Recently I posted an entry entitled “When Does Death Begin, According to Halacha?” about a long awaited paper which the Rabbinical Council of America’s Vaad Halacha recently published. It turns out that it’s not just the RCA that has recently revisited “brain death” and organ transplantation in halakha, nor was their opinion piece long in the making. Turns out that British Jewry has been grappling with the same issue. The Chief Rabbi’s and London Beth Din’s rulings had yet to be published, as of last summer.
However, while the RCA’s paper is billed as a research paper and an educational tool, the London Beth Din’s decision is supposed to be an actual halakhic ruling from a national organization in a country with a significant Jewish population, making it particularly interesting.
The founder of a campaign to encourage Orthodox Jews to carry organ donor cards has voiced frustration at the time taken by the Chief Rabbi to issue new guidelines on the subject.
Mr Berman, who lives in Jerusalem, said that after meeting the Chief Rabbi in March 2009, he had agreed not to lecture on organ donation in the UK until the Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din decided their position in the summer.
Arguing there had been no major new developments on organ donation in medicine or Jewish law over the past decade, he declared: “I hope this review will not drag on for years, as I fear it will. This issue is of an urgent life-saving nature and should be given priority.”
A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Rabbi said for the past 12 months, the London Beth Din had been engaged “in careful consideration” of organ donations and living wills.
Can anyone report whether the Beth Din has meanwhile issued this ruling?
One wonders whether one of the things the Beth Din was waiting for was the RCA’s paper, as it significantly contributes to the field by documenting the medical conditions the landmark published halakhic responsa responded to.