In order to encourage religious Israelis to participate in organ donation, Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger and the Chief Rabbinate's Council will issue special organ donor cards which will allow harvesting only according to the strictest letter of Jewish law.
Organ donation has long been a controversy in the religious world because of Jewish laws pertaining to the burial of deceased persons with all of their body parts and fluids and the juxtaposed need to use healthy organs in order to save lives.
An in depth halachic (Jewish law) investigation is being concluded by the Chief Rabbinate, according to a report by Israeli newspaper Yediot Acharonot.
Though a law was passed in 2008 requiring brain death to harvest organs, as well as the usage of specific medical methods and instruments to confirm brain and respiratory death and to perform the extractions, many rabbis and their adherents feel the halachic questions have not been answered to enable them to be comfortable supporting organ donation or donating their own organs.
Now, organ donor cards distinct from the National Transplant and Organ Donations Center (ADI) card will be geared toward religious potential donors, ensuring them that their organs will only be donated according to careful Torah and rabbinic stipulations. Rabbi Metzger is seeking a halachic seal of approval from the Chief Rabbinate's Council for the card.
However, some rabbis may still withhold their approval, asserting that cardiac death, and not brain and respiratory death, should be the criteria for organ donation.
The rabbinate will hold a special seminar on organ donation for 40 top rabbis, meant to provide them with tools to council and guide families through the painful spiritual and medical process of submitting their deceased loved ones' organs for life saving procedures.