Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Some Jewish thoughts on genetic enhancement
  1. Shimon M Glick
  1. Correspondence to Dr S M Glick, Jakobovits Center for Jewish Medical Ethics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel; gshimon{at}


The issues of the ethics of germ line modification in general and of enhancement by germ line modification in particular have been the subject of hundreds of articles in the bioethical literature. Both because the techniques are far from perfected and because the potential long term side effects are unkown, there is a widespread consensus that germ line modification for enhancement is absolutely unethical and beyond the pale at the present time.

The author considers a thought expperiment projecting into the future in which perhaps the safety and reversibility of germ line modification have been clearly demonstrated. Under such circumstances it is contended that the dividing line between treatment and enhancement is difficult and indeed perhaps impossible to maintain.

The Jewish tradition is examined and from the various sources cited it would seem that the benefits of certain kinds of genetic enhancements might well outweigh the objections to such manipulations.

  • Genetics
  • enhancement
  • religious ethics
  • gene therapy/transfer

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.