CJG Blog

Center for Jewish Genetics blog

Three New Years

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By Jason Rothstein, MPH

Several weeks ago, Sarah, our Senior Associate for Community Engagement, asked me to put together an end-of-year post for our blog, and frankly, I’ve been putting it off. In our line of work, the calendar year doesn’t come up that often.

Like many non-profit organizations and businesses, we operate on a fiscal year that runs July-June. Of course, as Jewish organization, we also move to the rhythm of the Jewish year, anchored by the twin gravities of the high holidays in the fall and Pesach in the spring. So what, for us, makes this approaching new year meaningful?

And then, reviewing our many complicated calendars, I realized something. This is our first of three full year anniversaries we will commemorate in 2018. January 1 marks our first full calendar year since we were rededicated as the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics. On July 1 we complete our first full fiscal year since rededication, and on the evening of September 9, we will celebrate our first full Jewish year since rededication. That’s a lot of birthdays.

And this first New Year marks a pretty eventful 12-month period. We welcomed three new professional staff, all of whom have made their mark on the Sarnoff Center in ways big and small.

Sarah Goldberg arrived to take on a redefined community outreach role, increasing our visibility and collaboration in innumerable ways, forging strong relationships with partners new and old, and delivering some of the best programming the Sarnoff Center has ever done – including the triumphant return of Jean Therapy.

Rebecca Wang (of Insight Medical Genetics), our genetic counselor, strengthened ties to our medical partner, and has brought a wonderful combination of empathy and expertise for screening program participants and others who reach out to us for help.

Becca Bakal arrived mid-year to become the Sarnoff Center’s first full-time community health educator, and immediately began making connections and building collaborations to complete her ambitious first year project, a community needs assessment that will inform our work for years to come.

We also said farewell to Senior Advisor and former Director Karen Litwack, whose legacy will continue to influence the Sarnoff Center’s work long after her retirement.

2018 promises a lot of excitement of the Sarnoff Center and its staff. We have lots of great community programming planned, and in addition to the community needs assessment, we will also share some important findings about hereditary cancer in the Jewish community stemming from another collaboration started this past year with the American Cancer Society. And of course, our recently expanded carrier screening program will continue to be available to provide affordable, accessible services to members of our community.

All of us at the Sarnoff Center wish you good health and happiness in the year ahead. 


Affordable, Accessible Genetic Screening in Illinois

Our affordable, accessible carrier screening program uses advanced technology to provide comprehensive screening for Jewish and interfaith couples. Visit our Get Screened page to learn more and register.


Planning for a Family?

1 in 4 Jews carries a potentially devastating genetic disorder that could pass down to a child. Make carrier screening part of your family planning process. 


Do You Know What's In Your Genes?

What is the most valuable gift you can give to your family? The gift of good health! There are many health conditions that run in families. Knowing your family health history can alert you to the potential risk for a variety of genetic disorders . Talk to your relatives for warning signs and assess your risk for hereditary cancers.

Did you know: Ashkenazi Jews are 10 TIMES more likely to have BRCA mutations, which significantly increases lifetime risks for hereditary cancers, so what does this heightened risk mean for you? Click here to learn more .