New York City's venerable Upper West Side Congregation Rodeph Shalom was established in 1842. It is still in tune with today's Jewish world as it presents a cutting-edge Jewish genetics weekend, featuring Dr. Harry Ostrer, M.D., on Friday and Saturday, January 11-12, 2008.
If you're in the neighborhood and want to know more about Jewish genetics and DNA, this is for you.
Ostrer - an excellent speaker - is familiar to many Jewish genealogists as he has presented at recent annual international Jewish genealogy conferences. The last time we met was this past summer in Seattle as he was collecting DNA samples in that major Sephardic community.
The study weekend is titled "Who are the Jews? A Genetic Perspective."
At 6pm, Shabbat evening, January 11, Ostrer will speak on "Founders, or How I Got to be Who I am," featuring historical views of Jews as a tribe, race and people and will trace the formation of contemporary groups – Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrahi.
At 10.15am, Shabbat morning, Ostrer will present "Identity, or Who I Think I Am," focusing on the use of genetic information for disease treatment and how contemporary Jews are determining who future Jews will be. He will argue that this shared genetic legacy will be a source of Jewish identity.
Shabbat lunch and learn, at 12.30pm, will focus on Case Studies: Bioethics and Halacha (Jewish law). This session will address defining Jewish identity based on genetic make-up, and the use of contemporary genetic technologies to influence the genetic make-up of offspring.
Ostrer is Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Medicine and Director of the Human Genetics Program in the Department of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. He studies the genetics of Jewish populations and is currently completing a book on Jewish history and genetics.
The program is sponsored by the congregation's adult education department; neither fee nor reservation is required. For more details, click here. Rodeph Sholom is located at 7 West 83rd St., Manhattan.