Editorial & Opinion

RCA Report Was Biased


Your article regarding the recent Rabbinical Council of America report on brain stem death and organ donations (Dec. 3) quoted RCA President Moshe Kletenick as saying that the report took no position and was designed to serve as an educational tool to assist local rabbis in studying the issue.

Spoke With Rabbi Feinstein


 Although I am not Jewish, I met with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in 1976 to discuss brain death and organ donation with him (“RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants,” Dec. 3). He told me that brain death was death according to the Talmud, and I reported his opinion in an article I wrote that was published on Oct. 10, 1977 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It is a pity the RCA’s document omitted mentioning my testimony that appears in video form on the website of the Halachic Organ Donor Society (www.hods.org).

Untenable Position


While I think that the halacha accepts brain death as death, and there is a halachic demand to donate organs, I respect those who disagree with me (“RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants,” Dec. 3).
But I find it impossible and halachically untenable for the Rabbinical Council of America rabbis to conclude that one can reject brain death and organ donation yet benefit from them. If it’s prohibited, then the RCA should announce that people should die and not try to save their life by taking someone else’s.

Advocacy With Reality


Having taught and directed a program in Israel-Arab studies for the last five years whose major focus is on presenting “both sides,” I can say that the approach works (“New Consensus Emerging On Israel Education,” Dec. 10).

Unlike pure “advocacy” approaches, we emphasize activism through empathy, which translates into having a thorough and complete understanding of the Palestinian Arab viewpoint.

Israel Education For Today


I heartily agree with the comment in Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Why I Don’t Share Beinart’s Pessimism” (Dec. 10) that our schools have neglected to transmit the narrative of the miraculous modern -day triumph “to be a free people in our land.”

The Fire Next Time


Both Michele Chabin’s article, “Focus Turns To Blame After Tragic Wildfire” (Dec. 10), along with Jeffrey Goldberg’s ivory tower argument that only Israel’s government should correct the situation (“Debate Over ‘Schnorring’ For Fire Trucks”), fall well-short in their perspectives, past and future.

Helping In Time Of Need


I feel that the headline, “Debate Over ‘Schnorring’ For Fire Trucks” (Dec. 10), and the article, were an insult to your readers. In answer to the question posed as to “why Jews in the Diaspora should absorb the firefighting costs...” the answer is in one word — tzedakah. Jews help Jews in time of need.

When Santa Comes To Town


I would like to respond to Elicia Brown’s column, “When Santa Comes To Town,” Back of the Book, Dec. 10).

Crying In The River


Candlelighting, Readings:
Shabbat candles: 4:15pm
Torah: Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftarah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
(Ashkenaz); Jeremiah1:1-2:3 (Sephard)
Shabbat ends: 5:18


Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman

Tzedakah: A Call To Action For Those Who Can

Special To The Jewish Week

Earlier this month, my family gathered for a festive Chanukah celebration. We shared a delicious meal, exchanged gifts and enjoyed the warm light of the Chanukah candles.

Yet for many in the Jewish community, Chanukah felt different. With not enough money to spend on gifts, put holiday food on the table or even pay the heating bill, these families went without special festivities, something that would have been unimaginable for many of them only a few years ago.

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