Organ donation, a Jewish perspective

Around 1700 Australians are on organ transplant waiting lists, waiting for a phone call with a matched organ offer, in any month. In 2014, 1117 people were given a second chance at life because of the generosity of 378 organ donors and their families. In the same year nearly 4,000 living and deceased tissue donors enabled over 5,500 Australians to receive essential skin, heart valve, bone and tendon tissue grafts.
Extensive consultation with religious and community leaders and research commissioned by the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) has shown that people from a number of cultural and religious communities in Australia are less likely to have made a decision about becoming a donor, or to have discussed their decision with their families.

For many observant Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews, the halachic prohibition of ending a life, or the requirement to return to the earth whole, may have influenced their attitude about the acceptability of donating organs after their death.

The Organ and Tissue Authority was established in 2009 to deliver the Australian Government’s national reform programme to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia. The ‘Donate Life…the greatest gift’ campaign was developed to provide culturally appropriate information about organ and tissue donation to religious and cultural communities and to help more people make an informed decision about organ and tissue donation.

In April 2015, the Sydney Beth Din released a position paper on organ donation after death. The position paper sets out the halachic considerations surrounding organ donation. Ms Yael Cass, Chief Executive Officer of the OTA, welcomes the release of the position paper as an important document that will support members of the Australian Jewish community to make an informed decision about supporting organ donation.

“ We hope that the position paper will help families understand the importance of discussing donation decisions with their families and to feel a sense of comfort that this ruling, or psak, provides support for their decision to proceed with donation in the event of brain death – a decision which is the ultimate act of giving to save the lives of others.”

The paper seeks to reconcile the fundamental Judaic principles of saving a life, and the prohibition against taking a life. This statement by the Beth Din members Rabbi’s Gutnick, Ulman and Chriqui considers the various opinions of halachic ‘death’ as that which occurs when either the heart or the brain fail to function. The statement contends that though both opinions carry halachic weight, the Sydney Beth Din will facilitate halachic organ donation for those families choosing to proceed with donation when their loved one has died following the respiratory brain death pathway.

Ms Cass has spent nearly 30 years working on the development of social policy, with a special emphasis on health funding, service delivery, program evaluation and reform. A key priority of the OTAs over the last two years has been close consultation and engagement with religious and cultural leaders, as respected advocates with their communities, to promote a broad understanding of each religion’s perspective on the merit and benefit of organ donation for transplantation – and the real need for individuals to make a decision about being a donor, ensuring that their family knows and committing to honour the wishes of their loved ones if the rare opportunity to be an organ donor arises.

Ms Cass will address the Plenum alongside Rabbi Ulman who will discuss the Beth Din’s position on organ donation.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum meeting takes place on Tuesday June 16 at 7.30pm.

 

Forum on child abuse in Sydney

Bettina Cass
Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO.

Over 50 members of the community have signed up for the forum on child abuse which has been organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies June.

It is being held by the Task Force on Child Protection, which the Board of Deputies has set up to focus on the protection of children in Jewish communal institutional settings.

The Task Force is headed by University of NSW Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO, who chairs the Board’s Social Justice Committee and contains eminent members of our community who specialise in child protection.
The Task Force will develop and roll-out workshops that will focus on child safety policies and practices, the prevention of child abuse, procedures to protect children against abuse within Jewish institutional and community settings and the mandatory obligation to report to police. The workshops will expand the concept of child protection to include all abuse of children and young people, sexual, emotional and physical.

The workshops will also cover:
(a) advice for professional counselling and training for organisations about Child Safe policies and practices
(b) services for survivors of abuse and their families
(c) developing and widely disseminating across all organisations within the NSW Jewish community a set of agreed protocols for child protection, child safe policies and practices
(d) guidelines for mandatory reporting to the police.
It will also work to ensure that the lessons of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse are learned that meaningful grassroots change is implemented – which is the objective of next week’s workshop.
For those still wishing to register, please contact Mary Guth mary@nswjbd.com or phone 9360 1600. The workshop will t5ake place on Sunday June 21 from 10am to 1pm.

