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July 30, 1993 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-07-30

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Rabbi Favors
Genetic Engineering

London (JTA) — Britain's
former chief rabbi has caus-
ed a stir here by saying he
would favor genetic engi-
neering as a way of
eradicating homosexuality.
Lord Jakobovits's views
come amid a heated debate
among rabbis on the
implications of new scien-
tific evidence pointing to a
"homosexual gene" or, at
any rate, to specific genetic
regions that may play a role
in determining sexual orien-
While stressing that his
statements were "tentative"
and "did not have the status
of a ruling," Rabbi
Jakobovits told the London
Jewish Chronicle: "If we
could, by some form of
genetic engineering, elim-
inate those trends, we
should," adding "so long as
it is done for a therapeutic
But the former chief rabbi
ruled out abortion in this
"I cannot see any justifica-
tion for destroying a poten-
tial life. One would have to
train a child to help him
overcome his (homosexual)
predisposition," he said.
In a letter to the Times of
London, Rabbi Jakobovits
had earlier compared
homosexual practices to
stealing, adultery and
murder, writing that if it
could be proved that these
were hereditary traits, this
would not make them any
more tolerable.
His letter angered non-
Orthodox rabbis as well as
the Jewish gay and lesbian
Rabbi Stephen Howard,
chairman of the Union of
Liberal and Progressive
Synagogues' Rabbinic Con-
ference, described Rabbi
Jakobovits' letter as "rather
"I find it reprehensible to
bracket homosexuality with
the examples he gave," he
Rabbi Howard added that
he would consider it a "very
serious matter" if somebody
were to endorse genetic en-
gineering as a way of wiping
out homosexuality.
Jack Gilbert, secretary of
the Jewish Gay and Lesbian
Helpline, was equally
critical. He said, "Such an
idea is morally reprehen-
sible. As Jews, we must
know that such tampering,
except in the most extreme

Rabbi Jakobovits:
Created controversy.

cases, is very dangerous."
However, Rabbi Nisson
Shulman, who holds the
medical ethics portfolio in
the chief rabbi's Cabinet,
said he agreed with Rabbi
Jakobovits' view that
"tendentious homosexual
feelings had to be over-
But he added that genetic
engineering "can only be
used for healing purposes,
and not for selective human
breeding. Homosexuality
would fall under the latter."
A spokesman for the cur-
rent chief rabbi of Britain,
Jonathan Sacks, said the
rabbi was "greatly con-
cerned" with these issues
and would be having a full
consultation with his
Cabinet in September. El

Holland Hears
Peace Talk

Amsterdam (JTA) — Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin arrived in Holland for
a two-day state visit in
which he was to discuss the
peace process and urge Eu-
ropean economic aid for Pa-
lestinians in the occupied
Mr. Rabin was slated to
meet with premier Rudolf
Lubbers and other top Dutch
Several pro-Palestinian
and extreme left-wing
groups have been quoted in
news reports as saying the
Netherlands should not in-
vest in the occupied areas
but, on the contrary, apply
economic sanctions against
Israel for human rights

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