How Judaism's definition of death can boost organ donations

BBC NEWS | Lipika Pelham

Talmudic law governs life among observant Jewish people
When Robert Berman, an Orthodox Jew from the US, settled in Jerusalem, he was not prepared for the strong resistance to his argument for organ donation from some sections of the society.

To advance his cause he has had to engage in the most profound and tricky discussions on religion and death.

Many Orthodox rabbis have described the act of taking organs from a brain-dead person as retzicha - tantamount to murder.

This view is also supported by some non-religious Jews who have been brought up with the tradition of protecting the wholeness of the human body.

In the modern Jewish state of Israel, this remains a controversial and emotive topic.

The country has one of the world's most sophisticated medical systems but a decade ago it was expelled from the European Union donor scheme for taking organs but not providing many. Only 3% of the population had donor cards. Continue reading
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