Brave New Judaism: When Science and Scripture Collide

Brave New Judaism: When Science and Scripture Collide

by Miryam Wahrman
     
 

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Clones, genetically modified foods, frozen embryos, stem cells, gene therapy: these are some of the new discoveries and scientific developments that are guaranteed to change our lives and our society forever. How does Judaism, an ancient religion, come to terms with such dramatic changes? This insightful book explores Jewish reactions to cutting-edge biological

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Overview

Clones, genetically modified foods, frozen embryos, stem cells, gene therapy: these are some of the new discoveries and scientific developments that are guaranteed to change our lives and our society forever. How does Judaism, an ancient religion, come to terms with such dramatic changes? This insightful book explores Jewish reactions to cutting-edge biological issues that continue to dominate the headlines.

Does Jewish law permit production and use of stem cells, gene therapy, and human cloning? Is it permissib le to produce and eat bioengineered foods? How do assisted reproductive technologies affect the definition of parenthood and who is a Jew? Are there "Jewish genes" that define Jews as a unique group? Do Jewish disease genes stigmatize the Jewish people?

Miryam Z. Wahrman addresses these and other questions by examining how Judaism interprets and responds to recent advances in biomedical science. Presenting bioethical principles derived from traditional Judaic sources, she shows how contemporary rabbis and Judaica scholars have interpreted these texts in light of radical new biotechnologies such as infertility treatments, genetic testing, sex selection, and bioengineered food. Taking into account Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform perspectives, she shows that different denominations can react to novel technologies in unpredictable ways. For example, there are numerous instances where Orthodox sources are more accepting of technology than the other branches of Judaism.

Brave New Judaism offers a broad Jewish perspective on compelling issues, showing how Judaism has coped with current scientific inventions and technologies, and how Jewish law has creatively kept pace with the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
In this courageous and compelling study, Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey, draws on her expertise in both biotechnology and Jewish law to apply the ancient precepts of Judaism to thoroughly modern medical situations. Here she addresses the ethics of cloning, stem cell research, genetic testing and other contemporary issues. Many of the questions, she notes, arose from e-mail queries she has received in her role as a Judaism columnist for America Online. Particularly fascinating are questions of how biological advances reflect on traditional Jewish practices. Can bio-engineered food be regarded as kosher? If a Jewish mother conceived a child using donated eggs of uncertain origin, is the child still considered Jewish? Is it halakhically permissible to use genetic testing to demonstrate who belongs to the ancient priestly lineage? The book's strengths are its balanced perspective (Wahrman actively seeks out the views of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews) and the author's own powerful voice. In the preface, she describes her ambiguous feelings while watching her mother be kept alive for months on end in the intensive care unit, and also relates her personal struggles with infertility in the 1980s. These two drives-to stay alive and to reproduce-are at the heart of bioethics, Wahrman says, and they are endlessly complicated. This book is passionate, engaging and sometimes surprising. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
A professor and columnist on science and Judaism for America Online, Wahrman (biology, William Patterson Univ.) explores the many ethical and theological challenges posed to Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews by recent advances in the "brave new world" of biotechnology and biomedical science: reproductive issues (e.g., donor eggs, artificial insemination), the production and use of human stem cells and the status of the early embryo in Jewish tradition, human cloning, screening for genetic disorders, genetic engineering, the human genome project and its impact on determining Jewish genetic identity, and genetically modified foods. Although she does not claim to provide definitive halakhic rulings or conclusions, she does compile a very good survey and discussion of the issues and some of the biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic thinking that speaks to them. A thought-provoking volume on a topic of great popular interest; recommended for public and synagogue library collections.-Marcia Welsh, formerly with the Guilford Free Lib., CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584650317
Publisher:
Brandeis University Press
Publication date:
09/01/2002
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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