Review Article

Underpinnings of the Halachic Approach to BRCA Screening and Intervention: Facilitating Provider Counseling for Observant Jewish Populations

Chaya Greenberger and Pnina Mor


Background: Halacha is the corpus of Jewish law which serves as a life blueprint for observant Jewish individuals. Health professionals counseling halachically observant populations at risk for breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutations should be well informed of the halachic approach to screening for BRCA mutations and subsequent interventions.

Aim: To address the intersection of halacha with ethical norms and current medical evidence-based data as they relate to potential and identified BRCA mutation carriers at their various stages of decision-making.

Results: Halacha, ethics, and medicine have much in common, but there are specific principles which guide halacha; decision-making in light of halacha is complex and varies with respect to the multi-faceted aspects of screening and intervention. Halacha encourages the exercise of autonomy regarding situations in which beneficence is not clear-cut and dependent on subjective perceptions.

Conclusions: Health professionals knowledgeable of halacha are better equipped to counsel the observant Jewish population at risk of BRCA mutations or identified as mutation carriers, enabling them to present targeted questions to halachic authorities and thus achieve optimal decision-making.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2024;15(2):e0008