JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Chief Rabbinate agreed that a Knesset bill calling brain death the end of life is acceptable under Jewish law.
The state’s official rabbinic body expressed its unanimous approval for the measure on Tuesday. The bill, proposed by Kadima lawmaker Otniel Schneller, says a person should be considered dead when brain stem activity stops.
In the past, leading rabbis have said that a person is dead at the moment of clinical death, when the heart stops.
Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef have issued halachic rulings recognizing brain death as the end of life, Ha’aretz reported. But their rulings are different than that of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, head of the Charedi Ashkenazi faction, who believes that if a patient’s heart is beating he cannot be disconnected from life support.