Dorff, Elliot


Elliot Dorff was ordained a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1970 and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1971 with a dissertation in moral theory. Since then, he has directed the rabbinical and Masters programs at the University of Judaism where he currently is Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. He also teaches a course on Jewish law at the UCLA School of Law as a Visiting Professor.
Rabbi Dorff is a member of the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and of the editorial committee of the new Torah commentary for the Conservative Movement. His papers have formulated the validated stance of the Conservative Movement on infertility treatments and on end-of-life issues, and his Rabbinic Letters on human sexuality and poverty have become the voice of the Conservative Movement on those topics. He has chaired two scholarly organizations: the Academy of Jewish Philosophy and the Jewish Law Association. In Spring, 1993, he served on the Ethics Committee of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Health Care Task Force; in March, 1997, and May, 1999, he testified on behalf of the Jewish tradition on the subjects of human cloning and stem cell research before the President's National Bioethics Advisory Commission; in 1999 and 2000, he was part of the Surgeon General's commission to draft a Call to Action for Responsible Sexual Behavior. He now serves on a commission charged with reviewing and revising the federal guidelines for protecting human subjects in research projects.

In Los Angeles, he is a Vice-President of Jewish Family Service, and a member of the Ethics committees at the Jewish Homes for the Aging and the UCLA Medical Center. He serves as Co-Chair of the Priest-Rabbi Dialogue sponsored by the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and he is a Vice-President of the Academy for Jewish, Christian and Muslim Studies.

Rabbi Dorff's publications include more than 150 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics. He has written eight books: Jewish Law and Modern Ideology (1970); Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants (second, revised edition, 1996); A Living Tree: The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law (1988, with Arthur Rosett); Mitzvah Means Commandment (1989); Knowing God: Jewish Journeys to the Unknowable (1992); Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader (1995, edited with Louis E. Newman); Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics (1998); Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader (1999, edited with Louis E. Newman).