Kosher Medicine and Medicalized Halacha: An Exploration of Triadic Relations Among Israeli Rabbis, Doctors, and Infertility Patients
American Ethnologist, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 662–680, November 2010
19 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2012 Last revised: 28 Aug 2012
Date Written: November 12, 2010
Drawing on my ethnography of rabbinically mediated fertility treatments for observant Jewish couples in Israel, I illuminate two simultaneous processes: the koshering of medical care and the medicalization of rabbinic law. My findings show how hands-on rabbinic interventions transform doctor–patient relations into rabbi–doctor–patient relations and introduce a network of power relations into clinical practice, at times empowering and at times disempowering patients. This case prompts a reconsideration of scholars’ tendency to view biomedicine in hegemonic terms.
Keywords: assisted conception, religious Judaism, Israel, power relations, authoritative knowledge, medicalization
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