The Whizin Prize Essays | Reconstructing Judaism

The Whizin Prize Essays

Each year, The Center for Jewish Ethics sponsors an essay contest to encourage fresh thinking on contemporary Jewish ethics. The prize is awarded through the generosity of Bruce Whizin. The contest is open to rabbinical and graduate students from around the world.  

2018 Whizin Prize Winners:

PDF icon “Between Ethics and Jewish Law: Torat Ha-Melekh and the Moral Problems of Contemporary Halakhic Discourse”

by Bar Guzi, Brandeis University

Torat Ha-Melekh is an extremist tract that deploys halakhic arguments to justify and even promote the killing of non-Jews. Bar Guzi brings this work and the controversy it unleashed in Israel to English-reading audiences. He demonstrates that it is not enough to counter such violent chauvinism on the basis of halakhic sources alone, it must be opposed from a foundation of ethical principles that are universal.



PDF icon “למען נחדל מעשק ידינו-Wage Theft and Consumer Boycotts”

by Morris Panitz, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

What ethical responsibilities do consumers have when big corporations exploit their workers? Morris Panitz makes a halakhic argument in support of consumer boycotts.

2017 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Facing End-of-life Issues in Jewish-Protestant Families”

by Dr. Birgit E. Klein, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

2016 Whizin Prize Winner:

“One Throne for Justice, One Throne for Mercy: The Radical Rabbinic Metaethic of a Value Pluralist God”

by Ben Greenfield, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School



2015 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Sabbatical Consciousness: The Jewish Leisure Ethic and the Spirit of the Sabbath”

by Daniel Ross Goodman, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School          

2014 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Sexual Orientation in Jewish Ethics: Towards an Inclusive and Empathetic Halakhic Approach”

by Daniel Ross Goodman, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School

2013 Whizin Prize Winner:

“TRUTH… in Politics?”

by Marcia Tilchin, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

2012 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Sexual Ethics for Rabbis: A Return to the Source” 

by Lev Meirowitz Nelson, The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College

2012 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Reexamining Kashrut: Taking into Consideration the Treatment of an Animal Prior to Slaughter”

by Samuel L. Spector, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Campus 

2011 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Regarding the Limits of Permissible Zionist Support for Israel and the Correlating Obligations Upon American Jews,”

by David Singer of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, AJU

2010 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Jewish Ethics of Employee Treatment and Communal Responsibility,” 

by Dani Passow of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

2009 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Jewish Law and the Issues of Fair Trade,” 

by Deborah Silver of AJU, LA.

2008 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Values-Based Decision Making in the Real World of Dementia and Truth,” 

by Michael Dickerman of RRC

2007 Whizin Prize Winners:

“Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for Enhancement: A Jewish Ethic,” by Justus Baird of HUC-JIR, NY.



“How Do We Pass on Blessing? A Jewish Guide for Group Discussions on the Decision to Have or Not Have Children,” by Danielle Stillman of RRC.



2006 Whizin Prize Winner:

“A Reconstructionist Approach to Understanding Abortion,” by Nicole Wilson-Spiro of RRC.

2005 Whizin Prize Winner:

“To Recycle Photocopies of Sacred Writings or Bury Them in a Genizah? Preserving the Environment vs. Preserving the Holy Names of God,” by Devora Fond of the University of Judaism, Los Angeles.

2005 Whizin Prize Runner-Up:

“An Examination of the Cochlear Implant From a Jewish Bioethical Perspective,” by Darby Leigh of RRC.

2005 Whizin Prize Runner-Up:

“Toward A Jewish Ethic Regarding Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD),” by Josh Snyder of RRC.

2004 Whizin Prize Winner:

“Barely-Charted Territory: Some Ethical Considerations in Genetic Testing for Jewish Prospective Parents,” by Donna Kirshbaum of RRC.