J. David Bleich

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Rabbi Dr. J. (Judah) David Bleich is an authority on Jewish law and ethics and bioethics. He is a professor of Talmud (Rosh Yeshiva) at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, as well as head of its postgraduate institute for the study of Talmudic jurisprudence and family law. (His official position is called the "Herbert and Florence Tenzer Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics.")

Academic Credentials

Rabbi Bleich is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hastings Center, fellow of the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, and a member of the Governor’s Commission on Life and the Law.

Degree: B.A., Brooklyn City University of New York; M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., New York University; Ordination, Yeshiva Torah VoDaat, New York; Ordination Yadin Yadin, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Mendel Zaks.


Rabbi Bleich is the author of Jewish Bioethics (a collection of essays, which he coedited with Fred Rosner); With Perfect Faith: Foundations of Jewish Belief; Contemporary Halakhic Problems (five volumes); Time of Death in Jewish Law; and Judaism and Healing. He has written extensively on the applications of Jewish law to contemporary social issues and on the interface of Jewish law and the American legal system.

The Yorkville Synagogue

Rabbi Bleich has been the rabbi (Jewish spiritual leader) of the Yorkville Synagogue, located in Manhattan on 352 E 78 St. and 1st Ave., for many years. He teaches two hour-long Talmud classes on Saturday (Shabbos), before the morning service (Shacharit) and afternoon service (Mincha).

Once every two or three weeks, Rabbi Bleich teaches an hour-long class on a Jewish halakhic or philosophical issue, in a program called "Kiddush, Cholent and Learning." The topic usually is related to the subject matter of the weekly Torah portion. (For example, Rabbi Bleich discussed the seven Noahide Laws on the Shabbat in 2005 when Genesis chapter 34, the story of Dinah's abduction and rescue, was read. Medieval commentators have discussed whether the actions of Shimon and Levi, and the people of Shekhem, were consistent with the Noahide Laws.) Rabbi Bleich distributes photocopied source sheets, including excerpts from the Talmud, medieval commentators on the Bible and Talmud, medieval and modern responsa, and some modern English-language scientists, philosophers, and news reporters. These interdisciplinary Torah lectures, sweeping across a wide historical range of ideas, provide a rare opportunity for Torah students and reflect the brilliance of Rabbi Bleich's mind.

In the upkeep of the synagogue (and his other endeavors), Rabbi Bleich is complemented by his wife, Dr. Judy Bleich, who is a professor of Jewish history at Touro College in Manhattan.

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