Dor Yeshorim is an international, confidential genetic screening system used mainly by Orthodox Jews, which attempts to prevent the transmission of genetic disorders that have an increased frequency among members of the Ashkenazi Jewish community. The system was established to follow Jewish law, under which abortion is not allowed, while acknowledging that testing might prevent the birth of an affected child. Designed in the early 1980s by an Orthodox rabbi, the system tests young adults before they begin to contemplate marriage. Participants can then use the system to learn their genetic compatibility with potential marital partners.
For interested participants, a simple blood test is all that is necessary to be tested for ten disorders: Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, Canavan disease, familial dysautonomia, Fanconi anemia type C, Bloom’s syndrome, Gaucher disease type I, mucolipidosis type IV, glycogen storage disorder type I, and Niemann-Pick disease. Participants are given an identification number but not their actual results. Anonymity is required to avoid unjustified stigmas or embarrassment to the individual or other family members. Participants are responsible for keeping track of their identification number. In the event that the identification number is lost, the results are irretrievable, and the participant would be required to pay for a second blood test.
When partners are introduced or are contemplating engagement, they submit their numbers and birthdates to Dor Yeshorim by telephone. Upon comparison, the match is considered to be compatible as long as both parties are not carriers of the same recessive trait. Each member of the couple may be a carrier for a different disorder, but that information is not revealed as it does not affect their compatibility as a couple. If the couple is not compatible, Dor Yeshorim provides genetic counseling over the phone and referrals for additional genetic counseling in the participants’ area as needed.
If individuals have used this system in the past, Dor Yeshorim can update testing for any of the diseases for which screening is now available, such as familial dysautonomia. If individuals have received testing anywhere other than Dor Yeshorim, or are already engaged or married, they will not be able to use the Dor Yeshorim system.
The program costs about $200, and results typically take between two to three weeks.
For more information about Dor Yeshorim, call their New York office at (718) 384-6060.
The Chicago-area testing location for Dor Yeshorim is the Touhy Health Center. Write or call for more information.
Touhy Health Center
2901 W. Touhy Ave.
Chicago, IL 60645
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Learn about the origins of Dor Yeshorim and Rabbi Yosef Ekstein's personal journey to ensure that no family should suffer as his has. (From Mishpacha; full article requires subscription)