A rabbis' project encouraging organ donations will not take place at the Hadassah Medical Center following an explicit request from the leader of the extremist Eda Haredit organization.
As first reported by Ynet's local news portal, Mynet, Hadassah doctors and about 50 rabbis gathered recently for a seminar aimed at encouraging families to donate their deceased loved one's organs.
During the seminar, which was held at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem, the doctors explained to the rabbis about the human body systems and about the scientific and medical possibilities of donating organs, and the rabbis offered halachic solutions which would make such donations possible.
According to hospital officials, the initiative aimed to train rabbis to stand by the families when the patients are proclaimed brain-dead and help them make the tough decision to donate their organs.
Following the report, leaflets against the hospital were distributed in the city's haredi synagogues, claiming that Hadassah was working to "harvest patients' lives." The anger stemmed from a halachic dispute between strict ultra-Orthodox scholars and other rabbis who are more lenient regarding the issue of determining the time of death.
Meanwhile, the hospital was approached by associates of the Eda Haredit leader, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, who demanded that the project be stopped immediately. According to one of the associates, the hospital rabbi accepted the demand.
A Hadassah official with knowledge of the details confirmed that the project would not take place in the hospital, saying that "rumors were spread in the haredi sector that Hadassah was holding rabbinical conferences, and all kinds of irrational elements were brought into the affair."
After a clarification talk, the parties agreed to continue their cooperation without offering the hospital patients any rabbinical guidance.
Hadassah offered the following comment: "We never assumed the task of training rabbis to be at the families' side during the time of death. Hadassah holds a dialogue with all layers of the public in Jerusalem, including the haredi public and its different streams.
"Hadassah holds a productive halachic and communal dialogue with members of the Eda Haredit organization. Halachic issues are regularly clarified with its leader and we always see his rulings in individual and general cases before our eyes."