NEW YORK (JTA) — A campaign is being launched to help New York rabbis encourage couples to perform screenings for Jewish genetic diseases before pregnancy.
The Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium and the New York Board of Rabbis are launching the Couples Aware campaign Thursday at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York.
The program, which will run through late February, includes training sessions for rabbis at local hospitals. The rabbis will review the basics of genetics with counselors and learn ways to incorporate genetic screening into their premarital counseling sessions.
About one in five Ashkenazi Jews are carriers of at least one of 16 Jewish genetic diseases. Having two carriers of the same disease increases the chances of giving birth to a child affected by it.
“In the rare case that both members of the couple are carriers of the same disease, they can work with a genetic counselor to determine the best way to build a healthy family," said Randy Glaser, co-chair of the Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium.