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Organ donation scheme is courageous

The JC
8th November 2012

By Rabbi Danny Rich

The principle of organ donation is barely controversial in the Jewish community. Authorities, from the most traditional to the most liberal, proceed from three basic premises.

The first, pikuach nefesh, or the saving of life, overrides virtually everything; the second, the concept of partnership (shotfot), recognises that God and human beings are partners in the natural world and people may intervene in the processes of nature.

Allied to these two is the idea given in the name of the third century Babylonian teacher, Samuel, that “when it comes to saving of human life we do not go by the majority” — understood by some to mean that in such cases, we are not governed by the rules of probability.

Having said that, there are issues on which authorities differ, including how to determine death and the question of consent.

In ideal circumstances, every person who dies, whether young or old, suddenly or as expected, would have discussed the possibility of organ donation and given clear instructions.

It remains the case that large numbers of people have not made their wishes known, which puts both medical practitioners and the bereaved into an impossible situation where they must make an immediate decision in the moment of crisis resulting in many potential life-saving organs not being used.

Estimates vary but it is thought that between 500 and 1,000 die in the UK each year for lack of a suitable organ.

The Welsh government has made a courageous decision to move to a scheme where consent is presumed.

Faith leaders warn over opt-out organ donor plan

The JC
8th November 2012

A proposed new policy on organ donation in Wales is causing consternation, with the Board of Deputies warning it could be the “thin end of the wedge” for Britain as a whole.

The Welsh government intends to switch to an “opt-out” system where doctors can presume that organs are available for transplant unless the deceased had indicated their objection — rather than the current “opt-in” where people carry donor cards declaring their consent.

Rabbinical opinion is divided over the move, which has drawn opposition from major churches in Wales and other faiths.

Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, head of the Federation Beth Din, said that it should “send alarm bells ringing throughout the Jewish world”.

The proposed legislation, he said, represented “a major shift in governmental thinking about human rights and interference in an individual’s personal property — his own body.

“It has no place in a democratic society, and sets a dangerous precedent that must be opposed”.

But Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich argued that the Welsh government had taken a “courageous decision” to change policy — which is likely to be debated by Welsh Assembly members early next year.  Read more

Change, by its very nature, causes mixed reactions

This is Bristol
30th October 2012

LEADERSHIP change is currently all the rage. In the US, the Presidential race looks like a close call; in Latin America, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is fighting to retain his Presidency and China's Communist Party will soon see the five-yearly re-shuffle of its ruling cadre.

Here in Bristol, we will shortly be electing a new Mayor and a new Police Commissioner; both firsts for the region. The impact of establishing new, or changing existing, structures, should never be underestimated, even for those that don't (or can't) participate in the electoral process itself. Change, by its very nature, causes mixed reactions in individuals and communities. Some embrace it, others fear it.

So it is that the Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Community also faces a time of change. Next weekend will see the inauguration of its new Rabbi, Monique Mayer, at a special ceremony in the community's synagogue in Easton. As well as community members, attendees will include other religious, community and legislative leaders from across Bristol and the South West.  Read more

Get your Liberal Judaism 5773 Diary

5th November 2012

Liberal Judaism has produced a diary for 5773 that all members can download today for FREE.

Just click here to get your copy, which can be viewed on your computer, tablet or phone or printed out.

The diary starts from this week and goes right up until next Rosh Hashanah, which is in September 2013.

It includes all the important dates for the coming year, such as Jewish festivals, British bank holidays and key upcoming Liberal Judaism and LJY-Netzer events.

It also includes a full lectionary, setting out the Torah readings for each Shabbat, and contacts for all Liberal Judaism's communities, staff and officers.

Best of all, it's totally FREE.

Download your copy today by clicking here.

Volunteer for our Rainbow Jews project

5th November 2012

Want to be part of an extraordinary project?

rj logoLiberal Judaism is seeking volunteers for its exciting ‘Rainbow Jews’ project, which aims to record and showcase Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history from the 1950s to today.

Earlier this summer, Liberal Judaism received a grant of nearly £60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to document the voices and experiences of Jewish LGBT people in the UK. That money will be used to record an oral history and create an archive.

Liberal Judaism is now recruiting London-based volunteers from ALL backgrounds to help with this landmark project. All that is required is commitment of 2-3 days each month until the project is completed in 2014. Full training will be provided.

To be part of this rewarding and fun experience and make a real difference, pleased contact

‘Rainbow Jews’ Project Manager Su Rath Knan on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it before November 19.

Su says: “Here at Liberal Judaism, we see volunteering more like a skills exchange. ‘Rainbow Jews’ volunteers are going to receive professional training in archiving, oral history recording and processing, transcribing and exhibition curating.

“We offer great value – and it’s going to be a lot of fun too!“

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