Intended for healthcare professionals


Lessons for doctors from Jewish philosophy

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:311
  1. Naomi Lear, medical student (
  1. McGill University, Canada

    I became active in the Jewish community and interested in medicine at about the same time. I was in high school, and I became involved in my synagogue's youth group. I loved the friends I made and the programmes I attended. And although there were no formal educational sessions, over time I learnt by example the values of social activism, leadership, community, personal growth, and ethical development.

    In the same year that I became president of my youth group I met Dr Ipp. I used to run Dr Ipp's office when he was working on call on the weekends. One Saturday he took me to a movie after work. Just before Hamlet's major monologue he was paged. A woman's baby had fallen and lost consciousness for a moment. Dr Ipp insisted that she take the baby to the hospital, but the woman refused, saying that she didn't want to drive on the Sabbath. Although in Judaism the saving of a life takes precedence over the customs of Shabbat, the woman continued to refuse. “Come on,” Dr Ipp said to me, “it's not a child's …

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