Posted on June 28, 2022 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck and Cantor Risa Wallach
To our TBE family,
We felt it was important to reach out to you in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision which ended federal abortion rights after having them in place for the past 50 years.
The US Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade leaves many of us feeling grief, fear, shock, anger, and even a sense of trauma. Others may be feeling more positive emotions, and we acknowledge that as well.
From Cantor Wallach: As a person born with the ability to bear a child, this decision is viscerally painful to me. To know that my bodily autonomy is now more limited, and that it will be so for young people growing up today is a crushing blow. Even worse, that the majority of those unable to access abortion care will be the poor, transgender and non-binary, people of color, survivors of sexual violence and those facing dangerous pregnancies. Economic insecurity for these groups may increase as a result.
From Rabbi Gluck: As a cisgender male, who is a husband, a father of daughters, and a rabbi whose professional partners are all women, I am profoundly offended and outraged by the presumption of those who are stripping women of their agency over their own bodies. As an American citizen and a person of faith I am outraged by the governmental trespass on fundamental freedoms of religion and conscience. Jewish tradition teaches that life begins at birth, not at conception, and that the life of the mother takes precedence over the potential life of the fetus. On the basis of these beliefs Jewish law dictates that abortion is appropriate and even required in a variety of circumstances, including to safeguard the mental health of a pregnant woman.
The promise of America has always been the guarantee of religious freedom as a constitutional right that is unalienable. As a result of this court ruling, the Jewish community now finds itself facing a legal environment in which our religious values are fundamentally challenged. This we must resist with all our might, using every legal tool available in the framework of our democracy, chief among them the sacred right to vote.
Rabbi Marla Feldman, the Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), summarized the position of our Reform Movement in this statement: “Women of Reform Judaism along with others in the Reform Movement, has been an advocate for reproductive freedom throughout its history, mobilizing our communities to oppose efforts to restrict access to abortion and the full range of reproductive health services that we all deserve. Banning potentially life-saving medical procedures and interfering with a patient’s moral agency through abortion restrictions that are not medically warranted runs contrary to Jewish teachings and infringes upon religious freedom.
“In keeping with our history and Jewish tradition, we will continue to fight for a future where all people have dignity and access to the quality care they need, no matter who they are, where they live, their income, or their beliefs.”
We would like to conclude by sharing this prayer from the National Council of Jewish Women:
A Prayer for Reproductive Freedom
God of our ancestors–
We affirm that You have created each of us in Your sacred image, endowed with the inherent right to dignity and autonomy.
We ask that you guide us towards a caring and loving community and nation that reveres this dignity in each of us.
We affirm that reproductive freedom– the sacred right to own the personhood of one’s own body–is a fundamental part of the just society for which we strive in Your name.
We ask that you endow us with the strength and resolve we need because the path that lies ahead is challenging, and we all need resilience, strength, and courage.
We ask that You protect the most impacted and marginalized among us, because it is they who are most at risk.
We do this work in your name, O God, because we are the compassionate loving creations of a compassionate, loving and just God. It is holy, sacred work.
May our country become a place of liberty and justice for all, and may our care for one another include care and respect for each other’s right to good and affordable healthcare, including abortion care, and the right to live safely and securely as we each follow our path of conscience and the God we each do or do not believe in.
Rabbi Arnie Gluck
Cantor Risa Wallach