Health and Halacha Virtual Conference
Sessions Guide

Sunday, May 2

IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF: SELF-CARE

IF I'M ONLY FOR MYSELF: FAMILY-CARE

10:30 AM EDT/ 7:30 AM PDT

Zooming in, Zooming out: Interpersonal Relationships in our Time

Yoetzet Halacha Racheli Taubes and Rabbi Yaakov Taubes

This “unprecedented” year challenged our interpersonal relationships. As we recover and heal, let’s discuss the laws pertaining to interpersonal relationships and use them to build better connections and friendships with other people.

Shana Rishona: Building Healthy Intimacy

Yoetzet Halacha Shiffy Friedman, Rabbi Elan Mazer and Rachel Hercman

Let’s get started on the right foot! Fortify your new relationship with Torah-based, data driven skills for healthy intimacy in and out of the bedroom. 

Among other topics, we will tackle the challenges of Shana Rishona during the pandemic: makeshift weddings, extended quarantines and mikveh closures.

11:30 AM EDT/ 8:30 AM PDT

Everything Egg Freezing

Yoetzet Halacha Adina Blaustein and Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow

  • How exactly does the technology work? How successful is it?
  • Will this technology discourage young women and men from committing to relationships, which always need investment?
  • Should we be concerned that it will increase the possibility that someone will explore single parenthood? Autonomy versus regulation of the process.  Is single parenthood ever a halachically-sanctioned option?
  • How can it help possible agunah situations?
  • What are the halachic, hashkafic and ethical considerations when considering egg freezing?
  • At what age should we be discussing this advancement with our daughters? At what age should we be considering it for ourselves, and in what circumstances?

Sustaining Passion in Perimenopause

Yoetzet Halacha Rivka Alter and Suri Halpern

Join these two wise women in a discussion of the different challenges a couple might face as they embrace this new phase of life.

12:30 PM EDT/ 8:30 AM PDT

Social Media: Selfies and Self Image

Yoetzet Halacha Lisa Septimus and Dr. Sarah Roer Bendheim

“Selfie culture” and everything it represents is impacting our own self-esteem, sense of self and relationship building. How is it impacting our children and the way in which they are socializing? What does Torah have to say about successfully managing the challenges of “Selfie culture”?

Thorns in the Hedge of Roses? Challenges Keeping Taharat Hamishpacha

Yoetzet Halacha Atara Eis and Dr. Shy Krug

The laws of niddah are often described as a hedge of roses- reflecting the self control required to accurately observe the laws and the beautiful resulting relationship. But sometimes, in the lived experience, we find ourselves stuck in the thorns rather than smelling the roses. How did these rules develop, and what perspectives should we consider that will help us pluck the thorns from our sides?

2:30 PM EDT/ 11:30 AM PDT

Keynote Address: Stability in the Eye of the Storm

Rabbanit Chana Henkin, interviewed by Sivan Rahav Meir

3:30 PM EDT/ 12:30 PM PDT

Optimism and Resilience One Year Later

Yoetzet Halacha Nechama Price, Rabbi Elan Mazer, Rabbi J.J. & Yocheved Schacter​

5:00 PM EDT/2:00 PM PDT

Inspiring Religious Growth in our Ourselves and in our Children

Yoetzet Halacha Shayna Goldberg

As parents, we think constantly about how to effectively impart our deepest values to our children. This lecture will discuss some principles that can be helpful in developing an approach built on trust in ourselves and our children.

7:00 PM EDT/ 4:00 PM PDT

Care or Compulsion: Taharat HaMishpacha and Scrupulosity

Yoetzet Halacha Shira Donath and Dr. Regine Galanti

Sometimes, what looks like remarkable meticulous performance of mitzvot masks an unhealthy inability to move past doubt, leading to debilitating obsession that interferes with a person’s quality of life. How do we recognize when we or our loved ones are suffering from scrupulosity? What do our Torah Sages say about this challenge? What therapeutic treatments are most effective?

Dealing with Difficult Relationships: Famous In-law Stories of the Torah

Yoetzet Halacha Nechama Price

Since we left Gan Eden, in-law relationships have been complicated to navigate. Luckily, Torah can show us the way. What can we learn from Moshe & Yitro about healthy in-law relationships?

8:00 PM EDT/5:00 PM PDT

So, I Married an Addict

Yoetzet Halacha Lisa Septimus and The Frock NYC's Chaya Chanin

Addiction has the power to snatch lives and wreck relationships. Join us for a conversation between YH Lisa Septimus and The Frock’s Chaya Chanin, who will draw from her first-hand experience with this challenge. How do spouses navigate the rocky road of handling their spouse’s illness? What boundaries are necessary for their own wellbeing and for their spouse’s wellbeing? We will learn about local and global resources and support groups.

What Men and Women Really Want

Yoetzet Halacha Rifki Freundlich and Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich, Diana Melnick

Learn from this remarkable Rabbinic couple and insightful couples therapist about balancing different needs, desires, communication styles and perspectives that are more typical for women and men. What Torah-based ideas can help us build healthy relationships?

