For Rabbis and Cantors
As a member of the Jewish clergy, you can play an important role in promoting timely and accurate carrier screening for Jewish and interfaith couples. The JGDC strongly encourages discussing the importance of preconception carrier screening during premarital counseling sessions. This information should also be shared with other members of your congregation.
Educating Couples about Jewish Genetic Diseases
You as rabbis do not need to become genetic counselors, but should have a basic understanding of Jewish genetic diseases, how they are passed from parent to child, what the screening process involves and options available to carrier couples. Please visit the Jewish Genetic Diseases and Genetics and Carrier Screening sections of this website for more details.
Points to cover in the course of premarital counseling of both Jewish and interfaith couples:
Couples with any Jewish ancestry, including interfaith couples, should have preconception carrier screening for Jewish genetic diseases.
The best time to be screened is before pregnancy. There are multiple options for a carrier couple to have a healthy family.
Screening is available: In a physician’s office (usually an OB/GYN), medical genetics program, or online genetics education, counseling and screening program.
Screening is based on family heritage. Jewish genetic heritage does not depend on religious practice or observance.
Nearly 1 in 2 Ashkenazi Jews (German, Eastern European or French) is a carrier for at least one Jewish genetic disease.
Individuals may opt to do expanded carrier screening to include disorders not necessarily more common in Jewish ancestry (Pan Ethnic Panels).
Carrier screening for all Jewish genetic diseases by DNA analysis can be done using blood or saliva. For Tay-Sachs disease screening, enzyme analysis using blood (in addition to DNA) is required.
Direct couples to the JGDC website for the latest carrier screening resources, genetic counseling resources, and disease descriptions.
Printed and other Materials
All JGDC materials can be ordered by emailing us at info@JewishGeneticDisesaes.org or calling us at 855-642-6900. Please specify quantity and mailing address.
Couples Aware Rabbi Education Program
This program trains and empowers rabbis and cantors to discuss genetic disease carrier screening during pre-marital counseling sessions. During the training, rabbis meet parents of children with genetic diseases, learn from a genetic counselor about the science behind the screening and discuss the critical role rabbis can play in premarital counseling about Jewish genetic disease screening.
If you are interested in this program, please contact the JGDC by emailing us at info@JewishGeneticDiseases.org or calling us at 855-642-6900.
Materials for Your Website, Newsletter or E-mails
If you have a resource section on your website, we ask that you consider adding a link to this site, to enable your congregants to find us easily.
If you would like to cover the issue of Jewish genetic disease screening at greater length on your website, in a newsletter or e-mail, we’d be glad to assist you with information, facts and figures and introductions to experts.