Like any novel societal phenomenon, the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) pandemic forced Jewish thinkers, rabbis, physicians, philosophers, and others to examine whether this scourge raises new issues or problems for Judaism. The present volume provides a fairly full picture of the responses AIDS has solicited within Judaism on the theological, ethical and halakhic planes. The volume consists of a comprehensive introduction by the editor, followed by almost all major texts bearing on AIDS and Judaism published between 1986 and 1995 in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel. Among the questions that are discussed in the volume are the following: Is AIDS a divine retribution? Does the obligation to help the sick apply also to persons with AIDS whom Judaism regards as sinners (because they are homosexual)? Are the preventive measures recommended by secular authorities (notably "safer sex" and the distribution of clean needles to drug users) to be approved by Judaism? What is the Jewish stance on coercive measures such as compulsory screening which impinge on individual personal rights? Is the traditional ritual of Brit Milah to be modified? The editor's introduction discusses the conflicting answers some of these questions have received within Judaism, even from thinkers belonging to the other branches of Judaism, and occasionally compare them with those offered within Christian denominations.
by Gad Freudenthal