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April 21, 1989 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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of death, and that just won't
get out of the way."
One man who has not
adapted himself to the idea of
death is John Erfurt, a social
scientist at the University of
Michigan.
Erfurt is one of several
Jewish members of the Im-
mortalist Society (IS), a non-
profit, tax-exempt organiza-
tion that disseminates infor-
mation and supports research
in cryonics-related fields.
Located in Oak Park, the IS
has 91 members and is the
oldest cryonics organization
in the world.
Other Jewish "Immor-
talists," as IS members are
called, include Dr. Avi-Ben
Abraham, president of the
San • Francisco-based
American Cryonics Society
and Paul Segall, president of
Cryomedical Sciences, Inc.
Ettinger describes the
typical IS member as male,
often working in the science
or medical field, highly
educated and slightly
wealthier than the average

'The problem is
that we've adapted
ourselves to the
idea of death, and
that just won't get
out of the way.

person. He also says IS
members tend to be less
religious, though he noted a
Catholic priest once Con-
secrated a cryostat before a
body was placed in
suspension.
Linked closely to the IS is
the Cryonics Institute (CI),
also based in Oak Park.
Founded in 1975, the CI ar-
ranges for cryonic suspension.
Ettinger is CI president.
The CI charges $1,250 for a
one-time membership. A con-
tract for cryonic suspension is
$28,000. About $8,000 of that
is used to prepare the body
and build the cryostat. The
rest is placed into an account,
the interest from which pays
for upkeep of the body. Et-
tinger says the cost is kept
low because the CI builds its
own cryostats and because
Immortalist Society volun-
teers provide all cryonic
suspension services.
Two bodies now are being
held in cryonic suspension in
a building in the Detroit area;
another 18 are elsewhere in
the United States. The loca-
tion of the Detroit facility is
kept private from journalists,
though individuals seriously
considering cryonic suspen-
sion are permitted to see it.
The Cryonics Institute also
owns five acres of vacant land
in northern lower Michigan

that may become the site of a
new, larger building for
preparing and storing bodies
in cryonic suspension, Et-
tinger says.

ttinger describes
physicians of the
future as endowed
with almost God-
- like capabilities:
They will be able to cure all
illnesses, repair any damage
done in the freezing process
and reverse the effects of old
age.
"We must," he says, "look
forward to a time when all
these deficits can be cor-
rected!'
Jewish religious authorities
take issue with Ettinger's
views. Rabbi Binyamin
Wallfish, executive vice presi-
dent of the Orthodox Rab-
binical Council of America,
says cryonics are contrary to
Jewish law.
"Jewish law demands that
we bury the body immediate-
ly after death," he says. "And
freezing is not burying"
Rabbi Wallfish says that
Jewish law would approve
cryonics only if medical
evidence offered absolute pro-
of that the bodies could one
day be brought back to life.
Yet Ettinger says Immor-
talists rarely wrestle with
issues of how cryonic suspen-
sion may conflict with their
religious beliefs. He says IS
members come from every
background, and that a
number are religious.
"But even people who ex-
pect to go to heaven still want
to go on living" he says.
"The use of medical
technology to prolong life to-
day is common," he says, "and
that's all we're doing."
If Ettinger's theory of
cryonics proves true, he will
be among those postponing
their entry to heaven. He and
his family plan to be placed in
cryonic suspension when they
die.
Meanwhile, Ettinger pre-
sides over a court of Immor-
talists and frozen bodies
waiting for the day they will
join the future.
They're quiet subjects. All
they ask is a full diet of liquid
nitrogen to keep them cold.
And they're patient.
"Frozen people!" Ettinger
explains, "don't mind
waiting." El

I NEWS I

Kach Sues
L.A. Federation

Los Angeles (JTA) — Los
Angeles members of Kach In-
ternational have filed a suit
against the Jewish Federa-

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