Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, a hareidi-religious authority on Jewish law has ruled that it is forbidden to say Shema' Yisrael for the last breath of a child who is being removed from life-support systems at the request of his family, although the doctors did not suggest doing so. The ruling came last week in response to the query of a family of a child who was suffering from cancer.
Rabbi Aharon Aberman of the Lev Malka organization, which aids families in this situation, approached Rabbi Karelitz with the question, one among a number of subjects on which he sought guidance. The family asked if the child could gain some final merit through the utterance of the prayer, traditionally said in one's dying moments. Rabbi Karlitz, upon being told that the doctors did not say that he has only minutes to live, ruled that it was forbidden, explaining that by removing him from life support, the parents "are helping him shorten the life that was alloted to him from Heaven."