At our annual, national rabbinic conference, last March, one of the most fascinating speakers was Anne Wojcicki — biotech analyst, biologist, and co-founder of 23andMe. 23andMe is a personal genome service that offers a comprehensive genetic scan. This scan is done on a saliva sample given by the individual. Both health and ancestry information is provided. Full information on this service can be found at www.23andme.com.
Normally this scan costs $99/per person. At the end of our conference, however, Wojcicki made an incredible offer. Every rabbi in attendance was given 100 free scans to distribute among their congregation. It’s taken until now to get full information on how to redeem this offer.
But before I provide that information, some serious words of warning. If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity, you may learn information about yourself that you do not anticipate. And your genetic information may have implications for your relatives, who have not asked to know. Further, genetic research is ongoing; so, reports based on your DNA can change over time. Most troublesome of all, there is always the possibility that genetic information you share with others could be used to counter your interests. You can read more fully about such concerns at the 23andme website. Additionally, particularly after the recent publicity on Angelina Jolie’s medical decisions, the web is full of thoughtful pieces on genetic testing. Do your research and consider carefully, before your proceed. And, as always, consultation with your personal physician is an excellent idea.
But then … If you would like to take advantage of this offer, contact me either by my email or at the synagogue phone number. I can tell you how to access our free scans. I will first take requests from Sinai members. If, by June 24, there are any remaining free scans, I’ll be happy to make them available to Sinai’s non-member friends, during my last week as your rabbi.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have about this.
And, no matter how you feel about genetic testing – as my grandmother always used to say: Zei Gezunt. Be healthy. Biz hundert zwanzig. Like Moses, to 120 –- healthy and energetic!!
~Rabbi Myra Soifer