Dr. Deena Zimmerman is an equally appropriate author for “Midor l’Dor – Genetics and Genetic Diseases: Jewish Legal and Ethical Perspectives.” The Hebrew words mean “from generation to generation.”
She earned her BA at Yale and MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In the program of advanced Torah study for Women at Nishmat in Jerusalem, she earned the title yo’etzet halacha, female halachic advisor who answers women’s questions about the mitzvah of family purity. She wrote A Lifetime Companion to the Laws of Jewish Family Life (2005), a clear halachic and scientific presentation of the mitzvah. In Israel she works at TEREM Emergency Medical Services. She and her husband are the parents of three boys and two girls.
Dr. Zimmerman begins with an organized, cogent, short course in genetics so that a layperson can understand what the field is about. It’s helpful to study this opening section; when she notes in a later chapter that a disease is “inherited in an autosomal recessive manner,” you will understand. The mother and the father each carried a recessive gene for the illness and were unaware that there was a 25 percent chance that their baby would have the disease. It is understandable that they are shocked.
When you learn that many genetic problems are the result of carriers marrying each other, and see in which areas of Jewish settlement – Lithuania or Morocco, for example – there is a greater likelihood of being a carrier of a problematic gene (say 1:10 instead of 1:500), you have a good argument for marrying a spouse with an ancestry different from your own.
The section on “Genetic Diseases with a Jewish Association” is sobering. There are Continue reading “A Review of Midor l’Dor – Genetics and Genetic Diseases: Jewish Legal and Ethical Perpectives“