The members of the taskforce and its advisors are:

Chair, Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO of the University of NSW and Chair of the Board’s Social Justice Committee;

Dr Cathy Kezelman, President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, who worked actively with the ECAJ during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;

Caroline Haski, Registered Psychologist with extensive experience in working with survivors of trauma and their families;

Dr Paul Joshua, Conjoint lecturer in the School of Women’s and children’s Health at the University of NSW, who has worked as a Fellow in child protection;
Judith Levitan, solicitor, social worker and a founding member of the Jewish Alliance Against Family Violence;

Rebbetzin Deborah Blackman, social worker, founding member of the Jewish Alliance Against Family Violence and Founder of EduCARE, which is developing programs on child protection policies and procedures for schools, synagogues and other organisations across the Jewish and broader communities;

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of The Jewish House; and

Richard Spencer, Acting CEO of JewishCare, which has responsibility for providing community education, counselling and advice with respect to Child Safe policies and practices in the Jewish community.

In addition, Brian Babington, CEO of Families Australia and convener of the Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia’s Children, has agreed to serve as an advisor to the Task Force.

Parliamentary Friends of Israel relaunched

Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton MP, Jeremy Spinak, Bruce Notley-Smith MP, RIchard Balkin
Vic Alhadeff, Gabrielle Upton MP, Jeremy Spinak, Bruce Notley-Smith MP, Richard Balkin.

The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel was relaunched in Parliament House recently with Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith MP elected the new chair. He succeeds Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton MP, who served as chair for the past four years.

Walt Secord MLC was re-elected deputy chair. With approximately 50 members from multiple parties, the group is the largest parliamentary friendship group in the NSW Parliament.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak and CEO Vic Alhadeff and Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin attended the relaunch, which was necessitated by the fact that a general election has been held.

Addressing the group, Upton recounted the work of the Friendship Group over the past four years, including signing the London Declaration Against Antisemitism and hosting numerous overseas speakers.

Lunch with Dan Brotman, South Africa-Israel Forum Director

Dan Brotman, Executive Director of the South Africa Israel Forum, was our guest speaker at a luncheon club co-hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Founded in 2008 by the late Mendel Kaplan, SAIF takes top non-Jewish young political leaders and young entrepreneurs to Israel (YoungTreps), in partnership with corporates such as Investec and Growthpoint Properties, and private philanthropists such as Eric Samson, Jonathan Beare and Morris Kahn.

This year alone they are taking 100 young South African entrepreneurs and a delegation of ANC Youth League leaders to Israel.

Dan was accompanied by Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Corporate Social Investments at Investec, and Phakiso Tsotetsi, one of the young entrepreneurs who has participated in the program.

1300 at Yom Hashoah

About 1300 people packed the Recital Hall at Angel Place to commemorate 70 years since the Holocaust and the Liberation from the Nazi camps.

A strong delegation of diplomats and politicians joined ethnic and faith leaders and members of the Jewish community at the moving ceremony. Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP, the keynote speaker. described his experience representing Australia at a ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau this year, where a number of his family members perished.

Hans Korten, the son of a Dutch couple who sheltered and saved the life of a young Jewish girl, was presented with a Righteous Among the Nations medal on behalf of his parents by Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel on behalf of Yad Vashem.

Organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the ceremony also featured testimonies by survivors Flore Jaku, Ibi Wertheim and Eva Grinston.

Turning a dream in to reality

Genevieve Radnan from Gennarosity Abroad addressed the March Plenum

I’m Genevieve Radnan, 23, born and raised in Sydney Australia. I graduated from the Emanuel School in 2009 and after completing the HSC I went to volunteer in Karunga, a small village 2.5 hours north west of Nairobi.

