For the first time in Israel, an ultra-Orthodox woman will serve as a surrogate mother, after receiving authorization to do so from a rabbi.
The woman, a widowed mother from southern Israel, started making inquiries about the possibility of becoming a surrogate mother several years ago, seeking to help a childless couple bring a baby into the world.
But the woman was concerned of her neighbors' reactions should she become pregnant, and asked the Institute of Fertility and Medicine According to Halacha to arrange a halachic approval from a rabbi explaining her condition and guaranteeing she was not "promiscuous."
Rabbi Menachem Borshtein, head of the institute, said that such an approval was given by Rabbi Zalman Nehamia Goldberg, and this gave the woman the green light to continue with the procedure.
"She received the authorization of the Health Ministry's special committee, and after we found a suitable couple, the procedure is scheduled to start soon," said Borshtein.
'Purity in the womb of a Jewish mother'The couple in question has been trying to get pregnant for 12 years. Since they are ultra-Orthodox themselves, they were thrilled to learn that the surrogate mother is haredi as well.
"We are delighted that in the next nine months the baby will grow into an atmosphere of sanctity and purity in the womb of a Jewish mother. We are very excited and hope that, God willing, this will be the solution for the years of suffering we have endured," they said.
While the woman said she was motivated by the desire to help others, money certainly played part in her decision. The price tag of a "surrogacy package" stands at $50,000, with half the sum going directly to the surrogate mother.
"Currently 95% of the egg donations received come from abroad," said Prof. Arye Hurwitz, head of the IVF Unit at Hadassah Har Hatzofim Medical Center. "Passing a law that will expand the circle of donors and donations could make the treatment accessible for those who cannot currently afford it or for those who want the egg to come from a Jewish mother," he added.