January 7: The gift of Life

Everyone is prepared, in case of need, to accept an organ, but not everyone is prepared to donate one.

The gift of life
Sir, – We learn in “YU ethics expert censures attempts by rabbis to overrule science in brainstem death” (January 5) that the family of soccer legend Avi Cohen prevented the donation of his organs – despite his ADI organ-donor card – because another former soccer player, now haredi, and his rabbi contended that donating Cohen’s organs would amount to murdering him.
Everyone is prepared, in case of need, to accept an organ, but not everyone is prepared to donate one. As a result, people die because of the lack of a transplantable organ.
The misguided decision to prevent the donation of Cohen’s organs can thus be construed as the murder of people who died for want of a transplantable organ.
Beit Zayit
The writer is a registered organ donor with ADI
Sir, – A number of years ago I read an article by the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits. He suggested that the donation of a kidney or other organ from a deceased relative was a double mitzva: First, with the donation, one was giving a new life to an exceedingly sick person with hardly any quality of life.
Second, instead of decaying in the ground with the rest of the body, the organ would live on in the body of the recipient.
In other words, part of the deceased remained alive.
Petah Tikva
A great rabbi dies
Sir, – I find it extraordinarily curious that while you expend precious column inches on all kinds of political shenanigans as well as minor events like a protest drive by motorists protesting gas price hikes, you did not think fit to mention the passing of a great and influential rabbinic sage, Rabbi Yissochor Meir z”l of Netivot, who passed away last Friday night. (Full disclosure: He was my uncle).
Rabbi Meir, who was 83 at the time of his death, made the desert bloom in both the spiritual and the physical sense. He built a great yeshiva in Netivot, Yeshivat Hanegev of Azata. He constructed a whole educational village in the town – a boys’ school, a girls’ school, a girls’ seminar – and he provided housing for his students. It is doubtful that Netivot would have become the city it did without the development of his educational initiative.
But Rabbi Meir did not stop there. He built schools and yeshivot in Sderot long before it was a popular spot for missiles or media personalities, as well as in Tifrach and lately in Moshav Zerua. And all this was not enough.
Shortly before his last illness, because he always fancied a challenge, he started building a whole new city in the Negev: Kassif.
Before he ever arrived in Netivot, he set up a yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland, and then went on at great personal risk to build yeshivot and schools in Casablanca and Tangier.
During all this work and self-sacrifice, Rabbi Meir was given full back-up and support by his wonderful wife, Judith, may she live a long and healthy life.
The reason so few knew about all this is because Rabbi Meir was a very modest and self-effacing man who never got involved in the swamp of Israeli politics.
His funeral on Sunday was enormous. Some 35,000 people attended.
The entrances to Netivot were closed off to motorists. Police and the Border Police, including a helicopter, provided crowd control. There were over two hours of wonderful and emotional eulogies.
Petah Tikva
In “Israelis hit the slopes as ski vacation season gets under way” (December 6), Eli Drechler, CEO of Interhome, was reported to have said that prices for vacation units in European ski resorts started from 300 euros per couple, per night. The prices were in fact for a week-long vacation. The Jerusalem Post regrets the error.