I began volunteering on a teaching and building program which introduced me to a small kindergarten made of cardboard and wood. As I have always had a passion for working with children, I couldn’t help but notice how the primary school on the same campus was being built with bricks but the Kindy was left untouched. When I first asked who owned it, I was told a local Church did. I didn’t want to interfere with any religious activities. However, after my first trip consisting of 6 weeks, I went back to Kenya for a further 6 months. As I am a curious person, I persisted with the Kindy and found out that it had been built 30 years ago and no one was responsible for it.

I asked the builders to please give me a quote as to how much it would cost which they replied $2,500. I sent an email back home in Australia asking for people to help donate money to build a new Kindy. Not only were we able to build a new one, we were able to build one 2.5 times larger than the original, attached a teachers office and water tank, provided new tables, desks and chairs, built in glass windows and most importantly a swing set for the children to play on.

Once accomplishing Karunga’s Emanuel Kindergarten in 2010 at the age of 19, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I want to help design project in developing countries to help provide better opportunities for their communities.

Throughout my time in Karunga in 2010, I met a young boy called Sammy who was malnourished compared to the other students who went to Karunga’s Primary School. Again, I’m a curious person and asked to meet his family. He is one of 8 children. His mother, Zipporah is illiterate and uneducated never attending school in her life. His father worked casually earning less than $1 if he worked and was an alcoholic who died in September 2011. Since meeting this family, I now sponsor them sending all the children old enough to go to school and provide them with food weekly.

Zipporah inspired me. I wanted to help not only her, but other women in similar circumstances. This is when I designed Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre. 40 women and girls above the age of 12 are selected annually and are taught the skills of sewing and tailoring along with English and Swahili, Kenya’s national languages, maths, financial literacy, business studies and health education.

Grandma Jenny’s Training Centre opened in 2013 and we have had 2 graduation days since. When visiting Kenya over the most recent December holidays, I was able to meet some of the 2013 graduates and visit the businesses they opened.

What was a dream back in 2010 has become a reality. I’ve been able to help some of the most vulnerable women in the community and empower them through education and skills to better their lives. I couldn’t have done this without the support of the Emanuel Community and especially the Emanuel School.

University of Sydney issue

AUJS is awaiting the outcome of an investigation being conducted into the conduct of University of Sydney Associate Professor Jake Lynch after protesters disrupted an address by British Colonel Richard Kemp.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have been playing a supportive role in terms of AUJS’ handling of the issue.
The university has issued “show cause” letters to Associate Professor Lynch, five students and two contractors, as well as five members of the public as part of its inquiry into whether they may have contravened University Codes of Conduct. The university has received 386 letters of complaint in relation to the incident and has reviewed photographs and videos.

Vice-chancellor Dr Michael Spence acknowledged that a number of complaints had been received, and that the university is “treating these complaints very seriously”.

“Any finding that an individual has acted contrary to university codes or policies will be determined in accordance with the procedure relevant to the status of that individual as staff member, affiliate, student or visitor to the university,” he said.

AUJS national chair Dean Sherr has lodged a formal complaint with the Vice-Chancellor in relation to the incident.

ADB refers hate speech to Attorney-General

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak has lodged a complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) against Islamist extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in response to two virulently antisemitic speeches delivered by spiritual leader Ismail al-Wahwah. The complaint calls for Wahwah be prosecuted under Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, which prevents publicly threatening physical harm against a race of people or inciting others to threaten physical harm.

A video of a rally held in Lakemba on July 25, 2014 depicts Wahwah accusing Jews of corruption and referring to them as “a hidden evil”. He also encouraged jihad saying: “This mission will be accomplished by none but you, O Muslims … The ember of jihad against the Jews will continue to burn.” A second speech, posted on March 3, 2015, depicted Wahwah describing Jews as “the most evil creature of Allah”.

The ADB has recommended that the Attorney-General request the Director of Public Prosecutions to lay a charge against Wahwah.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane further added that “Racial hatred has no place in our society. It is deeply disturbing to see extremists spreading their messages of hate.”