Sample Bulletin Article for Genetic Shabbat
family has its stories, and Jewish families tend to be very good at sharing
them. How we got from there to here. How branches of the family came together –
or were torn apart. How we learned from those who came before us.
week on Shabbat, rabbis have the opportunity to tell stories about our
collective history and share lessons for the future as we relate the Torah
portion to modern life. Some weeks, of course, are a little more difficult than
others. Parshiyot Tazria and Metzorah, for instance, are about leprosy and
disease. Not the most comfortable topics to discuss.
it is the sometimes-uncomfortable stories of illness and disease that can
provide some of the most valuable information for our own health and the health
of families. Diseases may run in families for different reasons, yet often
arise due to our shared genetic heritage not just as family members, but as
persons from a particular ethnicity or whose ancestors came from specific parts
of the world.
health history has particular importance for persons of Jewish descent. Several
recessive genetic disorders – including Tay-Sachs disease, Gaucher disease, and
Cystic Fibrosis – are much more common among Jews. But because these diseases
only occur when two carriers have a child together, they rarely turn up in
family health history.
contrast, other diseases with a genetic component often show up in family
health history. Of particular concern to Jewish families are cancers related to
mutations in the BRCA genes, which can greatly increase the risk for several
cancers in both women and men. Sharing family health history can help current
generations identify shared risks and help individual family members get the
education and preventative care they need.
families gather on Shabbat and other occasions, they have an opportunity to
share and ask questions of one another to piece together health history. Make
this Shabbat a Genetic Shabbat. Discuss your health information and ask
questions of other family members. Share this information with each other and,
ultimately, with your healthcare provider, who can help you interpret it and
provide guidance to protect your family.
family health history tools and to learn more about Jewish genetic health,
visit JewishGenetics.org or contact the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for
Jewish Genetics at (312) 357-4718 or email@example.com.