Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – welcomed actions taken by the U.S. Congress and President Bush to open the opportunity for a federal court to review the issues associated with the case of Ms. Terri Schiavo.
UOJCA Leaders issued the following statement:
Jewish tradition holds the preservation of human life as one of its supreme moral values. It takes precedence over virtually all other moral values. Nevertheless, Judaism — acutely linked to the reality of the human condition – realizes there are circumstances in which a person might long for death. Even with this appreciation of our human reality, Jewish Law does not reduce the mandate that we preserve life, even under the most challenging conditions.
Judaism does not support “physician assisted suicide” nor does it support the withdrawal of life support from critically ill persons, as we recognize that even those who suffer the most severe physical and mental disabilities bear the Divine Image.
While the UOJCA believes that American law must be sensitive to the fact that decisions in cases such as Ms. Schiavo’s must primarily rest in the hands of family members in consultation with their clergy and doctors, the law enacted by Congress and signed by the President does nothing more than ensure that a fresh review of this tragic case will be conducted by a federal court. Inasmuch as Ms. Schiavo’s life is at stake and decisions regarding it are irreversible, the further review of her case is the most prudent course of action.