Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar allowed a poor woman that went through five miscarriages to use a married surrogate to carry her child. The current Jewish and Israeli laws do not permit married women to serve as surrogates, and officials in Amar's office said that his decision represents a huge breakthrough.
The formal Surrogates Law, which was passed in 1996, rules that only unmarried women can serve as surrogates in Israel. Since the law was first legislated, the surrogacy committee at the Health Ministry approved 250 cases.
According to Jewish law, the problem of surrogacy is even bigger, as the newborn child of a surrogate mother is considered a bastard.
However, a few months ago Rabbi Amar was faced with a complicated case: He was presented with a request from a woman who told him that she had undergone five miscarriages during 13 years of marriage.
The woman claimed that she does not have the NIS 50,000 (USD 12000) required for a surrogacy. She also claimed that she met a married woman who is willing to carry her child for her free of charge.
After contemplating the case at length, Amar sent a latter to the committee permitting the surrogacy. The halachic jsutification was that it is the fetus that is being inserted into the surrogate's body, not the sperm.
Amar's ruling stirred a row in the rabbinical world. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed said in response that "this baby will live his life with a tag: 'Non-bastard according to Rabbi Amar'."