Have a Heart, Haredim

The other day I was perusing the news columns at my usual Evelyn Woods speed when an article made me stop for a fuller reading. It appears that the ultra-religious Eda Haredit group has decided that, based on their own interpretation of God’s word, people in need of organ transplantation are not entitled to them at all.

They were attending a hearing on transplantation at Hadassah Medical Center which was ostensibly held to inform several rabbis as to the religious precepts of organ donation and its benefits. However, instead of welcoming the achievements of modern medicine and supporting it unreservedly, they protested most vociferously to the point that Hadassah decided not to engage with patients of loved ones who were braindead and who could donate lifesaving organs of their loved ones to save another person’s life. Most, if not all Jews, know the maxim about saving the world by saving a single life; and yet it would appear that the members of Eda Haredit are not in need of organ transplants and don’t think you need one, either.

I have been told by medical professionals in Israel that when religious Jews need an organ transplant, they often arrange to have the organs from Israel sent to the U.S., because those organs are somehow more “kosher” than other organs; thus, they fly there and have their operations so they won’t be known to have had a transplant at all. How convenient for them. They are allowed to accept an organ if they need one, just not to give one when they are able. This creates an undue strain on the rest of the population to donate organs and those organs are in such high demand that people die waiting for new organs every single day. The ultra-religious refuse to donate their own organs because of that whole concept of “going out as you came in” theory. However, we are not talking about body art or piercings, we are talking about life-saving and life-extending organ transplants. If there really is a God, then I am pretty sure that she or he gave us the mental capacity to figure out how to perform such surgeries in the first instance. To deny the use of such scientific knowledge to save lives is precisely like denying that God exists.

In theory, no one should tell another human being what they can or must do with their own bodies. I would never presume to know more than any medical personage much less religious authority unless, of course, that individual was threatening my right to be alive.

Should you be a member of “Adi” and agree to donate your organs? Yes, you surely should. The State of Israel makes it easy for people to do so and has many worthwhile procedures in place to facilitate such endeavors. Should you really want to donate your viable organs to total strangers? Why not? You would help someone injured in a car accident, wouldn’t you, even if it meant endangering your own life? What difference does it make how you save another person’s life, as long as you do it? Why do I care that Eda Haredit is interfering in the lives of people who do not espouse their religious views? Because I have needed a new heart for five years and they don’t seem to have one handy. That’s why.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".