Jewish Support for Organ Donation

Sheba Medical Center plays a critical role in Israel’s active organ donation system. Every year, many lives are saved in our hospital through the modern miracle of organ retrieval and transplantation.

A Final Mitzvah

Judaism supports organ donation once death has been declared under the criteria of Jewish law.

Many rabbis view it as the ultimate final mitzvah that a person may perform before the World to Come. It’s the greatest chesed shel emet, a true act of kindness, because deceased donors can never have the favor returned to them by the person they’ve saved.

Israelis who choose organ donation have many motivations:

  • They see organ donation as an incredible mitzvah that will serve as a zechut, a great merit, for the deceased.
  • They wish to help prevent the unnecessary deaths of fellow members of society, in the giving spirit of solidarity, and reciprocity. They hope that if they would need a life-saving organ, someone would donate to them.
  • It is a source of great pride and comfort for families to know that life somehow emerged from the tragedy of their loved one’s death.

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate accepts “respiratory brain-death” as the halachic criterion for death. This approach allows for the donation of eight live-saving organs as well as cornea and tissues.


Protocol for Donation

A very strict protocol was established by the Israeli Medical Association, the Chief Rabbinate, and the Knesset to ensure that the public will have full confidence in the process of determining death under these standards. Donation is only considered after all efforts to save the patient’s life have failed. Respiratory brain death must first be declared by two physicians who have received specialized training and have performed extensive tests mandated by The Respiratory Brain Death Law, 2008.

Donation Statistics

According to The National Transplant Center in Israel, in 2023 there were 107 posthumous organ donors leading to 323 organ transplant surgeries.

Each year, more patients are added to the transplant waiting list, and the number of patients waiting continues to grow. As of January 2024, there are approximately 1,400 patients on the list.

Donated organs include heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines. Many others donate corneas, heart valves, tendons, and bones.

In Israel, organ recipients are prioritized solely based on medical need through a complex computer algorithm. The National Transplant Center maintains the list and matches the donor to the recipient. Gender, ethnicity, and religion play no role.  Israelis of different socioeconomic and religious backgrounds donate and receive organs.

Option 18 is the Jewish organ donor initiative sponsored by the organization Ematai.

To learn more about Jewish perspectives on organ donation, visit


From Tragedy to Hope: Roee’s Sacrifice and Gift of Life

Sheba joins friends and family in mourning for courageous IDF soldier Roee Nahari, who fell in battle defending Israeli civilians and saved even more by donating his heart.

Read Roee’s Story

The Families of Organ Donation

In these stirring videos, families of organ donors meet the people who were blessed by the final mitzvah of their loved ones.

Speak to your family about your support for organ donation

Over one million Israelis are already registered as organ donors.  We need more to sign up.

Register as an organ donor

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