Genetic disorders arise when one or both copies of a specific gene have undergone an alteration or mutation. When a mutation in just one of these gene copies is sufficient to cause a disease, that disorder is considered dominant. When a mutation in both gene copies is required to cause a disease, that disorder is considered recessiveThis is because the normal gene copy compensates for the defective copy. As a result, most carriers of recessive disorders are healthy individuals with no signs or symptoms of a condition.

Because of the common heritage that many Jews share, several potentially disease-causing mutations appear in Jewish populations more than in the general population. The mutation related to Tay-Sachs disease is the most well-known of these, but there are many others, including mutations for Gaucher disease, Canavan disease, and cystic fibrosis. Jews are not alone in this! Other mutations occur with higher frequency among other groups, such as the mutation related to sickle-cell disease in some persons of African and Indian descent.

In this section, you can learn some basic information about genetics, read more about Jewish genetic disorders, including those more common among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, and learn about how Jewish law and ethics relate to some genetic health issues.

Or, skip ahead to the section about carrier screening to learn about options to help you plan for a healthy family. 


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 about our program and how to register!


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 .