A few hours after Staff Sgt. Kevin Cohen was shot dead by a Palestinian Sniper in 2002, his mother requested to preserve his semen. Twelve years later, Cohen’s daughter was born to a surrogate mother. The first to suggest a special sperm bank for soldiers came from Irit Rosenblum, founder of the “New Family” NGO. In 2001, at the height of the terror wave that hit Israel, Rosenblum raised the idea to use the “wondrous technological solution” of a sperm bank to ensure that Israeli soldiers would be able to fulfill “the right to procreate.” Freezing soldiers’ semen would allow even a dead soldier to “express his aspirations and choose the ways to fulfill them,” writes Rosenblum.
As could be expected, “New Family” promotes anything but what would be considered a traditional Jewish family. New Family is committed to the causes of “LGBT, interfaith and bi-national families, single parents, common-law couples, Reform, Conservative and other non-Orthodox Jews, converts, immigrants, minorities, religiously taboo unions, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, people who don’t meet the religious definition of any faith, or meet the definition of two faiths, and their children. New Family serves families across religious, national, political and geographic boundaries.”
Aware of the motivation behind this idea, yet having to deal with this new possibility from a religious point of view, M.D. Rabbi Mordechai Halperin began a halachic query and reached a conclusion that “such a practice has no place in Israel.” Nevertheless, reluctantly he reached the surprising conclusion that, “the one born by insemination after death to a lawful wife is considered a son in every way.”
The dughter of deceased Staff Sgt. Cohen was the first case ever in Israel, where after six years of fighting bureaucracy, and the legal system, which not only approved the concept of “A biological will™” but also reprimanded the Israeli government for its unwillingness to legislate the idea of “A biological will™”. The same story repeated itself in 2013 and in 2016, when Israeli courts ruled again that a surrogate mother can be inseminated with semen of a deceased soldier.
These legal decisions have yet to be challenged in the Supreme Court, which is why another family of a deceased soldier is pushing for legislation. In the case of Capt. Shaked Meiri who was killed in 2004 during a military exercise, after his widow refused to have a child from her long dead husband, his parents are now campaigning for a new “continuity law” that will put an end to the legal difficulties facing families that want to have a grandchild from their deceased son.
Despite the haunting moral questions like, choosing a child to be an orphan or, creating a child as a “living memorial,” and many other liberal ideas, this one too is likely to be accepted, first by the Israeli public that will be coached by the media to accept it, and then by the Knesset. If that would happen, the vision of “New Family” will take another step on the road that, many believe, would lead to the destruction of the Jewish family.