CJG Blog

Center for Jewish Genetics blog

A Jewish New Year to Remember

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by Carol Guzman

In past years, one of the Sarnoff Center’s favorite high holiday traditions has been to reach out to Chicagoland synagogues to offer congregants bags containing sweets and information about our organization. Although the Jewish high holidays look a little different in 2020/5781 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still here to help you commit to a sweet and healthy new year!

With the current limits on indoor gatherings, many community members won’t be celebrating the high holidays inside their places of worship or with extended family. While we may not be able to celebrate in-person together, we hope you continue to prioritize your health and your family’s health this holiday season. Whether it be hosting a virtual Yom Kippur break-fast or a Rosh Hashana Zoom dinner, consider talking to your family about your family health history. Even though we cannot gather in person, you can still take actionable steps to proactive about our health while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. 

If you are considering family planning, our convenient online carrier screening program allows individuals to complete the screening process entirely from home. Register for the program on our  website, complete a 15-minute education course, and get the genetic testing kit delivered to your home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily lowered the carrier screening program fee to $49 per person.

Consider learning more about the BRCA gene at our virtual “ What’s Jewish About Hereditary Cancer?” panel program on Oct. 21. Our program was initially scheduled in March before the pandemic forced a change in plans. We are excited to feature a panel of experts, including a genetic counselor, social worker, and gynecologist, to explore the hereditary cancer risks facing the Jewish community – and how COVID-19 impacts care.

Since March, the community has had an additional way to access our genetic counselor, Melissa Ramos, who, along with our Program Manager of Health Education Rebecca Bakal, hosts monthly Facebook Live Q&A sessions. Past topics include “Genetic Health During a Pandemic” and “Genetic Information Privacy Issues.” They are willing to answer our audience’s questions, regardless of the subject of the session. If you would like to reach out to Melissa privately, email her at  melissaramos@juf.org

While the pandemic has significantly changed our daily lives, the Sarnoff Center continues to offer resources to help you with your health-related Jewish new year’s resolutions. Here’s to next year, not on Zoom but in person.

The Sarnoff Center wishes you a sweet new year and an easy fast to those who observe. 


Affordable, Accessible Genetic Screening in Illinois

Our affordable, accessible carrier screening program uses advanced technology to provide comprehensive screening for Jewish and interfaith couples. Visit our Get Screened page to learn more and register.


Do You Know What's In Your Genes?

What is the most valuable gift you can give to your family? The gift of good health! There are many health conditions that run in families. Knowing your family health history can alert you to the potential risk for a variety of genetic disorders . Talk to your relatives for warning signs and assess your risk for hereditary cancers.

Did you know: Ashkenazi Jews are 10 TIMES more likely to have BRCA mutations, which significantly increases lifetime risks for hereditary cancers, so what does this heightened risk mean for you? Click here to learn more .