by Melanie Weiss

What’s in Your Wallet?

That Ominous Organ-Donation Card

Sitting at my parents’ kitchen table right after I got back from a year of study in England, my mother handed me a health care proxy form to fill out. (She’s a social worker, in the middle of a state-wide campaign to raise awareness about instructing others how you want to be treated should you be incapacitated.) Page two required me to sign on the dotted line to donate my organs, and I stopped short. Although I’ve called myself a Conservative Jew my whole life, it’s only been a year that I’ve started to pay closer attention to how Jewish law views what I classify as “The Important Stuff.” Matters pertaining to the end of life—especially when the life in question is mine—certainly qualify as “important.” “Hey. What’s the official halakhic deal with organ donation?” I asked, only to be reminded that, especially with a year in a British Jewish Studies department under my belt, I was the resident expert on issues of halakha. If I didn’t know, it was up to me to find out.

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