How can Jewish Canadians fix our abysmal rates of organ donation?

(Photo by JC Gellidon)

As a group, Jews have one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world. And as a country, Canada also ranks at the bottom of opt-in organ donations, well below other developed nations. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem, putting thousands of people on lengthy waiting lists for life-saving procedures. But the scarcity has existed long before COVID—and will persist afterwards.

There are numerous misconceptions about organ donation in Judaism, including misinterpretation of halachic law and cultural taboos. But what are the facts? What are the statistics like in Israel? How should Canadian Jews move forward, as provinces debate shifting from an opt-in to an opt-out system?

To discuss these issues are Robby Berman, the director and founder of the Halachic Organ Donor Society, and Elena Solomon, a Jewish woman in Toronto whose life depends on her finding a kidney donor soon.

What we talked about

  • Read Elena’s story on her blog
  • Learn about the Halachic Organ Donor Society at
  • Read “Navigating organ donation in Judaism” at


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Michael Fraiman is the producer. Andrew Goulet is the technical producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Find more great Jewish podcasts at