What Is a Jew? The Meaning of Genetic Disease for Jewish Identity

By Rebecca T. Alpert

Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), Spring 2007

The author presents several definitions of what it means to be a Jew: the standard halakhic definition of Jewish identity, the interpretation of the doctrine of election and what it has meant for Jews to be identified as "the Chosen People," and the traditional Jewish model of defining identity based primarily on the covenant with Abraham. The author suggests that as science becomes more comfortable with the idea that nature and nurture interact to make us who we are, so we Jews are beginning to accommodate ourselves to understanding the ways in which our genetic and social identities interact to define who we are. The author then argues that one of the most crucial aspects of identity is how we see ourselves in relation to new findings in the field of genetics and the Human Genome Project.

Topic: Continuity, Jewish Identification, Modernity, Jewish Continuity, Identity Formation

Name of Publication: The Reconstructionist

Editor: Hirsh, Richard

Volume/Issue: Vol.71/No.2

Page Number(s): 69-83

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Genre: Article

Coverage: World

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Alpert, Rebecca T. What Is a Jew? The Meaning of Genetic Disease for Jewish Identity. The Reconstructionist. Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA). Spring 2007: 69-83. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=4181


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