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Some ashkenazim carry genes that could lead their children to develop Tay-Sachs disease. For this reason many ashkenazim get genetic testing - I believe that this is dictated by halacha.

Do sephardim need to get tested as well? If a sefardi is thinking of marrying an ashkenazi is there a difference to the above question or do both partners need to be ashkenazi for this to be a problem?

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  • "I believe that this is dictated by halacha" - you'll need to give some strong support for this line. Given that the entire science of genetics is under 200 years old, you'll be hard pressed to find a classical source mandating testing. – Salmononius2 Apr 11 '16 at 18:49
  • @Salmononius2, I believe it's a simple matter of preventing a sakanah. – Ani Yodea Apr 11 '16 at 18:50
  • "Preventing a sakanah" is a very broad term. Who said one is obligated to do everything that prevents a sakanah? Additionally, claiming that something is a Halachic requirement could carry with it severe consequences. – Salmononius2 Apr 11 '16 at 18:56
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    To explain my vote to close; I voted to close as "about Jews," because without clarifying the halachic basis of the question, the way the question is written suggests (at least to me) to be about the science and best practice of genetic testing (ie is there a concern of TS by Sefaradim? How about just one Sefaradi parent?) – MTL Apr 11 '16 at 19:06
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks about the propensity of various diseases among different populations. This is not a question about Judaism – mevaqesh Aug 14 '16 at 17:22
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There are different diseases that run in Sephardic families, such as Thalassemia and Glycogen Storage Disease.

It stands to reason that if it's advisable for Ashkenazim to get tested against their common diseases, the same would apply for Sephardim respectively. This is also what I've heard from some Jewish educators and medical professionals, though I haven't asked for permission to name them.

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  • While there is ground for a pair of Sephardim to get genetically tested, this doesn't show that a Sephardi needs to get checked if marrying an Ashkenazi. – Aaron Apr 11 '16 at 23:08
  • Neither set of genepic diseases are 100% exclusive of the other and so testing is positive regardless of background. If one gets tested before dating someone you can call and see if your numbers are compatible if you have had the blood work done – Dude Apr 11 '16 at 23:21
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There are two issues here

  1. Are Jews permitted to test for genetic diseases before getting married? Are they required to?
  2. Does this apply differently for Ashkenazim and Sefardim?

The answer to the first issue is that it is permitted and even recommended by some for Ashkenazim because of the prevalence and terrible consequences of Tay-Sachs. See for instance

  • R Moshe Feinstein and R Tendler views here
  • R J. David Bleich here (as well as a mention of Dor Yeshorim who tests according to R Moshe's psak)
  • Nishmat here
  • a very complete article by Dr Fred Rosner, the Jewish medical ethicist,there

On the second, I had looked into this before getting married. Since I am Ashkenazi and my wife is Sefardi, Tay-Sachs doesn't apply and I decided not to test further as the frequency of other genetic diseases is much lower than other risks you accept when having kids (e.g, Dow).

Of course you should CYLOR for your specific situation and not rely on stranger's opinions even if they are well-intended and writing on respected sites.

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