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Chabad Rabbi Donates Kidney, 'Act of Caring'

A Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi in New Jersey has donated his kidney to a Jewish man living on a secular moshav in Israel.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/12/2012, 1:37 PM

Waiting near an operating room at Wolfson Hospital
Waiting near an operating room at Wolfson Hospital
Flash 90 / archive

There were no microphones being shoved in 29-year-old Rabbi Avi Richler's face and no cameras snapping as he was being wheeled into the operating room. Neither did the husband and father of three, who is also the co-director of Chabad of Gloucester County, New Jersey, ask whether the Jewish recipient of the kidney he was about to donate was hareidi-religious like himself.

Recent headlines about the goings-on in Israel between fringe elements of the hareidi-religious and secular populations had, if anything, simply reinforced the rabbi's conviction that the world needs a little more "Ahavas Yisroel" -- love for one's fellow Jew -- and to "show we really mean it when we say we care about all Jews."

Richler had read about the man, also a father of three (who prefers to remain anonymous) in an online appeal by the Ahavas Chesed Medical Emergency Hotline, based in Brooklyn, NY. The recipient, it later turned out, lives on a secular moshav in Israel.

To the two men who are still recuperating from their respective surgeries, there is simply a sense of quiet satisfaction that one Jew saved the life of another who was suffering from end-stage renal disease.

Richler is not the first Chabad rabbi to donate a kidney in recent years. "Our attitude is every Jew is our brother," he explained in an interview with Lubavitch.com. "That sense of brotherhood is not limited to helping another Jew put on tefillin or kosher his home."

The rabbi's wife, Chabad of Gloucester co-director Mina Richler was unsurprised when he first approached her with his decision to donate his kidney.

"Some people are blessed financially and they give charity. Some donate their time. We've been blessed with good health," and a kidney to give to another, she said.

Both the recipient and the donor are reportedly doing well.