Halachic Organ donor Society, 3926 W. Touhy Ave, Suite #365, Lincolnwood, IL, 60712-1028. Phone: 646-599-3895, Email: office@hods.org


Below are documents and articles about the halachic and medical issues surrounding organ donation. The HOD Society strongly recommends that readers review at least the first 5 articles, in order to best understand the major issues, especially the debate regarding the moment of death. Please note that not all articles listed below are written by halachic authorities.

  1. Resource Packet for Lecture on Brain Stem Death Organ Donation
    Download: English
  2. Source Sheet New June 2015
    Download: French
    Download: English
  3. Takeaway and Quiz Final
    Download: English
  4. Chief Rabbi of England and London Beth Din
    Download: English (2011)
    London Beth Din rejects brain death and Chief Rabbi Sacks remains ambiguous as to his own personal opinion.
  5. Clarification of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
    Download: English (2011)
    Rabbi Sacks’ clarifies that there are two valid halachic opinions about brain death and he states his intention to carry an organ donor card if certain unstated changes are made to it.
  6. Chief Rabbinate of Israel: Ruling on Organ Donation
    Download: English (1986)
    English and Hebrew
  7. Living Will: Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
    Download: English (1991)
    In this document one can see implicit acceptance of brain-stem death as death in that it supports heart donations.
  8. RCA Halachic Health Care Proxy
    Proxy and Directive With Respect to Health Care and Post-Mortem Decisions
    Download: English (2010)
  9. RCA Resolution
    Download: English (1991)
    RCA resolution adopting its Living Will document that accepts brain-stem death as halachic death.
  10. Religion Notes: Ari Goldman
    Download: English (1991)
    Ari Goldman reports on RCA convention where its members discuss brain-stem death and understand it to mean halachic death and support organ donation.
  11. Living Will: Agudath Israel of America (Agudah)
    Download: English
    For latest version of Agudah’s Living Will call 212-797-9000. To find a prior version for the purpose of research, you may find it in our “Articles” database.
  12. Confirmation of Neurological Death
    Download: English
    This document outlines the Candadian Transplantation’s medical requirements to determine brain-stem death.
  13. Living Will and Power of Attorney In Hebrew for Israel
    Download: English
    Advanced medical directives in Hebrew.
  14. Uniform Determination of Death Act
    Download: English (1980)
    Approved by the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association.
  15. National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA)
    Download: English (1984)
    Here it is amended in 2008.
  16. Defining Death: Medical, Legal and Ethical Issues in the Determination of Death
    Download: English (1981)
    President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Ethical Issues in the Determination of Death, Goverment Printing Office, 1981
  17. A Definition of Irreversible Coma
    Download: English (August 5, 1968)
    Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical Committe for the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death. Published in JAMA.
  18. Sephardic Ruling on Brain-Death by Rabbi Amar
    Download: Hebrew (2008)
    Sephardic Rabbi Chief Amar writes that he and Rav Ovadiah Yosef accept brain-stem death as halachic death and support organ donation.
  19. Organ Transplantation Israeli Law
    Download: English Hebrew (2008)
    Hebrew Document: Israeli Government Law
  20. Rabbi Soloveitchik’s Position
    Download: English (1991)
    Letter written to Rabbi Marc Angel when he was president of the RCA by Rabbi Aharon Soloveitchik and Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky. Note that in the letter they never say they heard the Rav state that he rejected brain death. Just that as far as they knew “he never issued a halachic decision on brain death.” That could mean that he accepted brain death and never “issued” his decision or that after he said he wasn’t taking a position – to them, years later he had his conversation with Rabbi Walfish and he took a position given the new APNEA test. Also important to note that in Rabbi Walfish’s video testimony he says in the video that the Rav understood Yoma to mean that only respiration mattered and in the conversation with Rabbi Walfish he said that if the new APNEA test could confirm lack of respiration coupled with unconsciousness then that would satisfy him that the person is dead according to halacha.
  21. Future Market: the Sale of Human Body Parts
    Download: English (n/a)
    Author: Samuel Jellinek, JD.
    Published in: Greene Fund for Equity Studies
    Subject: Equitable Distribution of Human Organs for Transplantation.
  22. RCA “End of Life” guidelines
    Download: English (2009)
    Numbers 9 and 10 relevant to organ donation
  23. Letter ADI to Health Ministry
    Download: English (2009)
    A letter (in Hebrew followed by English translation) from ADI requesting permission from the Israeli Health Ministry to recognize ADI as an official non-profit organization that allows it to offer up to 50,000 shekel to families of deceased organ donors. This download also includes the response from the Minister of Health agreeing to the request (in Hebrew followed by English translation).
  24. Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism
    Download: English (2008)
  25. Rav Ovadiah Yosef on Brain Death
    Download: English Hebrew (2010)
  26. Official Guidelines for Organ Allocation in Israel
    Download: English Hebrew (2011)Based on this clause the Israel Transplant Center steering committee has issued a very detailed plan according to which the various organs will be allocated with priority to card holders. This detailed plan will be published soon in Rashumot (the official governmental publication).
  27. Tests to See if Patient is Potential Kidney Receipient
    Download: English Hebrew (2011)
    For more information, go to our web page on Living Kidney Donors: www.hods.org/hods-activities/living-organ-donor/living-kidney-donor/.
  28. Tests to See if You are Eligible to be a Live Kidney Donor
    Download: English Hebrew
    For more information, go to our web page on Living Kidney Donors: www.hods.org/hods-activities/living-organ-donor/living-kidney-donor/.
  29. Agudath Israel of America NY – The Halachic Medical Directive
    Proxy and Directive with Respect to Health Care and Post-Mortem Decisions
    For Use in New York State
    Download: English (2011)
  30. HODS Educational Pamphlet
    Download: English (2004)
  31. PowerPoint Presentation
    Download: English (2012)
  32. Australian Govt – DCD Explanation of Donation after Cardiac Death
    Download: English (2010)
  33. Australian Govt – National Protocol
    Download: English (2010)
  34. Rav Walfish Testimony about Rav Soloveitchik
    Download: English (2013)
  35. Hearing Transcript of NOTA
    Download: English (1983)
  36. NYS Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry Specification Form
    Download: English (2016)
  37. Determination of Brain Death by Clinical Examination
    Download: English (2018)
  38. AST.ORG – Donors with Stones by Dr. David Serur
    Download: English
  39. Tanya Chapter 51
    Download: English
  40. Jewish Advance Healthcare Directive – Cedars-Sinai
    Download: English (2018)
  41. HODS Website Privacy Policy
    Download: English
  42. HODS List of Accomplishments for 2017
    Download: English
  43. HODS List of Accomplishments for 2016
    Download: English
  44. HODS List of Accomplishments for 2015
    Download: English
  45. HODS Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy
    Download: English
  46. How to Qualify for Social Security Benefits After an Organ Transplant If you have had an organ transplant you are medically qualified for up to a year of disability benefits. Download: English
  47. A Law-Abiding Jew Can Sign An Organ Donor Card in Agreement With Ones Rabbi. Download: Hebrew
  48. 7 Myths About Jewish Burial
    Download: English