outside of Yeshiva.[32]

Although not directly affiliated with Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM), MES has worked with the institution on a number of events concerning bioethics, genetic screening, and is guided and advised by the deans, professors, and medical professionals on medical ethics topics. AECOM also hosts an annual weekend symposium for Yeshiva undergrads, run by MES. MES and Einstein are also involved in Yeshiva University's Program for Jewish Genetic Health

Proposed Future Projects

Project YUMED (Yeshiva University Medical Ethics Database)

After several years of the YU Medical Ethics Society's existence, dozens of medical, halachik, and lay persons, including the present leading experts on Jewish medical ethics have expressed an urgent need for a centralized, easy to access and search, database on Jewish medical ethics and halachik topics. A doctor in an emergency room can have several serious halachik dilemmas every day and will not always have someone available to call, or the time to research the answer (these dilemmas can be serious life and death situations). It has been the dream of the YU Student Medical Ethics Society to create such a database in conglomeration with the Center for the Jewish Future. The issue is that this undertaking requires much time, effort, and expertise in several fields such as web site and database development. The information is available to us, but putting it together into a database is more difficult. This project is expected to take several years to fully complete. We would like now to get the ball rolling and involve those who would like to offer their services and/or advisement. Project founder: Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman

Project YUNMED (Yeshiva University National Medical Ethics Delegation)

The objective of this project is to provide a forum for bright young students in American Jewish high schools to cultivate their interests and refine their knowledge of the ever expanding field of medical ethics. This will be an amazing opportunity for students of Jewish high schools across the country to explore the confluence of ethics, halakha, and medicine as well as to witness firsthand the wonderful programming offered by Yeshiva University. Project founder: Samual Weprin

Project JMESS (Jewish Medical Ethics Societies Syndicate)

The objective of this project is to facilitate the creation and growth of Jewish medical ethics societies at colleges outside of Yeshiva University. Project Founder: Ari Rosenberg

MES in 5

Five-minute audio sessions discussing a medical ethics topic by either a rabbinic/medical professional or a YU student. These sessions are distributed by and weekly emails from the Center for the Jewish Future.

ובחרת בחיים - Undergraduate Medical Ethics Journal

ū·ḇā·ḥar·tā ba·ḥay·yîm ("Choose Life!"): A student written journal on medical ethics and halakha, published and edited by MES.

Recorded Lectures

Many of the MES events are recorded and can be located and downloaded online for free at


Category:Organizations established in 2006 Category:International student societies Category:Jewish clubs and societies Category:Jewish organizations based in the United States

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