Israel is breaking medical frontiers with its fertility research, and test tube babies or artificial insemination can be provided through the country's vaunted health system, paid for by the state. But inevitably, there are occasional glitches in a small country obsessed with demographics. One new single mother in Jerusalem, who asked that her name not be mentioned, points out that there is a lack of Jewish sperm available inside Israeli sperm banks. (Although young IDF soldiers began a trend to freeze sperm before going into battle so their family lines could continue!) She speculates that high demand for gentile sperm may be to prevent future incidents of incest in the case that a sperm donor made multiple deposits to the sperm bank and impregnated more than one woman.
Still, ynet news
cites Rabbi Dov Lior, who cautions against using these techniques and urges sterile Jewish couples to adopt.
Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, asserted recently that a Jewish woman should never get pregnant using sperm donated by a non-Jewish man – even if it is the last option available.
According to Lior, a baby born through such an insemination will have the "negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews." Instead, he advised sterile couples to adopt.
Lior addressed the issue during a women's health conference held recently at the Puah Institute, a fertility clinic. His conservative stance negated a ruling widely accepted by rabbis, which states that sperm donated by a non-Jew is preferable to that of an anonymous Jew, who might pose a genealogical risk.
"Sefer HaChinuch (a book of Jewish law) states that the character traits of the father pass on to the son," he said in the lecture. "If the father in not Jewish, what character traits could he have? Traits of cruelty, of barbarism! These are not traits that characterize the people of Israel."
Lior added identified Jews as merciful, shy and charitable – qualities that he claimed could be inherited. "A person born to Jewish parents, even if they weren't raised on the Torah – there are things that are passed on (to him) in the blood, it's genetic," he explained. "If the father is a gentile, then the child is deprived of these things.
"I even read in books that sometimes the crime, the difficult traits, the bitterness – a child that comes from these traits, it's no surprise that he won't have the qualities that characterize the people of Israel," he added.
Lior condemned artificial insemination and sperm donation in general, saying that they lead to waste of sperm, unclear genealogy and other Jewish law offenses. He warned against undergoing intrauterine insemination at hospitals, where the workers may mix sperm samples for one reason or another - a major halachic violation.
On the subject of women who freeze their eggs to use at a later date, the rabbi asserted that instead they should concentrate their efforts on getting married younger.
"Our public has been influenced by a part of the Western culture in which every woman, instead of becoming a mother, needs to get a Masters Degree," he lamented. "The role of women – child rearing – is not less important than an academic degree." Lior noted that there is nothing wrong with attaining a profession, but it should not be a priority.
Moreover, the rabbi spoke against single women getting pregnant.
"We can understand the desire of every woman to have a child, but according to our Torah it is impossible to address the demand of a certain woman when it can cause someone else suffering," he said.
"If a child is born without a father, he cannot be 100% normal." He stated that rabbinical literature defines these kids as "criminals and subjects of other negative phenomena."