New Jersey’s faith leaders come together to support organ and tissue donation

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Observed annually in November, National Donor Sabbath is a time focused on educating faith-based communities about the critical need for organ and tissue donation, and the vital role faith plays in making the decision to register as a donor. Currently, there are 110,000 Americans — nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey — waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Organ and tissue donations from just one donor can save eight lives and benefit more than 75 people. 

“Most major religions in the United States support organ and tissue donation as an unselfish act of charity,” said Alyssa D’Addio, director of hospital and community services at NJ Sharing Network, the federally designated organ-procurement nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue in the state. “We are extremely fortunate to have strong partners in our local faith-based communities who support our lifesaving mission by discussing organ and tissue donation with their congregations and by sharing their inspirational stories and unique perspectives about donation.”

Faith leaders and devout followers of various religions from throughout the state have voiced their support for organ and tissue donation. 

“Organ and tissue donation is supported by all major streams of Judaism,” said Rabbi Ari Lucas, of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell. “Many in our synagogue community have been profoundly affected by the generosity of people who gave and they are the greatest preachers of the importance of this because they are living testaments to the value of organ and tissue donation.”

“Life is one of the greatest gifts that you can give, and it is a gift that can be shared,” said the Rev. Vanessa M. Brown, of Rivers of Living Water Ministries UCC of Newark. “It is part of us doing good in this world by saving lives.”

“One of the basic tenets of faith is giving and receiving. Whether you are a person of faith or not, love is something with which we all identify,” said Pastor Hilton Rawls Jr., of Greater Grace Church in East Orange. Rawls is also a kidney transplant recipient. “What happens within the walls of NJ Sharing Network can be recognized as love.”

Online activities and in-person events will be held throughout the month at churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other houses of worship. For more information, visit