9:00 PM EDT/ 6:00 PM PDT

Desire Discrepancies

Yoetzet Halacha Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel and Elisheva Liss

Even couples with great chemistry will find discrepancies in desire throughout their marriages. Why? What Torah-based ideas can we unlock that are consonant with modern psychological techniques and perspectives in order to tackle common challenges and enhance our marriages? 

Postpartum will be among the times that will be addressed as ripe for renegotiation.

Educating our Children for Healthy and Holy Intimacy

Yoetzet Halacha Ilana Gadish, Dr. Yardaena Osband and Rachel Tuchman

As parents, we have the unique, but often daunting, opportunity and responsibility to prepare our children for healthy, Torah infused approaches to intimacy and sexual relationships. What makes these conversations so challenging for so many people? What attitudes and habits should we adopt and practice to instill the right values in our children? What do we do if we may not have seen that modeled in our own childhood? How does online safety and responsible digital citizenship play into preparing our children for lives of kedusha?

5:00 PM EDT/ 2:00 PM PDT

Mental Health in Halacha

Yoetzet Halacha Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel and Dr. Chana Gelb

Particularly in the last decade, we have witnessed much more awareness in the Jewish community of mental health challenges, as many successful efforts have worked toward breaking the stigma. In what ways does/does halacha respond to mental health considerations in determining psak halacha? Has this changed over time?

Monday, May 3

FERTILITY JOURNEY FEATURING NISHMAT’S FERTILITY COUNSELORS, in con

THE FOUR TRIMESTERS

1:00 PM EDT/ 10:00 AM PDT

Fertility Journey I: Diagnosis

Yoetzet Halacha Laurie Novick, Dr. Jordana Hyman and Dr. Rhonda Adessky NOTE: BEGINS AT 1:30 PM

From diagnosis to treatment, the fertility journey confronts us with choices and challenges. Join a holistic discussion about the diagnostic process, addressing medical, halachic and emotional aspects of questions such as: Which tests come first, and why? Must the wife go first? What’s the best procedure for obtaining semen samples? How do diagnostic procedures interact with the laws of niddah?

Prenatal Genetic Screening

Yoetzet Halacha Rifki Freundlich, Rabbi Kenneth Auman and Dr. Nathan Fox

As the accuracy of non-invasive prenatal genetic screening has improved drastically over the last five years, physicians have moved away from the more invasive diagnostic testing whenever possible, and screening has become even more pervasive. Join this informative conversation about the medical, halachic and ethical ramifications of the latest technology and options for maternal and fetal health.

8:00 PM EDT/ 5:00 PM PDT

Fertility Journey II: Treatment

Yoetzet Halacha Atara Eis, Dr. Bat-Sheva Lerner Maslow, Dr. Karen Wasserstein

From diagnosis to treatment, the fertility journey confronts us with choices and challenges. Join a holistic discussion about the most common fertility treatments. Topics covered include:

  • Do any therapeutic treatments render a woman niddah?
  • Is religious supervision of procedures required?
  • What are the parameters regarding:  Selective Fetal Reduction in halacha?
  • Can we dispose of eggs if/when not needed?
  • How can we troubleshoot ovulation before mikveh?

Peripartum Mental Health

Yoetzet Halacha Tova Warburg Sinensky and Dr. Naomi Greenblatt

9:00 PM EDT/ 6:00 PM PDT

Special Men's Program

Breastfeeding in Halacha

Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Deena Zimmerman, IBCLC and Chanie Fingerer, RN

Must I breastfeed? How do I pump on Shabbat? How do I manage fasting on Yom Kippur and Tish’a B’Av without impacting myself, my baby and my milk supply? Join Yoledet Academy Chani Fingerer with  Yoetzet Halacha, pediatrician and lactation consultant Deena Zimmerman for a data-driven halachic discussion, rooted in the real experiences of women.

11:00 PM EDT/ 8:00 PM EDT

Sperm Donors, Egg Donors, and Surrogates: Halacha in Practice

Yoetzet Halacha Yardena (Cope Yossef) Bodenheimer and Reb Zvi Ryzman, moderated by Dr. Sahar Wertheimer

Cutting-edge reproductive technology has introduced medical procedures considered science fiction a few short years ago. Gamete donation and gestational carriers have enabled many people to build families, and simultaneously raise a host of halachic, ethical and legal questions: who is the mother? In what cases would conversion be required? How should the State of Israel regulate sperm donation and in all cases where gamete donation is involved, be able to prevent incestuous marriages? How should the rabbinic courts treat requests for conversion of children born through ART?

