Death & Mourning

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-As a result of support from Shas, Israel now has a new law on organ donation. Although it requires complete cessation of breathing and brain activity, other religious parties objected, saying that brain-death is of no significance. (Haaretz)

-Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and other top haredi Ashkenazi rabbis have, in view of the new law, reiterated that even if the organs are intended for another “dangerously ill” person, “when the donor’s heart is beating and his brain, including the brain-stem, is not functioning at all, known as ‘brain-death,’ our opinion is that there is no permission to remove any organs and [to do so] constitutes shedding of blood,â€? i.e. murder. (Haaretz)

-When the person is at the edge of death, says Rabbi Avi Shafran “intercessions that will prolong sufferingâ€? are forbidden — but so is “the active removal of connected life-support systems or withholding of nourishment.â€? (The Jerusalem Post)

-When does a mourner complete the year of mourning during a leap year? Is it a full year, or twelve months (in two parts)? (The Jewish Press)

-Rabbi Pamela Wax, coordinator of the Westchester Jewish Community Services Jewish Spiritual Healing Center notes that the Jewish timeline of mourning might not work for everyone. “It’s never one size fits all.� Some Jewish organizations can provide more structured help. (The Jewish Week)

Posted on April 2, 2008

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