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From Lineage to Sexual Mores: Examining “Jewish Eugenics“

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Noam J. Zohar
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

Abstract

To describe the attitude of the Jewish tradition toward eugenic ideology and policies, it is necessary to examine classical sources from a contemporary perspective. In the heyday of eugenics, Rabbi Max Reichler (1916) enthusiastically endorsed its ideology, supporting his position with numerous traditional texts. Similar views of traditional teachings on “chosen people” and on the importance of lineage have a certain contemporary following as well. The paper argues, however, that these views involve a one-sided reading of the Jewish tradition and, particularly, the suppression of traditional critiques of lineage and of the notion of a “Jewish race.”

Type
Historical Perspectives
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1998

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References

Cohen, Shaye. 1990. “The Rabbinic Conversion Ceremony.” Journal of Jewish Studies 41:177203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Lorberbaum, Menachem. 1993. “Maimonides' Letter to Ovadyah: An Analysis.” S'vara 3 (1):5766.Google Scholar
Reichier, Max. 1916. “Jewish Eugenics.” In Jewish Eugenics and Other Essays, 719. New York: Bloch.Google Scholar
Silman, Yohanan. 1995. Philosopher and Prophet. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
Walzer, Michael. ed., with others. Forthcoming. The Jewish Political Tradition. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Weinfeld, M. 1964. “The Universalistic Trend and the Isolationist Trend in the Period of the Return to Zion” (in Hebrew). Tarbitz 33: 228242.Google Scholar
Zohar, Noam. 1997. Alternatives in Jewish Bioethics. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
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