MedicinesIsrael news photo: Flash 90

In preparation for Yom Kippur, an organization headed by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, chairman of the Badatz (High Rabbinical Court) of Bnei Brak, has established a halakhic (Jewish law) hotline for individuals who want to know if they should be taking their medications on Yom Kippur, or if they can travel to the hospital.

According to most authorities, medicine may be taken on Yom Kippur only in the event that there is a serious risk to the patient's health if they do not take their medication.

Eating and drinking is forbidden on Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the Jewish year, and sometimes people who feeling ill or faint during the fast will refuse to eat or drink anything, even if their doctor recommends they do. Questions also arise about whether or not an individual may be driven to the hospital on Yom Kippur; many people who need medical treatment try to hold out until the end of the fast, unless they are specifically told by a rabbi or an observant doctor that they need to get to the hospital.

Often, such extremes are not called for under Jewish law.

In order to alleviate these issues, Rabbi Karelitz, together with officials of Ichud Hatzalah and the Leumit Health fund, have set up a hotline to allow medical workers and others to get instructions on how to handle medical situations on Yom Kippur. Medical personnel who are tasked with caring for specific individuals, or are on emergency call, will be able to present specific situations and circumstances to hotline staff, and get guidance on what halakhic principles apply and what they need to do under those circumstances.

A spokesperson for Ichud Hatzalah welcomed the project, saying that volunteers for the organization often had questions on what do do regarding Yom Kippur medical issues. Rabbis Efraim Rosenstein and Yehuda Eidelman of the Leumit health fund stressed that the service was open to all individuals, not just members of their HMO

The hotline will operate evenings during the days before Yom Kippur, between 7 and 10 PM, and can be reached in Israel at 0722-722-350.