8 thoughts on “Class 4 Blog Post

  1. Your blog post gives a really good summary of the readings we’ve done, and I appreciate how it connects the reading from this week to those in previous weeks (Seeman’s and Inhorn’s articles). It’s so incredibly interesting to look at how different cultures view the same technologies–how religion and culture influence the way populations live in the modern world with new technologies emerging every day. With reproductive technology, it is sometimes very easy to just point at specific text and call it evidence supporting your opinion. In these readings, it was very clear that the conclusions made were based on more than just an ancient text; all authors spoke to real people experiencing these very real issues and finding ways to continue.

    I think every population tends to desire growth. Though, as you mentioned for the Jewish people, there is a slightly different view on repopulation and reproduction. There are many reasons why one group of people may emphasize the right to reproduce and make babies within their community, but what is most striking to me is its cultural and religious significance. As mentioned in the readings and by Dr. Seeman last class, many religious Jews interpret the text as saying that reproduction is a commandment, rather than a right. Consequently, compared to the other Abrahamic religions we have discussed, Judaism, therefore, allows greater leeway for reproductive technologies. The observations mentioned in the book further confirm the actual implementation of these beliefs in a more political way.

  2. Hi Nick, thank you for your incredibly insightful and thorough blog post, I really enjoyed reading it. I appreciate that you put the Inhorn and Seeman readings in conversation with Kahn’s book–we get a really great big-picture look at what the use of reproductive technologies actually looks like out in the world from these three readings. I think it can be easy to read about interpretations of religious text and what the “rules” about reproductive technology are in certain religions, but what these readings provide to us is that the world of reproductive technology in religious communities can look incredibly different in practice versus in concept.

    A question you brought up that I think can be a major theme of discussion, as well as it was something I was thinking about as I have been reflecting on the reading is the idea of the biblical vs. practical reasoning for why Jews are more supportive of reproductive technology usage. I think as most things go, the answer tends to be that the reasoning comes down to a little bit of both, but I think there is so much room to delve into that and understand exactly how those biblical interpretations and practical purposes are interacting with each other. You also posited an interesting sort of “what came first?” question that I find really interesting as well. Did a differing interpretation of biblical text get the gears moving on a leniency toward reproductive technology, and then the benefits of growing the Jewish population were realized? Or did those interpretations begin to shift after the benefits of reproductive technology for the Jewish population were established? There is so much to dive into with that! Overall, I found your blog post allowed me to have a deeper reflection on this weeks readings, as well previous weeks, and I think you posed a lot of really interesting things for us to continue discussing.

  3. This summary is superb. Your focus on the focus of how Jewish support for new reproductive technologies not being uniform is a great focus. Not only do not all Jewish people support new reproductive technologies, but the ones that do support them have different reasons for doing so. And it is interesting that you brought in the Inhorn article because so too do Muslims not have a uniform opinion on new reproductive technologies. One thing that I do wonder though from your summary is how you distinguish Kahn from Seeman for Kahn focusing on pronatalism while Seeman focuses on different interpretations of the Torah, but I do feel that Kahn also looks at different interpretations among Rabbis of the Torah as well to some extent.

    I would like to know further how the interpretations of Rabbis of the Torah that support new reproductive technologies can be intertwined with the national pronatalism of Israel and Jews, although I would suspect them to be quite so. The state is secular however, but to what extent does its Jewish identity influence its laws? I would also like to know more about this “one of us” idea that ties into the idea of “reproducing Jews”.

  4. Hey Nick, thanks for sharing. I applaud how you’ve analyzed all of the works we’ve read so far in conjunction with one another! I think considering these different perspectives together creates a more holistic and nuanced understanding of the Jewish belief system, something we should continue to work on throughout the rest of the semester. I also found Khan’s discussion of community goals particularly interesting – she presents multiple accounts in which family members and other close friends accept new children as their own, regardless of how they came to be; I learned that mothers are viewed more as the vessels of Jewish babies, and that even in instances of rape or illegitimate conceptions, children are welcomed into the community without hesitation. One thing I would like to research/discuss further is the general lack of support for family planning services: is it solely the command to “be fruitful and multiply” that discourages contraceptives, etc? And, is such discouragement more religiously or culturally based?

