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Teen Pregnancy & Aids: Not a Jewish Problem?

I’m disturbed by Rabbi Stern’s claim that the incidence of teenage pregnancy and AIDS in the Jewish community is not a problem that needs to be taken seriously. Similar claims were once made about alcoholism and domestic violence, driving the problems underground, preventing education, and silencing the victims. It has already been more than a decade since the Tzvi Aryeh AIDS Foundation was founded in New York City to serve Orthodox Jews suffering from AIDS. The Tzvi Aryeh Foundation targets the very traditional Jewish community by presenting sexual education and choices in ways that have been sanctioned by Orthodox rabbis and that comport with normative Jewish law. But the organization works in almost total secrecy because of the severe stigma that an AIDS diagnosis brings in certain segments of the Orthodox world.


No, AIDS and teenage pregnancy are serious problems and I would applaud the Orthodox Union if it were actually promoting education, awareness, and prevention. But it’s not. Instead it’s using these issues–as well as the specter of cervical cancer, suicide, and date rape–as scare tactics to push a moralistic agenda. While encouraging teenagers to delay engaging in sexual activity may be a laudable goal for any number of reasons, providing bad information will never be the right way to go about promoting this objective. The OU should rethink it’s abstinence website, and perhaps abstain from disseminating misleading information to teens.

Read the Full Debate: Should We Teach Abstinence to Teens?

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posted June 1, 2007 at 7:01 pm

I still don’t see the Halchaic problem with a married teen being pregnant.

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posted June 2, 2007 at 12:19 am

Dave, The rabbis are not talking about MARRIED teens being pregnant, but rather the UNMARRIED ones. I actually am thankful that Rabbi Waxman mentioned the name of the Aryeh Tzvi AIDS Foundation. It was not that long ago that people believed things like :”jews are not alcoholics” or “Jewish husbands NEVER beat their wives”. I know of a few Orthodox jews who have AIDS, and are currently active in AIDS prevention and Education.

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Patti Harrison

posted June 3, 2007 at 8:52 am

I truly believe that if any religion, whether it be Orthodox Jewish or Latter Day Saint SHOULD teach it’s children to abstain from sex until marriage. That is what is taught in the Old Testament, which would be considered the Talmud. Truly if more and more teenagers would be taught abstinance in middle school and in high school, my goodness, the teen pregnancy and births would go way down; teen sexual diseases would go down. I myself, am a Virgin, will stay that way until marriage because my mother taught me that way, and because my religion has told me that way, it is the best way. I am 45 years old, and am very proud to stay a virgin and glad that I was taught abstainance.

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posted June 3, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Really? I didn’t read any of the rabbis making a distinction.

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Stephen Davidson

posted June 4, 2007 at 5:06 am

Pushing a moralistic agenda? That would be in keeping with Torah. Well done OU. It is time for the OU to become a voice for a moralistic agenda. You know, the one started at Sinai.

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posted June 5, 2007 at 9:26 pm

patti, you wrote: >I am 45 years old, and am very proud >to stay a virgin and glad that I was >taught abstainance 2 things:1) that makes you a SPINSTER!!! and 2) it also makes you inpractical. My mom would have prefered that my sister and I not had sex(I think she doesn’t want to think we’re having it now) but she was a realist who knew that it might happen and made sure that HER children knew what do to do to prevent us from being pregnant or getting someone else pregnant; and she also had the wherewithal to make sure that the lines of communication are open so that IF we did all we could and something DID happen, that we could say to her :”Mom we did our best, we tried but we had and Oops”. The problem with Abstinence Only sex ed is that it tends to cut off quality communication.

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