With recent pronouncements from Orthodox authorities diverging in multiple directions, uncertainty reins on just when and under what conditions traditionally observant Jews may donate their vital organs to save others. Under strong fire, the country’s major Modern Orthodox rabbinic body is seeking to clarify its position on a study by its own authorities that is seen as casting doubt on whether Jews who are brain-dead may donate their vital organs for transplants. The same study, meanwhile upholds the right of Jews to receive such organs.7
In this congregation, there is an excerpt from Psalms set to a tune the rabbi picked up in a French monastery; a prayer for peace in Arabic, contributed by a Malaysian Muslim and an annual expedition to a nearby home for the disabled, to spread cheer. Your typical Jerusalem synagogue it is not.7
Amid growing fury on the Israeli right toward the country’s human rights groups, the Knesset has approved two motions aimed at examining whether there are skeletons in NGO closets. The separate but similar motions, submitted by the Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud parties, mandate a Knesset investigation of funding sources of left-leaning nongovernmental organizations. The motions, passed January 6 by large majorities, emerged from the Knesset’s two largest right-wing parties.10
Within three years, Taglit-Birthright Israel plans to be sending 50,000 young Jews to Israel annually on a free 10-day trip, thanks to a new $100 million commitment from the Israeli government. But this enhanced funding comes with a catch: North American Jews are on the hook to keep pace with the increase in Israeli grants — a tall order, as fundraising at Jewish federations continues to stagnate in the wake of the recession.
Three people who know knew Debbie Friedman, the prolific singer and performer who died on January 9, share their memories of her.
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