  5. Nicholas,
    I liked your summary of “Reproducing Jews” and its comparison to Dr. Seeman’s “Ethnography, Exegesis, and Jewish Ethical Reflection”. I found a particularly interesting when your knowledge Kahn suggests support for reproductive technology stems from a practical support while Dr. Seeman provides examples from a theological viewpoint. I also liked your overall reflected on other readings we have done in the class and tied them into this weeks reading. I agree that acceptance of reproductive technology in Jewish culture as opposed to Christianity is due to a different interpretation of the Bible. However, seeing that Christianity uses Genesis as a basis for reproductive law, I think Genesis could also be interpreted in support of these technologies. It makes me question if it’s a difference of interpretations or difference of attitudes/opinions. While there is a desire to expand the Jewish population driving support for reproductive technology, why doesn’t this expand into Christianity? I overall really enjoyed reading your summary, and I felt like it was very encapsulating of Kahn’s work as well as other readings we have done for the class.

  6. Hi Nick, you did an excellent job weaving Susan Kahn and Professor Seeman’s arguments together. Synthesizing multiple readings can be difficult, and you did a great job pulling important information and interesting ideas from both readings.

    You bring up an interesting point from Kahn’s research that Israel has the highest per capita rate of fertility clinics in the world. I am curious if the rate continues to grow. I also wonder if the high rate is connected to Israel’s healthcare system more broadly.

    You also bring up the point that Jewish law “tends to focus on explicit prohibitions or allowances written” in comparison to Christianity. I would love for you to expand on this. How specifically do we see this in Judaism v. Christianity? This is something I personally am excited to learn more about as we continue this course.

  7. Hi Nick! Thank you for your contributions and insight on this week’s reading as well as comparison from Professor Seeman’s work. I appreciate how you outlined the various justifications for why members of the Jewish population use reproductive technology yet also underscore the common themes of each of the texts analyzed. I agree that Professor Seeman decided to take a more theological approach using historical case study examples while Susan Kahn used an ethnographic approach that explains the different desires and limitations of reproductive technology. Additionally, I appreciate how you expressed your interest regarding certain topics, such as comparison of the debates of this topic in the Middle East, and followed up the discussion with your continued curiosity of these comparisons.

    It is apparent that reproductive technology has an immense influence in the ways Jewish populations organize themselves, specifically in Israel. I am curious to hear how other countries interpret this hyperfocus on these pronatal elements of Israeli policy. As I know you are a Political Science scholar, I wonder if you, too, share these interests and/or have looked into international discussion about these policies in Israel.

  8. Hi Nick, sorry for the late reply, but excellent job summarizing the week’s articles and coming up with your own theories on why two separate religions interpret the same text differently. In terms of the state of Israel, which is indeed Jewish but has its own separate reasons for its legislature, I think their policies also come from the relative lack of Jews populating the world today. Compared to Christianity, with around 2.4 billion practitioners, and Islam, with around 1.8 billion practitioners, the 15 million people who practice Judaism pale in comparison. With more strict laws on who is and isn’t Jewish, the state of Israel definitely has a reason to be a relatively pro-natal state, with most of its population being Jewish and therefore able to pass on the Jewish status from the mother to the children. This, combined with the fact that Jewish law is often decided by Rabbinic scholars instead of solely text interpretations, has lead to a great increase in the pro-natalism found in Jewish populations today. Other religions would rather subscribe to the notions outlined in their religious texts than allow for assisted reproductive technologies because they do not have as strong of a population problem, and their relative lack of interpretation of texts does not allow them as much room.

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