Tuesday, May 4

FAMILY PLANNING

HEALTH CHALLENGES

1:00 PM EDT/ 10:00 AM PDT

Going Hormone Free? Fertility Awareness Method & Halacha

Yoetzet Halacha Adi Bitter

Have you been considering finding a contraception that is hormone free? Perhaps you’ve heard through the grapevine about the fertility awareness method. But is it really a viable option for a couple that keeps halacha? Alternatively, you’re trying to conceive and are using fertility awareness method to optimize your chances. Anything to keep in mind as you practice FAM?

Preventative Breast Health

Yoetzet Halacha Atara Segal, Dr. Ellen Warner, Melissa Rosen of Sharsheret

8:00 PM EDT/ 5:00 PM PDT

Contraception Confusion: Options and Consequences

Yoetzet Halacha Sarah Cheses and Dr. Rachel Weinerman

Eavesdrop on these two sisters as they explore different contraceptive options and their medical and halachic ramifications, including some new to the market.

Mikveh with a Medical Challenge

Yoetzet Halacha Dena Block and Dr. Elissa Hellman

How do PICC lines, ostomy bags, glucose monitors and other medical solutions impact mikveh usage? In what ways can we improve mikveh accessibility for women with different disabilities?

9:00 PM EDT/ 6:00 PM PDT

Pull at the Heartstrings or Knot in the Stomach: Family Planning after 35​

Yoetzet Halacha Rifka Sonenberg and Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner

What are the halachic parameters of spacing children? Can we ever declare ourselves done having children? Would halacha ever advise a couple to stop having children?

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Yoetzet Halacha Bracha Rutner, Dr. Scott & Rivki Chudnoff

Let’s break the stigma against various forms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and help women get support and treatment that can improve their lives and general wellbeing and treating sexual pain. Learn about the halachic considerations that arise both for those suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction and from different treatments. 

10:30 PM EDT/ 7:30 PM PDT

Pelvic Pain, Painful Periods, Unexplained Infertility: Endometriosis and its Halachic Implications

Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Jordana Topp and Dr. Iris Orbuch

Endometriosis often goes misdiagnosed for years and can have profound impact on a woman’s health, wellbeing and fertility. Learn from world renowned endometriosis specialist Iris Orbuch, author of “Beating Endo”, and the halachic side from Yoetzet Halacha Jordana Topp.

11:30 PM EDT/ 8:30 PM PDT

Midor LeDor: Preconception Genetic Testing

Yoetzet Halacha Ilana Gadish, Dr. Larry Platt and Dr. Hindi Posy

The number of identified genetic mutations for which a couple can test before conceiving has exploded over the last decade, and at this point we take for granted that couples test for these mutations and prevent tragedy through PGD technology. But the reality and experience are more complex than that. 

  • What catalyzed this historical shift toward encouraging testing over the last forty years?
  • Are there any halachic parameters or limitations regarding testing? 
  • Should we be encouraging open testing or more of a “Dor Yesharim” model?

Wednesday, May 5

CELEBRATING 21 YEARS OF NISHMAT YOATZOT HALACHA

1:00 PM EDT/ 10:00 AM PDT

From Classic Questions to Confronting Covid: 21 Years in the Field

Yoatzot Halacha Hadassah Klein, Shira Donath and Nechama Price

A panel of Yoatzot Halacha who work in different community capacities as Yoatzot Halacha reflect on the impact of Nishmat’s Yoatzot Halacha upon halachic observance, women’s Torah study, and their own personal lives.

Yoatzot In Action

8:00 PM EDT/ 5:00 PM PDT

Makeup, Manicures & Mikveh

Yoatzot Halacha Hindy Feder and Bracha Rutner

Are you wondering why there seem to be such different opinions on whether you can immerse with gel nails, fake eyelashes or hair extensions? Are you past the age of mikveh use but surprised to hear that this is even a discussion, since when you used mikveh, it was a given that it was off-limits to immerse with any foreign items on our body? Hear what the hype is all about, and get some great beauty tips along the way.

Tevila in the Tub: What Makes a Kosher Mikveh?

Yoetzet Halacha Stacey Goldman and Rabbi Gedalyah Berger

The frightening early days of Covid-19 unleashed a torrent of anxious and heated conversations about mikveh safety, as we were flooded by inconsistent information and needed to make sense of what was fact and what was fiction. Social media quickly circulated unsubstantiated claims that there might be precedent for using a bathtub as a mikveh. Let’s discuss the halachic foundations of this discussion and why this is typically not a halachically valid option, and simultaneously we will pray it won’t resurface as a practical consideration ever again.

Yoatzot In Collaboration

9:00 PM EDT, 6:00 PM PDT

Moreh Derech: Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin ZT"L and the Yoatzot Halacha

Yoetzet Halacha Laurie Novick

A renowned halachic authority, Rav Yehuda H. Henkin served for decades as Posek for Nishmat and its Yoatzot Halacha. In that capacity, he worked closely with Yoatzot Halacha, guiding them in responding to specific questions and in shaping halachic policy. Learn about his approach to halacha and to developing the skills and knowledge of the Yoatzot Halacha.

Closing Remarks

Rabbanit Chana Henkin