Resolution in Support of Stem Cell Research and Education

WHEREAS there is a serious shortage of organs available for transplantation, leading to thousands of deaths each year;

WHEREAS serious illnesses and conditions leading to disability and often death may be ameliorated or cured through new technologies;

WHEREAS the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards overwhelmingly approved a teshuvah “Stem Cell Research” (by Rabbi Elliot Dorff) which permits using human embryonic cells from aborted fetuses and embryonic stem cells from frozen human embryos originally created for procreation but now about to be discarded “for research into creating cures for a number of human ailments”;

WHEREAS the teshuvah further permits creating stem cells for research by combining donated sperm and eggs in a Petri dish, by cloning, or by extracting a cell from an early embryo, under specific conditions;

WHEREAS the teshuvah limits itself to research for therapeutic purposes and not enhancement; 

WHEREAS the teshuvah also calls for education of our laity regarding donation of an aborted fetus or unused frozen embryos for the purpose of such life-saving research;

WHEREAS Reform and Orthodox public policy groups and rabbis agree with this position and support well-monitored embryonic stem cell research;

WHEREAS it has been determined that all the human embryonic stem cell lines currently approved for study under federal funding in the United States, grown on or derived from mouse cells are now contaminated and no longer viable; and

WHEREAS the United States government does not currently permit the funding of new and necessary stem cell lines.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly publicly advocate for the use of human embryonic germ and stem cells for research in all appropriate ways and urge the United States government to again permit and properly fund, stem cell research.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly embark on an informational effort to educate our lay leaders and membership regarding the importance of this initiative, which can lead to healing and the mitzvah of pikuah nefesh.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2005