Chabad rabbi who gave kidney to stranger gives liver to another

New Jersey Chabad rabbi who donated one of his kidneys to a stranger now donates part of liver to another.

Marcy Oster, JTA ,

Rabbi Ephraim Simon, left, and recipient Adam Levitz
Rabbi Ephraim Simon, left, and recipient Adam Levitz

A New Jersey rabbi who a decade ago donated a kidney altruistically, has donated part of his liver.

Rabbi Ephraim Simon, a 50-year-old father of 9 who co-directs Chabad of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey, traveled to the Cleveland Clinic in mid-December to give part of his liver to Adam Levitz, a 44-year-old father of three from Long Island, New York, whose liver was damaged as a result of his Crohn’s disease. As of Jan. 1 he remained in Cleveland for observation following the surgery, the COLLIVE community news website reported.

The two men met for the first time shortly before they were taken to surgery in adjoining operating rooms. They both described the meeting as “emotional,” according to the report.

The rabbi had been trying to donate his liver since 2012. Since he had already donated a kidney he was considered a high risk candidate for surgery and many hospitals turned down his offer. In addition, gifts of organs to strangers are often viewed suspiciously and therefore rejected.

The surgeons said that Levitz’s liver was in worse shape than they had expected and that he might not have made it much longer.

“As a rabbi, I do a lot of talking about love, doing things for others and altruism,” Simon told COLLIVE. “This was my opportunity to do that and I didn’t want to let it go. Adam allowed me to actually give the gift of life, perhaps the greatest chessed, kindness, I can imagine.”