Cover image for Brave new Judaism : when science and scripture collide
Brave new Judaism : when science and scripture collide
Wahrman, Miryam Z.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hanover : University Press of New England [for] Brandeis University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xix, 287 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BM538.S3 W34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Clones, genetically modified foods, frozen embryos, stem cells, genetherapy: these are some of the new discoveries and scientificdevelopments that are guaranteed to change our lives and our societyforever. How does Judaism, an ancient religion, come to terms with suchdramatic changes? This insightful book explores Jewish reactions tocutting-edge biological issues that continue to dominate the headlines.Miryam Z. Wahrman addresses these and other questions by examining howJudaism interprets and responds to recent advances in biomedicalscience. Taking into account Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformperspectives, she shows that different denominations can react to noveltechnologies in unpredictable ways. For example, there are numerousinstances where Orthodox sources are more accepting of technology thanthe other branches of Judaism.

Author Notes

Miryam Z. Wahrman is Professor of Biology at WilliamPaterson University of New Jersey, where she co-directs the Center forHolocaust and Genocide Studies. A popular writer, lecturer, and experton the subject of science and Judaism, she is science correspondent forthe New Jersey Jewish Standard and Jewish CommunityNews, and writes a column on science and Judaism for AmericaOnline.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this courageous and compelling study, Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey, draws on her expertise in both biotechnology and Jewish law to apply the ancient precepts of Judaism to thoroughly modern medical situations. Here she addresses the ethics of cloning, stem cell research, genetic testing and other contemporary issues. Many of the questions, she notes, arose from e-mail queries she has received in her role as a Judaism columnist for America Online. Particularly fascinating are questions of how biological advances reflect on traditional Jewish practices. Can bio-engineered food be regarded as kosher? If a Jewish mother conceived a child using donated eggs of uncertain origin, is the child still considered Jewish? Is it halakhically permissible to use genetic testing to demonstrate who belongs to the ancient priestly lineage? The book's strengths are its balanced perspective (Wahrman actively seeks out the views of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews) and the author's own powerful voice. In the preface, she describes her ambiguous feelings while watching her mother be kept alive for months on end in the intensive care unit, and also relates her personal struggles with infertility in the 1980s. These two drives-to stay alive and to reproduce-are at the heart of bioethics, Wahrman says, and they are endlessly complicated. This book is passionate, engaging and sometimes surprising. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A professor and columnist on science and Judaism for America Online, Wahrman (biology, William Patterson Univ.) explores the many ethical and theological challenges posed to Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews by recent advances in the "brave new world" of biotechnology and biomedical science: reproductive issues (e.g., donor eggs, artificial insemination), the production and use of human stem cells and the status of the early embryo in Jewish tradition, human cloning, screening for genetic disorders, genetic engineering, the human genome project and its impact on determining Jewish genetic identity, and genetically modified foods. Although she does not claim to provide definitive halakhic rulings or conclusions, she does compile a very good survey and discussion of the issues and some of the biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic thinking that speaks to them. A thought-provoking volume on a topic of great popular interest; recommended for public and synagogue library collections.-Marcia Welsh, formerly with the Guilford Free Lib., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.