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In First, Pope Francis Names Rabbis To Pontifical Academy Of Life

(JTA) — Two rabbis, one from Israel and one from Argentina, were appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Life, the first time rabbis have been invited to be members of the academy.

Pope Francis appointed 45 new ordinary members and five honorary members to the academy’s advisory body, the Vatican announced last week.

Israeli rabbi Avraham Steinberg, who won the Israel Prize in 1999 for original rabbinic literature, and Argentinean rabbi Fernando Szlajen were designated on June 13 as members of the institution that “exists for the promotion and defense of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.”

Rabbi Steinberg is the author of “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics,” for which he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1999. He is the director of the Medical Ethics Unit of the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and director of the Editorial Committee of the Talmudic Encyclopedia.

Rabbi Szlajen, who is from Argentina, the birth country of Pope Francis, is the director of the Department of Culture for the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires.

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