Orange Alert

Jewish bioethicist headlines Anbar lectures at SU, Temple Adath Yeshurun Sept. 5-6

Laurie Zoloth works at nexus of science, ethics, and religion

Aug. 16, 2012, by Rob Enslin

Laurie Zoloth, a pioneer in medical and research ethics, is delivering the fifth annual Anbar Family Lecture at Syracuse University and Temple Adath Yeshurun. Her SU lecture, titled “The Second Text: Tradition, Narrative, and Translation in Jewish Bioethics,” is Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 4 p.m. in The Kilian Room (500) of the Hall of Languages. The following day at 7:30 p.m., she will lecture on “Why Be Good?: Strangers and Others in Jewish Bioethics,” at Temple Adath Yeshurun (450 Kimber Rd., Syracuse).

"Both lectures will address the underlying moral and ethical questions in the national debates over health care reform, rationing, and our duties to the poor in a time of economic need," says Zoloth, who is on faculty at Northwestern University, where she serves as the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence; director of the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; and founding director of the Center for Bioethics, Science, and Society in the Feinberg School of Medicine.

The events are free and open to the public, and are presented in conjunction with the Department of Philosophy in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, call 315-443-4501 or 315-445-0002, or visit

“Laurie Zoloth exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit of both The College of Arts and Sciences and the Anbar Family Lecture series,” says Ben Bradley, associate professor and chair of the philosophy department. “Her work lies at the intersection of science, ethics, and religion, and has impacted everything from health care and social policy to feminist and Jewish studies. Anyone with an interest in scientific and philosophic traditions will be moved by what she has to say.”

At Northwestern, Zoloth is also a religious studies professor, and teaches in both the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program and The Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies. She previously founded and directed the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University.

In 2011, Zoloth was elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion. Other organizations of which she has held leadership positions include the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the Society for Jewish Ethics, the National Recombinant DNA Advisory Board, the NASA National Advisory Council, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Bioethics Advisory Board.

Zoloth is the author of the landmark book, Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter (The University of North Carolina Press, 1999), inspired in part by her work with The Ethics Practice, a Bay Area firm she founded that educates and counsels health care providers and systems. She has also co-edited four books, and has published extensively on ethics, family, feminist theory, religion and science, Jewish studies, and social policy.

“Her visit is timely, in view of the national concern over health care reform,” adds Bradley. “By drawing on selected classic and postmodern Jewish texts, she will encourage new ways of looking at what has become a major social justice problem.”

Events are made possible by the Doctors Ada and Michael Anbar Lecture Series Fund, which aims to expose the campus community to the 3,000-year-old traditions of Jewish ethics.

“These traditions, combined with 2,000-year-old Greek traditions, are the foundation of Western civilization,” says Michael. “Many religions have incorporated ethics into their dogmas, and atheists must be ethical to be part of civilization. Notably, some people who follow religious rituals act unethically. This dichotomy between rituals and ethics has been pointed out again and again by each of our great prophets. Our series seeks to elucidate these critical issues."

Media Contact

Rob Enslin