Rabbi David Feldman, Halakhic-Medical Expert, Passes

Rabbi Feldman of New Jersey, 'one of the pioneers in medicine and halakha in our generation,' passes away at 85.

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Rabbi David Feldman
Rabbi David Feldman
Courtesy of the Family

Rabbi David M. Feldman, Rabbi-Emeritus of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, New Jersey, passed away on Friday at the age of 85. 

Rabbi Feldman was known as a pioneering expert on medical ethics and Jewish Law (halakha), on which he wrote several books, including the multi-edition "Birth Control in Jewish Law."

This work includes an introduction on the history and transmission of the Oral Law, which has become a classic work in its own right, used as study texts in high schools and yeshivot. 

His last work, entitled, "Where There's Life, There's Life," reflects Rabbi Feldman's lifelong devotion to the concept of "sanctity of life," even when the spirit of compassion might indicate otherwise. He displayed this same commitment even when it came to the last few difficult weeks of his own life, his children said at the funeral.

Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, M.D., associate medical ethics clinical professor at Hadassah and author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics, expressed sorrow at the news.

"Rabbi Feldman was one of the pioneers in medicine and halakha in our generation," Steinberg said, "and his important contributions to the field will be remembered forever."

His commitment to acting kindly and compassionately with others was legendary. "Visiting and checking on the sick is meaningful even if they don't know you came," he said – and did.

Rabbi Feldman served as a U.S. Air Force chaplain for two years, then as the much-beloved Rabbi of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center in Brooklyn and of the Jewish Center of Teaneck, for 21 years each.

He Chaired the Committee on Medical Ethics of UJA-Federation and its Committee on Marriage and the Family, and was chosen Rabbi of the Year in 1995 by the New York Board of Rabbis.

His prolific and scholarly father was one of the pioneer rabbis of the Los Angeles Jewish community, and his mother was a scholar and writer on Torah topics as well.

Rabbi Feldman is survived by his wife Aviva, sons Rabbi Daniel and Jonathan Feldman, daughter Rebecca Becker of Jerusalem, sisters Goldie Fendel of Jerusalem, Dr. Miriam Landau of Los Angeles, and long-time White House correspondent Trude Feldman, and many grandchildren.