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. The JGDC will provide you with free brochures to distribute. Please contact us for brochures and training material.
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. In addition, our brochures and other resource materials contain this information.
Research with Jewish couples has indicated that the critical time for couples to learn about Jewish genetic disease and carrier screening is during their premarital counseling sessions. Research has also indicated that a recommendation from their rabbi or cantor, during premarital counseling sessions, is the key factor in a couple-seeking carrier screening.
Here are some questions you can use to start a conversation about carrier screening, and some points you should make sure to cover.
Questions to Ask
Are you thinking of having children?
Anyone with Jewish heritage or an interfaith couple who is thinking of starting or adding to a family, should have carrier screening.
Have you been screened for Jewish genetic diseases? If so do you have a copy of your results.
Screening can be done through your doctor’s office (usually OB/GYN), a hospital based medical genetics program or an online genetics education, counseling or screening program.If you haven’t been screened, do you know where you would go?
You can go to your own doctor or the genetics program at a local hospital. The easiest place to start is usually at the women’s OB/GYN.
Do either of you know if you are a carrier for any of the Jewish genetic diseases, or have a family history of these diseases?
Where did your family come from?
There are different screening recommendations for Ashkenazi, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. The JGDC brochure can help you understand what’s appropriate for you.
Do you understand why it’s important to be screened before you start a family?
If you’re both found to be carriers, there is a wide range of options available to build a healthy family.
Points to Cover
All couples of childbearing age with any Jewish heritage should be screened for the Jewish genetic diseases.
Interfaith couples should also be screened. The Jewish partner screened first.
Screening before pregnancy is optimal
There are options for carrier couples to build a healthy family
Delete what we have and replace with – All JGDC materials (Brochure, Rabbi Learning Guide, Counseling Check list and DVD) can be ordered free of charge by emailing us at info@JewishGeneticDiseases.org or calling us at 855-632-6900. Please specify quantity and mailing address.
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 855-632-6900.
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.