Vouchers will Subsidize Screening Kits, Organizations will Engage Interfaith and Less Affiliated
Atlanta, GA — Honeymoon Israel and JScreen announced a national partnership to give young couples access to genetic screening that helps them plan ahead for healthy families. Honeymoon Israel provides group trips to Israel for couples with at least one Jewish partner and currently runs trips from 16 cities across North America. JScreen is a national non-profit community-based public health initiative dedicated to education and carrier screening for Jewish and other genetic diseases. The partnership includes a voucher to help subsidize the cost of screening, along with other resources and information for couples.
“We are very excited to partner with Honeymoon Israel and support young couples who are at the stage in life when they are thinking about having children and creating families,” says Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, Executive Director of JScreen. “In particular, this partnership will help us offer screening to more interfaith couples and couples who have been less affiliated with Jewish life. Many couples may not realize they are at risk for carrying certain disease genes, regardless of their religious or faith backgrounds. We have a responsibility to make sure that as many people as possible are well-informed about their risks and the importance of testing.”
Participants on Honeymoon Israel trips will receive a coupon code to help subsidize the cost of screening, to use before or after they return home from their Israel experience. Honeymoon Israel and JScreen will also work together to provide information to young couples who do not qualify for a trip.
“We engage hundreds of young couples every year and offer them an onramp to connect to Jewish life and create Jewish community at home,” says Mike Wise, CEO of Honeymoon Israel. “While approximately 14% of couples participate on Honeymoon Israel after having their first child, the majority of couples are choosing to participate around the beginning stages of family planning. A partnership with JScreen allows us to support couples in another very concrete way by giving them the knowledge they need before choosing to become parents.”
JScreen offers testing for genetic diseases on DNA from saliva (“spit”) samples that can be collected at home and then sent to the testing lab.The program has an expanded screening panel that tests for more than 200 diseases, a significant development from a generation ago. Currently, 80 percent of babies with genetic diseases are born to parents with no known family history of that disease, making screening important for everyone.
“Our work supporting couples begins when they apply for Honeymoon Israel,” says Rebecca Bar, Honeymoon Israel’s VP of Community Partnerships. “All of our local staff in cities across the U.S. are well positioned to encourage screening for Jewish and other genetic diseases as a natural part of their lives. Honeymoon Israel is not only about the trip, it’s about the much broader journey couples have when they return home.”
JScreen notes that this genetic test is relevant for all couples including those with two Jewish partners, interfaith couples, and same-sex couples. If tests come back with positive results, and a person or couple’s risk is elevated, JScreen provides results via phone or secure video-conference by certified genetic counselors. These experts privately address the results, resources, and options moving forward.
Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Human Genetics, the JScreen initiative is a collaboration among clinical geneticists, socially minded businesses and nonprofits to provide everyday people with a ready access point to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education and genetic counseling services. JScreen believes the combination of education, access to premier gene screening technologies and personalized, confidential support are the keys to preventing these devastating diseases. More information: www.jscreen.org
Honeymoon Israel provides immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship. The goal is to create communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people. Honeymoon Israel currently operates trips from 16 cities across North America, with plans to expand to more communities over the coming few years. More information: www.honeymoonisrael.org