Stem Cells, Gene Therapy and Cloning

Resolution Adopted by the




Adopted by the

Board of Trustees
Central Conference of American Rabbi

March 30, 2003

NOTE: The Resolutions Committee notes

that the CCAR Committee on Responsa has issued a responsum on the

subject of Stem Cell Research, number 5761.7. This

responsum is available on the CCAR web site.


In April 2002, the Religious Action Center hosted an

informative conference for members of the Commission on Social Action

and the UAHC Department of Family Concerns, in an attempt to start to

address our policy-void in the areas of stem cell research, gene

therapy, and cloning.

Consistent with the values of Reform Judaism, and

recommendations of that working group, the Commission on Social Action

voiced its support in the following areas:

Supports research using both adult and embryonic

stem cells, not limited to the existing lines currently approved for

funding by the Administration;

Supports research and funding of somatic gene therapy. Each

individual can assess the risks and benefits for him or herself and

make an informed decision. Support for somatic gene therapy should

not be confused with or construed as support for germ line gene

therapy, which poses serious medical and moral concerns;

Supports therapeutic cloning; and

Opposes reproductive cloning.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of

American Rabbis endorses the above positions, and


with the Department of Jewish Family Concerns of the UAHC to develop

further policies and guidelines in this area for the Reform Jewish

Movement, consistent with Reform Jewish values.


Gene therapy can be targeted

to somatic (body) or germ (egg and sperm) cells. In somatic gene

therapy the recipient’s genome is changed, but the change is not

passed along to the next generation. In germ line gene therapy, the

parent’s egg or sperm cells are changed with the goal of passing on

the changes to their offspring. Germ line gene therapy is not being

actively investigated, at least in larger animals and humans, although

a lot of discussion is being conducted about its value and

desirability. An excellent web site on the Human Genome Project is

sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office

of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program, at