A new beginning — and a new name — for Chicago’s Center for Jewish Genetics

Sarnoff Center image
Elaine and Norton Sarnoff with JUF Board Member Andrea Yablon (left) and JUF President Steven B. Nasatir (right). (Photo by Robert F. Kusel)

Just days after members of Chicago's Jewish community celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar, the Center for Jewish Genetics marked a new beginning -- and a new name: The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics.

A generous endowment gift to JUF's Centennial Campaign from Norton and Elaine Sarnoff will provide the Center the resources to further its dedication to educating and empowering the Chicago Jewish community on all matters related to Jewish genetics and hereditary cancers. This includes its own subsidized genetic counseling and screening program, helping Jewish families plan for a healthy future. 

"This gift is so important to the Center," Rabbi Aaron Melman, a member of the Center's board of directors said at a dedication ceremony Oct. 6. "It provides a stable and sustainable source of funding for our work, and also presents opportunities for us to expand through increased staffing, stronger marketing and more community education."

Norton and Elaine Sarnoff, who have a long history of contributing to Chicago's Jewish community and JUF's Annual Campaign, took a special interest in the Center.

"For Norton and Elaine, it has always been about family," said JUF President Steven B. Nasatir. "We all worry about our children. And because of programs like this one, and because of Norton and Elaine's generosity, our children and grandchildren will have one less thing to worry about as they start their own families."

Genetic testing and screening programs have nearly eliminated Tay-Sachs disease in the Jewish community. But at least 18 other serious disorders are linked to Ashkenazi Jews. Sephardic Jews may also be at risk for disorders common to their country of origin.

"I believe this program is at the forefront of medicine," Norton Sarnoff said, "one that is filled with hope and new beginning."

The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics is a supporting foundation of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, and is supported in part by the Michael Reese Health Trust.

For more information on the Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics, visit www.JUF.org/CJG.

Stefanie Bregman is the Assistant Vice President of marketing communications at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and the co-founding Editor of Oy!Chicago. She is the editor of ... Read More

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