Jews and Genes


Jews and Genes

The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought

Edited by Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth
Foreword by Mark S. Frankel

480 pages


March 2015


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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March 2015


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2015


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About the Book

Well aware of Jews having once been the victims of Nazi eugenics policies, many Jews today have an ambivalent attitude toward new genetics and are understandably wary of genetic forms of identity and intervention. At the same time, the Jewish tradition is strongly committed to medical research designed to prevent or cure diseases. Jews and Genes explores this tension against the backdrop of various important developments in genetics and bioethics—new advances in stem cell research; genetic mapping, identity, testing, and intervention; and the role of religion and ethics in shaping public policy.
Jews and Genes brings together leaders in their fields, from all walks of Judaism, to explore these most timely and intriguing topics—the intricacies of the genetic code and the wonders of life, along with cutting-edge science and the ethical issues it raises.

Author Bio

Elliot N. Dorff is rector and Sol and Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and past chair of the Society of Jewish Ethics. He is the author or editor of numerous award-winning books, including Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics (JPS, 1998).
Laurie Zoloth is a professor of religious studies and on the Jewish studies faculty at Weinberg College and is a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, both at Northwestern University. She is the author or editor of six books, including The Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice. Mark S. Frankel is director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights, and Law Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


"As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought is very highly recommended for community and academic library Judaic Studies, Genetics, and Bioethics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists."—Willis M. Buhle, Midwest Book Review

“Dorff and Zoloth have assembled contributions that shed light on Jews, biology, and genes that are engagingly revelatory for Jew and non-Jew alike.”—Arthur L. Caplan, Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics and director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center

“A brilliant combination of science and philosophy that deepens one’s awe for the genetics of life and demonstrates how insights from Jewish thought can help address the vexing questions that arise because of scientists’ new capabilities to test for genes and alter them in the effort to prevent or cure disease.”—Neil S. Wenger, director of the UCLA Health Ethics Center

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mark S. Frankel    
Introduction by Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth    
Part 1. Stem Cell Research
1. Summary of the Science of Stem Cell Research    
Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth
2. Applying Jewish Law to Stem Cell Research    
Elliot N. Dorff
3. Divine Representations and the Value of Embryos: God’s Image, God’s Name, and the Status of Human Nonpersons    
Noam J. Zohar
4. “Like Water”: Using Genesis to Formulate an Alternative Jewish Position on the Beginning of Life    
Yosef Leibowitz
5. Reasonable Magic: Stem Cell Research and Forbidden Knowledge    
Laurie Zoloth
Part 2. Genetic Mapping and Identity
6. Summary of the Science of Genetic Mapping and Identity    
Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth
7. Folk Taxonomy, Prejudice, and the Human Genome    
Judith S. Neulander
8. What Is a Jew? The Meaning of Genetic Disease for Jewish Identity    
Rebecca Alpert
9. Yearning for the Long-Lost Home: The Lemba and the Jewish Narrative of Genetic Return    
Laurie Zoloth
Part 3. Genetic Testing
10. Summary of the Science of Genetic Testing    
Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth
11. Genetic Testing in the Jewish Community    
Paul Root Wolpe
12. Jewish Genetic Decision Making and an Ethic of Care    
Toby L. Schonfeld
Part 4. Genetic Intervention
13. Summary of the Science of Genetic Intervention    
Elliot N. Dorff and Laurie Zoloth
14. Some Jewish Thoughts on Genetic Enhancement    
Shimon Glick
15. Curing Disease and Enhancing Traits: A Philosophical (and Jewish) Perspective    
Ronald M. Green
16. Genetic Enhancement and the Image of God    
Aaron L. Mackler
17. “Blessed Is the One Who Is Good and Who Brings Forth Goodness”: A Jewish Theological Response to the Ethical Challenges of New Genetic Technologies    
Louis E. Newman
18. Jewish Reflections on Genetic Enhancement    
Jeffrey H. Burack
19. Mending the Code    
Robert Gibbs
Part 5. The New Genetics and Public Policy
20. Religious Traditions in a Postreligious World: Does Halakhah Have Insights for Nonbelievers?    
John Lantos
21. How the Unconscious Shapes Modern Genomic Science    
Robert Pollack
22. To Fix the World: Jewish Convictions Affecting Social Issues    
Elliot N. Dorff
Index to Classical Sources    
General Index    


Finalist for the 2015 National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice from the Jewish Book Council

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