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The Circumcision Debate: Medical and Legal Implications

The Circumcision Debate: Medical and Legal Implications

This session is part of Judaism, Health, and Healing, a daylong Chicago Community Resource Conference addressing issues and providing resources on health-related topics that impact every individual and every family. The conference features experts in the fields of healthcare, law, and Jewish studies.  

The Circumcision Debate: Medical and Legal Implications
is a Session 1 selection

Presented by Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz and Rabbi Steven H. Resnicoff, JD.

Ritual circumcision is a fundamental Jewish practice of extraordinary symbolic and spiritual significance, and many physicians believe that it may bear health benefits as well. Yet modern studies suggest that one step (known as Metzizah b’peh, or MBP) in circumcision, practiced by many traditional Mohalim (those who perform the rite), can in rare cases cause harm. 
The New York City Board of Health has promulgated a regulation requiring parents to sign a form before MBP can be performed acknowledging that it can lead to serious complications. However, the constitutionality of this regulation is currently being contested in court. Obstetricians, pediatricians, and general practitioners play a critical role in educating parents-to-be regarding the general benefits of circumcision and also the consequences of MBP.
This program, which involves presentations by both a pediatrician and a rabbi/law professor:  
  • examines the health issues arising from circumcision (specifically MBP)
  • emphasizes the importance, both practical and legal, of informed consent
  • explores the roles that physicians can take in advising parents-to-be regarding their choice of Mohalim
  • analyzes the constitutional issues raised by the relevant litigation

Sheldon Berkowitz, MD has been a pediatrician for over 25 years and has been in practice at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota since 2001. He is currently the medical director of the General Pediatrics Clinic on its Minneapolis campus. Dr. Berkowitz attended medical school at the University of Colorado and completed his pediatric residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Dr. Berkowitz enjoys all aspects of primary care and is interested in expanding the concepts of the Medical Home Model to all patients. He has lectured and written on various bioethics subjects both locally and nationally.

Rabbi Steven H. Resnicoff, JD is a professor of law at DePaul University. Prior to moving to Chicago, he practiced commercial law in Maryland and New Jersey. He earned his BA from Princeton University and his JD from Yale University. After graduating from Yale, he earned his rabbinic degree from the Lakewood Yeshiva (also known as the Aaron Kotler Institute for Advanced Learning) and received advanced ordination from world-renowned scholar Rav Moshe Feinstein.

Rabbi Resnicoff's expertise lies in the areas of bankruptcy, commercial paper, contracts, and professional responsibility. He has served as chair of the Jewish Law Association and is currently a member of its executive committee. He has also served as chair and member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law School’s Section on Jewish Law. He is the author of several books and more than 25 chapters and articles, and co-author of a proposed course of study in business ethics designed for use in Jewish high schools.

Offered by Spertus InstituteDePaul
University College of Law Center for
Jewish Law & Judaic Studies
, and
University of Illinois at Chicago College 
of Medicine
in cooperation with the 
Jewish Healing Network of Chicago
the Center for Jewish Genetics, and 
Metro Chicago Hillel, with foundation 
support through The Charles 
& M.R. Shapiro Foundation.

DePaul University College of Law 
is an accredited Illinois MCLE provider. This conference has been approved
for up to 6.5 hours of General Illinois Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits.
The cost for these optional credits is $54.00 in addition to the pricing at left.

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. This conference has been approved for up to 6.5 hours
of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.
The cost for these optional credits is $54.00 in addition
to the pricing at left.