The Torah recognizes the need for each of us to take responsibility for our health in order to be able to keep the commandments and fulfill our purpose in the world. Genetic Shabbat – which takes place with Parshiyot Tazria and Metzorah on April 28 – May 4 – teaches us how to be proactive about our health and the health of others.

This year, our message focuses on giving back by participating in medical research. We are a generous community and we give of ourselves in many important ways: through tzedakah, through volunteer work, and through random acts of kindness, just to name a few. We frequently devote our time, energy and resources to caring for others and helping those in need. So why call attention to another way of giving?

Medical research has the power to transform the lives of individuals, families and even entire communities. Through research, we have identified Jewish risks for genetic disorders and, in the case of Tay-Sachs, virtually eliminated new cases. Thanks to the selfless contributions of many men and women, a team in Israel developed an innovative treatment for Gaucher disease, a rare but potentially debilitating condition that is 100 times more common in Jews than in the general population.

Researchers supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation are now exploring a genetic connection between Gaucher disease and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases have been linked to the same genetic mutation, one that’s found more frequently in Ashkenazi Jews. The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics is helping to spread the word about this important research – and other worthy studies – and we are asking for your help in the following ways:

Every Shabbat, we should remind ourselves to be thankful for the blessing of good health. On Genetic Shabbat, please consider how you can contribute to advancing the health of future generations.

Have questions or want additional information? Contact Sarah Goldberg at (312) 357-4994 or