Meet the Doctor: Chani (Cheryl) Yondorf, MD
Chani (Cheryl) Yondorf, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. She sees patients on the main campus and at Einstein Center One in Northeast Philadelphia. She is also part of the Einstein Victor Center team helping to prevent Jewish genetic diseases.
We spoke with Dr. Yondorf recently about her career, her interests, and obstetrics and gynecology at Einstein.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: My mom kept telling me I was going to be a doctor, and to prove her wrong, I was not going to be a doctor. I searched through every other thing I could possibly think of in any math and science fields, and I couldn’t find anything I wanted to do. Then, in my last semester in college, I did some time in the emergency room and I really enjoyed it, and I said, OK, you know what? I guess my mom was right; I’ll be a doctor.
I really liked the fact that in the medical field you had such a deeper understanding of how the body works and then how it can malfunction and how so many technologies that we have today can really help put things back in order. It felt like a little bit of a partnership between person and creator and how to make that connection. I really enjoyed that part of it.
Q: Tell us about your medical education.
A: I got my medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York. I did my OBGYN residency here at Einstein. I have two children and I knew that residency was going to be very challenging. My in-laws are here in Philly and they’re empty nesters, so Philly was high on my list of where I wanted to be.
Q: How did you come to choose your specialty, obstetrics and gynecology?
A: I like OBGYN because it’s so multifaceted. You can help manage a young girl who first gets her period and has trouble with that. And you can manage a woman who is trying to navigate dating and marriage and then help women through some of their happiest years as they have children. As they grow older, you can help get them through that stage as well. And then you’ve developed this lifelong relationship with a woman, and you can enjoy and appreciate that life with her.
Q: Why did you decide to stay at Einstein to practice medicine?
A: My husband, who is also in the medical field, was applying for residency as my residency was ending. So I couldn’t look for a job until March because the residency is a match system, and that’s when he found out where he would go. From the outset, Dr. [David] Jaspan, [Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Einstein Healthcare Network,] said to me, “We’d really love to keep you here. If your husband matches in Philly, please stay with us.” I knew that I wanted to cater my practice towards caring for the Jewish women in my community. Einstein was so eager to help me achieve this goal that it was an easy choice!
Q: What are some of your clinical interests?
A: From the beginning I felt that there was a need within the Jewish community for a woman who understood the Orthodox Jewish laws and also would be able to understand the medicine. I really want to fill that niche.
In addition to this, I have a special interest in Jewish genetic screening. Having young, college-age people getting screened for genetic diseases is something that I have always been passionate about. This is a way that you can control your reproductive health and help prevent diseases that are preventable. The Einstein Victor Center is this major center in Philadelphia with the goal of educating people to be screened for Jewish genetic diseases. I think it’s important for people to know that this option exists and that they need to get screened.
Q; Why is it helpful for Orthodox Jewish women to receive care that is sensitive to and informed about Jewish law and traditions?
A: I mean, theoretically any gynecologist can offer this care, but it’s always easier to talk to somebody who really understands it. For example, there are many traditions and restrictions around menstruation for Orthodox Jewish women that can affect contraception, childbirth and the timing of weddings. To have that sensitivity is something that is not easily taught.
Q: Why should women choose Einstein for care related to their reproductive system, pregnancy and childbirth?
A: The care provided at Einstein is superb. We have a residency training program and so we are always providing care according to the most up-to-date recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition to providing excellent medical care, the physicians at Einstein are kind and compassionate and eager to take care of each patient as a person. The staff is always looking to be culturally sensitive and are wonderful advocates for their patients.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I love running outdoors, especially in the fall – there is something so peaceful about it. Philly has so many nature trails right in your backyard that offer such beautiful running paths. I also really enjoy knitting, reading and spending time with my family.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite. Being kind to every living creature, no matter what they may look like on the outside, is a value I find very important and try to instill in my children.
Q: What is your favorite sports team?
A: The Yankees. Despite living in Philly and being surrounded by fierce Phillies fans (both my boys and my husband and his whole family!), you can’t take the New Yorker out of me.
Q: Did you have an early role model?
A: My grandmother, my mother’s mother, has always been my role model. She did not have an easy life. She married a Holocaust survivor who passed away young because of health problems that developed as a result of the atrocities he suffered during the Holocaust. She was a penniless widow with two young children and yet she never complained. She always carried herself with dignity and pride. She made sure that she and her children always looked put together. Her work ethic is one that I emulate to this day. There is a phrase in Judaism that goes “Emor m’at v’asay harbay – speak a little but do a lot.” That was my grandmother.
Q: What person would you be most interested in meeting?
A: I would have to say my grandfather, my mother’s father. He passed away when my mother was only 13 years old. He lived through the Holocaust and used his position as a Nazi driver to help smuggle many people out of concentration camps. He kept them alive by smuggling out food as well. He finally escaped into the forest and served as a resistance fighter until the war ended. Despite the awful things he saw, he always had an optimistic outlook on life and was always working and fighting to help others.
Learn more about Einstein obstetrics and gynecology services.