Law and bioethics in Israel: Between liberal ethical values and Jewish religious norms

Amos Shapira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Israel, the bulk of the population leads an essentially secularist, liberal, and permissive individual lifestyle. At the same time, certain cultural-religious values, institutions, practices and injuctions are formally woven into the Israeli communal fabric. Consequently, the bioethical discourse in Israel has evolved in a socio-cultural context which manifests a unique mix of orthodoxy and secularism, of communal paternalism and assertive individualism, of proscription and permissiveness, of religious norms and liberal ethical values. There can be no denying of the impact of Jewish religious tenets, and the political groups that champion them, on the shaping of Israeli biomedical jurisprudence. Yet it would be wrong to assume that such impact invariably has been prohibitive and restrictive. To illustrate the diverse influence of religious attitudes on normative postures regarding biomedical dilemmas in Israel, I will focus on end-of-life medical decision making, on the one hand and on embryonic stem cells research, on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalJournal International de Bioethique
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Bioethics
  • Israel
  • Judaism
  • Legislation


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