Are Orthodox Jews Really Not Allowed to Accept Blood from Women, Non-Orthodox Jews, and Non-Jews?

I saw this eye-popping headline in my inbox and on Twitter the other day:

Rabbi bans Orthodox Jewish men from taking blood donated by women, non Orthodox Jews, non Jews

The article, which was written by Ryan Lee Hall for YourJewishNews.com, went on to explain that an unnamed rabbi had written about this in a new book:

“Non Orthodox Jews eat bugs, therefore their blood is tainted. Also, as we all know, men and women need to stay segregated, therefore a Jewish man should not take blood even from a Jewish woman,” the rabbi wrote in his new book called, “With Blood You Shall Live.”

This new religious book deals with Jewish laws with regards to blood donations. “Those people eating bugs and meat from dead animals lose their mind, therefore getting blood from such a person will cause the Orthodox Jew to lose their mind as well,” the rabbi wrote.

The source for that information, linked to in the article above, appeared to go into a little more depth… but it’s hard to tell since it’s in Hebrew. I would offer you a rough translation instead, but even that makes little sense. However, the Hebrew article does mention a link to the Israeli blood donation group Lev Malka.

Over the weekend, I contacted Lev Malka to see if there was any truth to the original headline. A spokesperson gave me a very definitive response (which I’ve edited for grammar and clarity below):

In the name of Lev Malka, this is a total fabrication, and misrepresentation of the facts mainly due to erroneous translation of the Hebrew source. Note that there are no references cited for the so-called Rabbi’s ban on donating or receiving blood from the opposite gender.

Quite the contrary, our organization is the largest independent blood donor of Magen David Adom [Israel's emergency blood bank service], to which we have donated over 21,000 pints of blood. We conduct blood drives in Yeshivahs, girls’ schools, banks, medical clinics, and many other public places. We do these for men and women simultaneously, with the proper separation, as per the Halacha requirements. We collect on average 600-700 portions of blood at each such event.

We never ask the recipients of the blood their gender or affiliation. We have no interest in creating our own blood bank as the article insinuates.

Do you think the recipient of blood or a heart, kidney, or other transplant has to check where it came from? This is basic [Pikuach Nefesh, and] there are no discussions about this by any reputable Rabbi.

So that should settle it. Ryan Lee Hall didn’t fact check his work. And atheists need to stop spreading this article around as an example of religious beliefs run amok.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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