Moshe David Tendler

Moshe David Tendler (August 7, 1926 – September 28, 2021) was an American rabbi, professor of biology and expert in medical ethics. He served as chairman of the biology department at Yeshiva University.[1]


Moshe David Tendler
Moshe Tendler 56205-06.jpg
Courtesy of Yeshiva University
Born(1926-08-07)August 7, 1926
Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York
DiedSeptember 28, 2021(2021-09-28) (aged 95)
SpouseShifra Feinstein
Alma materNew York University, Columbia University
OccupationRabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and Professor of Biology at Yeshiva College
SynagogueCommunity Synagogue of Monsey
PositionRosh yeshiva
YeshivaRabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS)
ResidenceMonsey, New York


Moshe David Tendler was born in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City on August 7, 1926.[2] He received his B.A. degree from New York University in 1947 and a master's degree in 1950. He was ordained at the Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in 1949, and earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from Columbia University in 1957.[3]

In 1951, Yeshiva University's Samuel Belkin encouraged Tendler to lead the Great Neck Synagogue for one year as an intern, thereby becoming the community's first rabbi.[4] He later became the long-time rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Monsey, New York.

Tendler served as a senior rosh yeshiva (dean) at RIETS, and the Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics and Professor of Biology at Yeshiva College. He was noted as an expert on Jewish medical ethics and their relationship to halakha (Jewish law).[5]

Tendler was the son-in-law of Moshe Feinstein, a world-renowned posek.[5] Some of Feinstein's "Iggerot Mosheh" responsa are addressed to his son-in-law. His wife, Shifra, died in October 2007.[6] Tendler died on September 28, 2021, in Rochelle Park, New Jersey.[2]

Medical ethicsEdit

Community Synagogue of Monsey

Tendler has written and lectured widely on medical ethics. He translated various medical oriented responsa of Feinstein into English, even though Feinstein expressly forbade such translations.[7][8] Tendler advocates the theory that complete and irreversible cessation of function of the entire brain renders a person "physiologically decapitated", and is considered legally dead according to Jewish law.[9] Tendler asserts that once organ donation has been deemed permissible under the given conditions, it is indeed mandatory, falling under the rubric of the legal obligation of Jews to preserve the lives of others.[10] In addition, Tendler has written extensively on euthanasia, infertility, end of life issues, organ donation, and brit milah (Jewish circumcision). Tendler has been a strong advocate for the use of a tube when performing metzitzah, suction of blood during circumcision.[11] Serving on an RCA panel on stem cell research, Tendler expressed respectful disagreement with the Bush administration's position.[12]

Tendler was the posek for the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and its past president.


Tendler voiced his objection to the tactics employed by the New York divorce coercion gang, an outfit of rabbis that utilized kidnapping, and sometimes torture, to force Jewish men to grant their wives religious divorces, saying "The idea that a beth din can issue an order for coercion is baloney, a hoax." While conceding that he had had previous dealings with Mendel Epstein, a leader of that group, Tendler nevertheless characterized him as being "unreliable". Regarding Martin Wolmark, another member of that group, Tendler stated, "He's a very intelligent fellow, and he's American. I can't imagine him getting involved in such a dirty business."[13] Epstein was later convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping,[14] and Wolmark was convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion.[15]

Published worksEdit



  • Pardes Rimonim: A Marriage Manual for the Jewish Family. KTAV, 1988. ISBN 0-88125-144-5.
  • Practical Medical Halachah. Co-author: Fred Rosner, Jason Aronson, 1997. ISBN 0-7657-9990-1.
  • Responsa of Rav Moshe Feinstein: Translation and Commentary KTAV, 1996. ISBN 0-88125-444-4


  1. ^ "Boy or Girl ethicists cringe over new technology". Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). October 15, 1998. the biology department chairman at Yeshiva University in New York
  2. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (October 9, 2021). "Moshe Tendler, Authority on Jewish Medical Ethics, Dies at 95". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  3. ^ "Pew Forum: Rabbi Moses Tendler". Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  4. ^ "Great Neck Synagogue History". Great Neck Synagogue. Retrieved October 18, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b "Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler of Monsey, NY To Be Honored For Unique Contribution to Jewish Life". Archived from the original on February 19, 2001. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  6. ^ "Community Synagogue of Monsey - History". Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  7. ^ Igros Moshe Y"D vol. III s.91. This was addressed to R. Shabtai Rappaport, the grandson-in-law of R.Feinstein and son-in-law of R.Tendler
  8. ^ Responsa of Rav Moshe Feinstein, Pages 23-27
  9. ^ Breitowitz, Yitzchok A. "The Brain Death Controversy in Jewish Law". Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  10. ^ "video interview". Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  11. ^ Weiss, Steven I. (March 18, 2005). "Rabbi Targeted After Call for Bris Change". The Forward. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  12. ^ Weiss, Steven I. (May 21, 2004). "O.U. Keeping Quiet in Stem Cell Debate". The Forward. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  13. ^ Lieberman, Steve and Bandler, Jonathan (October 11, 2013). "New Details Emerge in Jewish Divorce-gang Probe", USA Today. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  14. ^ (April 22, 2015) "New Jersey Rabbis Convicted of Conspiring to Kidnap Husbands, Force Them to Divorce Wives", Haaretz. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  15. ^ (December 14, 2015) "Rabbi Sentenced for Role in Divorce-Coercion Ring", The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2021.

External linksEdit