Youth Who Rejected Treatment is Dead at 19 of Throat Cancer

A young man who won backing from Israel’s High Court of Justice two years ago for his rejection of compulsory chemotherapy treatment died of throat cancer over the weekend. He was 19.

Itzik Blass died at Hadassah-Hebrew University Hospital in Ein Kerem on the eve of Sukkot.

Blass, who became a ba’al teshuvah, or newly religious Jews, during a sojourn in the United States, was a subject of national attention two years ago when he refused treatment from his doctors and asked the High Court to order his release from a closed hospital ward, where he was being held “a virtual prisoner, against my will.”

The court granted his request. Blass thereupon slipped out of the country against his parents’ wishes and found shelter in New York and Boston with members of the Orthodox Jewish community, who helped him receive alternative medical treatment.

He said he was strengthened in his resolve to reject chemical and other conventional treatment for cancer by blessings bestowed on him by the Lubavitcher rebbe and others. He himself became an Orthodox Jew, undertaking religious studies.

Persuaded by his mother to return home, he steadfastly continued to refuse conventional anti-cancer therapy. In an interview Wednesday with Israel Radio, his mother said he had shown surprising recovery, obtaining a driver’s license and driving about the country. She said he bought a surfboard and spent a lot of time at the beach.

Shortly before the High Holidays, he was stricken with severe pain and went to the hospital, where, his mother complained, doctors bluntly told him that he had only a few days to live and should return home to die among his family. He died at the hospital Sunday.

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